Direct Reservoir Imaging Technology.
The seismic methods being used today for imaging reservoirs rely on the propagation of seismic waves through earth and mapping the reflected signals from the interfaces of the subsurface rocks. The current science of seismic imaging is based on the assumption that the earth behaves as an elastically linear medium. This assumption over-simplifies the behavior of the fluid-saturated reservoir rock and avoids the complexity of dealing with the dynamic physical properties of the oil and gas fluids stored in the porous reservoir rocks.
What is needed is the development of a new methodology that will provide a new seismic approach that will allow us to map the reservoir porosity profile, permeable flow units, location and orientation of fractures, and the distribution of different viscosity pore fluids.
Criteria for the future technology should be such that it has to directly indicate the subsurface accumulations of the hydrocarbons. This new technology needs to be sophisticated enough to satisfy the requirements of the large companies with budgets of tens of billions of dollars for mapping the interwell geologic profile of the reservoir rocks and their flow characteristics (including porosity, permeability, pockets of oil left behind) to achieve more efficient secondary and tertiary recovery, and at the same time be simple enough that it can be effectively used by a small-size independent explorationist, whose budget may be limited to finding small pockets of oil reserves in his or her local area of operation. Ideally, it is not going to be capital-intensive and the current hardware/software can be used, so that the rewards will be directly related to the exploration efforts of the oil companies.
Using current extraction capabilities, hydrocarbon reserves can be economically produced if a seismic imaging technology is introduced to provide unique and unambiguous results for identifying and locating the hydrocarbons in the reservoirs. The introduction of a new technology, which can make direct measurements of the reservoir pore fluids and the relevant reservoir characteristics, will open a new world of possibilities for oil and gas exploration and production.
For oil and gas, Nonlinear Seismic Imaging is considered a breakthrough technology that will solve many of the complex challenges we will face in the next few decades as the easy oil has been extracted.Using Nonlinear Seismic Imaging, we do not lose anything that the existing imaging provides. Nonlinear Seismic is additional information which gives us a better understanding of the reservoir rocks and their pore fluids that are of the primary interest in exploration for oil and gas.
"We owe it to the industry to take a second look at the fundamentals of seismic imaging to advance solutions for more rigorous challenges that lie ahead. We should boldly go to the oilfields and try out each new idea without hesitation, like the pioneers of previous generations did to come up with answers they wanted to obtain. There was little hesitation or doubt involved, rather there was almost immediate support and interest in every idea."
-Sofia Khan, President and CEO of Nonlinear Seismic Imaging, Inc.
The future of this technology is in areas where the subsurface oil accumulations have not been mapped using conventional technology. We envision using Nonlinear Seismic Imaging to map stratigraphic traps, fractured reservoirs, oil-bearing formations, and other oil accumulations that are invisible using current seismic methods.
This technology could be the foundation of a new type of exploration effort that can be used in the old fields where 70% of the oil is left behind and move into prospective basins where the source rocks have been identified yet the hydrocarbon accumulations cannot be mapped due to the shortcomings in the current imaging technology.
All the declining fields where 60-70% of the movable oil has been left behind need to be re-mapped using Nonlinear Seismic Imaging so that we can better understand the flow characteristics of the reservoir rocks and identify the pockets of oil that have been left behind.
Irrespective of oil market conditions today, the demand for oil will keep going up for at least the next two decades. There are a lot of resources still to be discovered and produced around the globe and here in North America. Let us work together and develop the necessary technology to find that oil and produce it.