A Virtual Petrophysicist Can Operate from Any Venue
Until recently, if an operator wanted a rapid petrophysical analysis for a drilling well, the petrophysicist would have to catch the logs, at the wellsite, or be present in the client’s offices, when the well logs arrived.
This Need No Longer Be The Case.
I recently served as petrophysical consultant for a highly successful two-year exploration and appraisal drilling program in SE Asia. My client, the operator, drilled 22 wells over the course of two four-month drilling campaigns. This drilling activity resulted in two gas discoveries, an oil discovery, twelve successful appraisal wells, six dry holes, and one lost well bore (with oil sands). The oil discovery has been described by one industry observer as the region’s most significant discovery of the year.
I was in-country for only two one-month tours, the first year, and not at all, the second. The rest of the time, I received daily report, mud log, wireline, and MWD/LWD graphics and data via e-mail attachments and communicated with the drill rig, the client’s in-country local office, and home office via telephone and e-mail. In this fashion, I participated actively in completion and test interval decisions.
I was able keep abreast of developments and conduct petrophysical analysis even while on travel throughout North America, because I carried my petrophysical analysis and display software with me in my laptop computer. As long as I was near a telephone, I could keep up.
Even though I was not in-country, I was able to correctly identify an intermittent wireline tool failure and convince the wireline vendor that there was, indeed, a problem. I was also able to identify LWD protocol problems, which resulted in lower quality LWD data, and convince the LWD vendor to modify their protocols to address these problems. Finally, I was able to identify well bore environmental problems which resulted in lower quality for some measurements and offer interpretation and/or operational solutions to overcome these problems.
My resulting Stock-Tank Original Oil In Place (STOOIP) estimates withstood a subsequent audit by an internationally accepted reserves audit house.
What is gained:
From the client’s viewpoint, the biggest gain, from this arrangement is in cost. There were no travel costs, travel or stand-by time charges, nor expenses while in country, if I functioned as a Virtual Petrophysicist. The client was only charged for time spent working on their project.
What is lost:
This is more subtle and difficult to quantify. Even though I was able to identify problems from a distance and eventually effect satisfaction from the wireline and/or LWD vendors, I suspect that this might have happened quicker, had I been in-country and able to deal with the vendors face-to-face. I also may not have participated as fully in completion and test interval decisions as I might have, had I been in-country.
Only the client can determine if the cost savings involved with using a virtual petrophysicist are worth the risks of not having the petrophysicist on location or in the client’s office. In the case of my recent experience, the client obviously felt comfortable with virtual petrophysicist. In other situations, they may not.