The Connection:  Use Your ISIP to Score Big
Data Science & Analytics

The Connection: Use Your ISIP to Score Big

Rosemary Jackson  •  

The French Connection: The 1971 benchmark movie that ushered in the gritty, uncensored violence of the police crime genre.

The French Connection: The French-Canadian forward line of the Buffalo Sabres National Hockey League from 1972-1979.

The Connection: The winning team of AI, data, and geoscience that scores big every time.

This isn’t a reference to the 1971 gritty crime drama. No, it’s a shout out to the technical teamwork of the Buffalo Sabres French Connection forward line. Known for their ingenuity on the ice, their high scoring, and quick passing, drilling opponents with puck moves that had never been seen before, has that full line up ready to challenge any industry competition with the highest accuracy and fastest speed in the business. And our technical advisor that keeps the Platform at the cutting-edge of shale? Dr. Mark Zoback, professor of Geoscience at Stanford University.

“Zoback has had his finger on the anisotropic pulse of rock since his doctoral research days,” Dr. Troy Ruths explains, “His pioneering work in measuring and applying stress states has allowed an industry to drill deep, intricate wells that porpoise through different formations of varying reverse, strike slip, normal or a combination of stress regimes. ”This seminal work is now in, informing the software’s AI connection, passing your data fast so you score big with your drilling moves.

“Unconventional wells are known to deplete very rapidly over the first 2 to 3 years of production,” Zoback shared at a meeting. “Overall, the average production of unconventional wells has increased about 50% from 2009 to 2016. On a per well basis, cumulative oil production has shown a steady increase. But on a per foot basis, there has been a decline in production through time. We’re leaving a lot of oil in the ground and there are many uneconomic wells.

We have to think about hydraulic fracturing in a 3D context, what’s happening vertically as well as what’s happening laterally.

“The stratigraphy is highly variable in every play in shale. As the clay content increases so does the layering and this layering affects everything. They’re intrinsically anisotropic. We call this VTI for vertical transverse isotropy which means the vertical direction is different than the horizontal direction. Everything is similar horizontally but different vertically.

“Now the propagation of a frac is perpendicular to the least principal stress. The work that has to be done during hydraulic fracturing is represented by the force times distance. The force being the stress you’re operating against and the distance being the opening of the hydraulic facture and that’s always the stress state that’s controlling the orientation of the hydraulic fractures.

“The way we determine the minimum stress is classically with extended leak off tests or mini-fracs. Then we use the shut-in pressure after we make the hydraulic fracture. We do that because we have a clean fluid and we’re pumping at a low rate so there’s very little friction involved. When you shut off the pump, you get an instantaneous shut-in pressure that’s very clean and easy to use. ISIP corresponds to least principal stress. A source of information that’s often overlooked.

“Applying Zoback’s research to the platform means working ISIP and stress states into the equations that determine your well spacing,” Ruths continues.

“Your well is porpoising in and out of the laminar lithology. That well is going up and down 80 feet, that’s what 10 stories?Each story has a different stress. When we measure ISIPs that’s what we’re pulling out.

You’re going from floor to floor and each of those different floors has a little different ISIP. If we measure this enough, we can develop what that profile looks like.

Our machine not only picks an ISIP, but it also picks an ISIP range and that lets you understand where the machine is confident and where it’s not confident. That’s important if you want to QC them fast, have an idea of uncertainty and quantify it. We’ve removed the tedium, so you can go through them and clean up the point clouds very quickly.

“When we work with operators, ISIPs are still a throw away data type that they’re sitting on that has enormous value. They’re getting tons of diagnostic information and then using that they can build a vertical stress profile. Why is a vertical stress profile so important? Fracs don’t care about oil saturation. Fracs don’t care about pore pressure. Fracs don’t care about all the things you care about in a producing reservoir. Fracs only care about the state of stress. That’s what we’re characterizing in and that’s what the industry needs to characterize right now.

“Unconventional plays have enormous potential,” Zoback reminds us. “Even after a couple hundred thousand wells in North America we’ve still got a long way to go. Getting things right. Doing a better job is a challenge we all face.”

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