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Real-time 3D visualization can enable enhanced well planning, reservoir navigation and drilling optimization.
The industry has been challenged to visualize disparate datasets together as they are acquired in real time and in the context of relevant earth models. The goal is to process an enormous volume of information so collaborators can make accurate and timely decisions on something that will never actually be seen. A real-time 3D visualization service can help achieve these goals.
People have long relied on printed maps rather than a textual list of instructions for directions to find their way around.
Maps provide a visual way of analyzing and processing spatial data because these clearly show orientation and scaling that describe the relationships with other objects and their relative positions. People understand things visually more easily, especially when the information describes things in space.
In addition to providing a spatial reference, visualization of information on a map allows many types of data to be shown together in context, which clarifies the big picture. Viewing different datasets together in context provides more information that enables better decisions in less time.
In the oil and gas industry, everything related to drilling a well also has a spatial relationship. The location and distance among offset well paths, structure and position of relevant formations, and the site of the target reservoir all can be described and visualized in 3D space.
With advances in LWD tools, azimuthal measurements and image logs can provide additional intelligence related to the spatial orientation and scaling of other features, all in real time. Many of these downhole technologies produce highly accurate measurements -- and more data than ever.
The use of data visualization for decision-making, particularly in real time, has become critical in today’s challenging drilling environments.
Many drilling applications can benefit from real-time 3D visualization, including: well planning and directional drilling using 3D clearance calculations to drilling optimization; reservoir navigation; and real-time formation evaluation using 3D wellbore placement inside a geologic model.
Baker Hughes recently introduced its WellLink 3D visualization service to optimize wellbore placement by providing real-time 3D visualization of wellbore-related data.
The integrated decision support and visualization platform enables operators to make accurate and timely decisions within a true collaborative environment by aggregating data into a single visualization environment.
“Our customers can now see a real-time synopsis of their drilling environment, including earth models and tool diameters,” Scott Schmidt, Baker Hughes president of drilling and evaluation, explained. “Well data is now viewable within its geologic context, allowing operators to make real-time updates to drilling parameters and well trajectory, effectively optimizing wellbore placement and maximizing reservoir contact.”
This visualization service improves the understanding of real-time measurements by displaying them in geologic context, which can minimize risk through better understanding of the formation and its relationship with the wellbore.
The 3D visualization service provides better understanding of available space between offset well paths and the planned or actual well path for optimal anticollision planning.
According to Pete Clark, directional drilling subject matter expert at Chevron Energy Technology Co., the ability of a visualization service like WellLink 3D to integrate the wellbore positional data with logs, offsets, and geologic models in real time allows drillers to see possible opportunities, hazards, and wellbore collisions so the trajectory and drilling parameters can be corrected for performance and safety.
“Viewing all types of well information together facilitates a common and better understanding of a situation,” Clark said, “while collaborating across various perspectives and disciplines enables good decision-making in a matter of minutes rather than hours, days or weeks.”
One of the most critical missions in drilling is ensuring wellbore collisions do not occur. Traditionally, collision avoidance has been performed using a series of 2D manual tools, which often are cumbersome to operate. Outputs from these tools sometimes are difficult to understand and analyze and easy to misinterpret.
The ability to incorporate information typically displayed in 2D reports in a 3D environment is a significant improvement. Displaying traveling cylinder plots with no-go areas from a static report in 3D, for example, can simplify understanding and provide the next step toward a more automated solution.
Tubes displayed along offset well paths represent the minimum allowable separation distance, providing a visual interpretation of how far the planned or currently drilled reference well path must be from the offset path in question.
By visualizing anticollision rule (ACR) calculation results in context with the reference and offset well paths in a 3D environment, analysis becomes much simpler. For example, failure cases of the ACR can be color-coded automatically in red to alert personnel immediately to potential problems.
Finally, 3D symbols showing the amount of available space for drilling provide a contextual representation for the planner or drilling engineer to quickly determine where to steer the well to avoid a collision.
The goal of reservoir navigation is to accurately place and keep the wellbore in the pay zone by avoiding premature or unplanned exits leading to nonproductive time (NPT).
The availability in recent years of advanced LWD measurements has made the task of placing the well in the right zone easier. However, with more challenging wells being drilled, more complex criteria have to be met while drilling.
Collaboration is facilitated by 3D visualization, enabling the team to place the wellbore optimally.
For example, a deep azimuthal resistivity reading from a downhole tool provides orientation data with respect to high side, resistivity values and signal quality. This information can be processed seamlessly and rendered as a single datapoint in which color, size, and distance from the tool sensor represent the summation of all related information.
All downhole data are viewed within geologic context, which provides greater understanding of the wellbore placement and plan-ahead decision that may be required.
Real-time interpretation enables the development of local earth models that can be updated while drilling. The visualization of local wellbore information along with data collected from the full-field study enhances the decision-making process.
The visualization of the bottomhole assembly (BHA) within its geologic context can provide insight that often is difficult to detect through direct measurements alone.
Drilling dysfunctions that are not addressed can lead to tool failures and unnecessary trips, all adding up to potentially avoidable NPT.
Dynamic parameters like bending moment and the relative orientation of the BHA with respect to the wellbore also can facilitate predicting the BHA’s direction before actually taking the next survey point.
Turning wellbore-related data into real-time imagery for enhanced well planning, reservoir navigation, and drilling optimization is now part of Baker Hughes’ digital oil field offering through the WellLink 3D visualization service, which provides a single integrated 3D visualization and decision support solution that leverages the industry standard protocol, WITSML.
The ability to connect directly to other WITSML data sources allows operators to visualize both offline and real-time datasets through a vendor-neutral, shared display.
Editor’s Note: This article was presented in the show daily at SPE Intelligent Energy International 2012, May 27-29.