Chapter 11: Deterministic Mapping of Reservoir Heterogeneity in Athabasca Oil Sands Using Surface Seismic Data
Yong Xu, Satinder Chopra, 2010. "Deterministic Mapping of Reservoir Heterogeneity in Athabasca Oil Sands Using Surface Seismic Data", Heavy Oils: Reservoir Characterization and Production Monitoring, Satinder Chopra, Laurence R. Lines, Douglas R. Schmitt, Michael L. Batzle
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Bitumen reserves in oil sands in Alberta, Canada represent one of the biggest such deposits in the world. The Athabasca region contains the bulk of this resource, and the Lower Cretaceous McMurray formation contains the most significant target interval. Inclined heterolithic strata and associated sand accumulations comprise most of the formation. However, the distribution of bitumen in the formation varies because of the high degree of facies heterogeneity throughout the deposit. This lithological heterogeneity causes difficulties in interpreting geology and estimating the bitumen distribution.
Surface seismic data could play an important role in characterizing the subsurface heterogeneity because they provide lateral and vertical coverage and a link to rock physics through amplitude variation with offset (AVO). However, most (with notable recent exceptions using deterministic lambda-mu-rho, shown by Bellman, 2007 and Evans and Hua, 2008) applications of surface seismic in Athabasca have been to provide attributes for statistical and neural network predictions (Tonn, 2002; Anderson et al., 2005). The relationships between seismic data and lithology are determined at the well control points by multivariate analysis or neural networks and then the lithology between wells is predicted from these relationships. However, interpreters often find these relationships less straightforward than conventional techniques.
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Heavy oil is an important global resource with reserves comparable to those of conventional oil. As conventional resources get thinner, attention is being focused on heavy oil and bitumen, which hold the promise of becoming useful fuels. Already more than 1 million barrels of oil are being produced from the oil sands in Canada; heavy oil represents half of California’s crude oil production in the United States and is a major production in Mexico. With demand for global energy soaring, heavy oil will undoubtedly be an important resource to be exploited in a big way in the near future.
The SEG Development and Production Committee held its Heavy Oil Forum in Edmonton, Alberta, in July 2007. This was a joint research forum cosponsored by the Canadian Society of Exploration Geophysicists (CSEG) and SEG and hosted by the University of Alberta. Preceding the forum, a field trip took the participants to the vast Athabasca Oil Sands region where they observed the outcrops, open pit mining, and steam injection operations, followed by a tour of the steam-assisted gravity drainage projects. Topics of the well-attended forum included the definition of heavy oil; where is heavy oil found; how it is produced; heavy-oil reservoir characterization; fluid and rock properties; electrical, tilt, and gravity techniques; borehole, surface seismic measurements; and microseismicity.