We present a methodology for estimating uncertainties and mapping probabilities of occurrence of different lithofacies and pore fluids from seismic amplitudes, and apply it to a North Sea turbidite system. The methodology combines well log facies analysis, statistical rock physics, and prestack seismic inversion. The probability maps can be used as input data in exploration risk assessment and as constraints in reservoir modeling and performance forecasting.

First, we define seismic-scale sedimentary units which we refer to as seismic lithofacies. These facies represent populations of data (clusters) that have characteristic geologic and seismic properties. In the North Sea field presented in this paper, we find that unconsolidated thick-bedded clean sands with water, plane laminated thick-bedded sands with oil, and pure shales have very similar acoustic impedance distributions. However, the Vp/Vs ratio helps resolve these ambiguities.

We establish a statistically representative training database by identifying seismic lithofacies from thin sections, cores, and well log data for a type well. This procedure is guided by diagnostic rock physics modeling. Based on the training data, we perform multivariate classification of data from other wells in the area. From the classification results, we can create cumulative distribution functions of seismic properties for each facies. Pore fluid variations are accounted for by applying the Biot-Gassmann theory.

Next, we conduct amplitude-variation-with-offset (AVO) analysis to predict seismic lithofacies from seismic data. We assess uncertainties in AVO responses related to the inherent natural variability of each seismic lithofacies using a Monte Carlo technique. Based on the Monte Carlo simulation, we generate bivariate probability density functions (pdfs) of zero-offset reflectivity [R(0)] versus AVO gradient (G) for different facies combinations. By combining R(0) and G values estimated from 2-D and 3-D seismic data with the bivariate pdfs estimated from well logs, we use both discriminant analysis and Bayesian classification to predict lithofacies and pore fluids from seismic amplitudes. The final results are spatial maps of the most likely facies and pore fluids, and their occurrence probabilities. These maps show that the studied turbidite system is a point-sourced submarine fan in which thick-bedded clean sands are present in the feeder-channel and in the lobe channels, interbedded sands and shales in marginal areas of the system, and shales outside the margins of the turbidite fan. Oil is most likely present in the central lobe channel and in parts of the feeder channel.

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