Abstract

Difficult-to-find petroleum resources and expensive drilling drive the need for improved exploration methods. Although improvement can be made by technically advancing individual methods, greater improvement comes from integrating existing independent exploration methods to dramatically improve drilling success. Exploration integration is often discussed, but it is less often carried out. A reason exploration integration has been limited may be due to the lack of clearly defined integration methods. In this study, we looked at the integration of independent exploration methods; we studied its fundamental principles, how it works, and why it is effective. Derived from basic probability theory, a simple map overlay of independent exploration data can be an effective integration method. Probability calculations determine the probability of a successful well from known probabilities of integrated independent techniques. A successful integration of data from Cheeseburger Field, Eastern Shelf of the Midland Basin, Stonewall County, Texas, illustrates how integration of 3D seismic, subsurface geologic, and surface geochemical data improve drilling results beyond those achieved from any single method used alone. In Cheeseburger Field, 3D seismic and subsurface geology resulted in 4/7=57% successful wells. After integrating geochemical exploration data, results improved to 4/5=80%. Modern petroleum exploration is a multitool, integrated information science. Probability theory provides a means for predicting outcome of integrating independent exploration methods. Enhanced exploration success can be achieved by combining independent and complementary exploration methods in this integration process.

You do not currently have access to this article.