The characterization of shale plays involves an understanding of tectonic history, geologic settings, reservoir properties, and the in-situ stresses of the potential producing zones in the subsurface. The associated hydrocarbons are generally recovered by horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Historically, seismic data have been used mainly for structural interpretation of the shale reservoirs. A primary benefit of surface seismic has been the ability to locate and avoid drilling into shallow carbonate karsting zones, salt structures, and basement-related major faults which adversely affect the ability to drill and complete the well effectively. More recent advances in prestack seismic data analysis yield attributes that appear to be correlated to formation lithology, rock strength, and stress fields. From these, we may infer preferential drilling locations or sweet spots. Knowledge and proper utilization of these attributes may prove valuable in the optimization of drilling and completion activities. In recent years, geophysical data have played an increasing role in supporting well planning, hydraulic fracturing, well stacking, and spacing. We have implemented an integrated workflow combining prestack seismic inversion and multiattribute analysis, microseismic data, well-log data, and geologic modeling to demonstrate key applications of quantitative seismic analysis utilized in developing ConocoPhillips' acreage in the Delaware Basin located in Texas. These applications range from reservoir characterization to well planning/execution, stacking/spacing optimization, and saltwater disposal. We show that multidisciplinary technology integration is the key for success in unconventional play exploration and development.

You do not currently have access to this article.