Abstract

The story of seismic imaging over BHP's Shenzi Gulf of Mexico production field follows the history of offshore seismic imaging, from 2D to 3D narrow-azimuth streamer acquisition and to its leading the wide-azimuth movement with the Shenzi rich-azimuth (RAZ) survey. Each RAZ reprocessing project over the last 15 years applied the latest processing technology, culminating in hundreds of scenario tests to refine the salt model, but eventually the RAZ data reached a technical limit. A new ocean-bottom-node (OBN) survey acquired in 2020 has produced a step-change improvement over the legacy RAZ image. The uplift can be attributed to several factors. First, an OBN feasibility and survey design study demonstrated that a core of dense nodes combined with sparse nodes would improve the accuracy and resolution of the full-waveform inversion (FWI) solution. Second, the OBN data acquired following the survey design and employing FWI as the main model-building tool realized the predicted improvement. The result was a substantial change to the complex salt model, verified by a salt proximity survey as well as other salt markers, and improvement in imaging over the entire field. In addition to the improvement arising from a more accurate FWI velocity model, the steep-dip imaging also benefited from the new full-azimuth and long-offset data. However, the best steep-dip and fault imaging comes from the FWI image, a direct estimation of reflectivity from the FWI velocity. As the maximum frequency used by FWI moves toward the maximum frequency of the final reverse time migration (RTM), the FWI image approaches the resolution necessary to compete as the primary interpretation volume. Its subsalt illumination surpassed that of the RTM and even the least-squares RTM volumes. These imaging improvements are providing a new understanding of the faults and stratigraphic relationships of the field.

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