Fracture and satellite hyperspectral analysis for petroleum exploration

Although the importance of fracture porosity and permeability to producibility has long been recognized, 30 years ago one seldom intentionally explored for fracture targets. Times have changed, and companies are pursuing a variety of fracture plays like the Barnett shale, Niobrara, Austin chalk, coalbed methane and “hydrothermal” dolomite plays. Understanding fractured reservoirs has evolved to the point that they now constitute an intentional exploration target. Before horizontal drilling and 3D seismic acquisition, fractured reservoir targets were notoriously difficult to explore for and drill successfully. It is still costly and frustrating to explore for these targets without some method of focusing the acquisition of seismic data. Two research projects by Earth Satellite Corp. in 1997 and 2002 for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) focused on Devonian shale reservoirs and the fractured carbonate reservoirs of the Trenton-Black River sequence.1,2 These demonstrated that careful analysis of satellite data can provide guidance for seismic data acquisition and orientation of horizontal boreholes.

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