Characterization of the Cana-Woodford Shale using fractal-based, stochastic inversion, Canadian County, Oklahoma

Borgman, Barry Michael
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The past decade has seen a surge in unconventional hydrocarbon exploration and production, driven by advances in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Even with such advances, reliable models of the subsurface are crucial in all phases of exploitation. This study focuses on the methods used for estimation of the elastic properties (density, velocity, and impedance), which play a key role in targeting reservoir zones ideal for hydraulic fracturing. Well-log data provides high-resolution vertical measurements of elastic properties, but a relatively shallow depth of investigation imposes spatial limitations. Seismic data provides broader horizontal coverage at lower cost, but sacrifices vertical resolution. Thin beds present in many unconventional reservoirs fall below seismic resolution. In addition, the band-limited nature of seismic data results in the absence of low-frequency content of the Earth model, as well as the high-frequency content present in well logs. Seismic inversion is a process that provides estimates of elastic properties given input seismic and well data. Stochastic inversion is a method that uses well-log data as a priori information, with an added aspect of randomness. The method generates many realizations using the same input model and takes an average of those realizations. We implement two separate stochastic inversion algorithms to estimate P-impedance in the Cana-Woodford Shale in west-central Oklahoma. First, we use a fractal-based, very fast simulated annealing algorithm that exploits the fractal characteristics found in well-log data to build a prior model. The method of very fast simulated annealing optimizes our elastic model by searching for the minimum misfit between observed and synthetic seismic traces. Next, we use a principal component analysis (PCA) based stochastic inversion algorithm to invert for impedance at all traces simultaneously. Comparison of the results with traditional deterministic inversion results shows improved vertical resolution while honoring the low-frequency content of the Earth model. The PCA-based inversion results also show improved lateral continuity of the elastic profile along our 2D line. The impedance profile from the PCA-based approach provides a better representation of the vertical and horizontal variability of the reservoir, allowing for improved targeting of frackable zones.