A Straw Too Many

This is not going to be about the damage to the environment caused by the proliferation of plastic straws (but I do recommend that paper ones be used – they are being sold again you know – or just sip from the glass – glasses are specifically designed to be sipped from.)

No. This is an article about some other wastefulness – over-drilling.

The popular phrase of the moment in the unconventional world seems to be ‘Parent-Child Relationship Issues’. That is, just like real-life human families, the more children you have, the faster the poor parent’s resources will be sucked dry. There has to be a sensible limit both in the amount of wells poked into a formation and children running around the house.

For the last two weeks or so, the SPE’s ‘Journal of Petroleum Technology’ has run pieces on the increasing focus on shale production with the ‘Parent-Child’ thing being the major issue. The salient point in the last article I read was that unless fewer wells were squeezed into a certain area of rock, then those wells will start to produce less and less – quickly. Just think about it – give ten kids a straw each (a paper straw remember) and only one glass of lemonade, well, no-one’s going to be happy.

Straws are cheap. Ten wells sunk into the ground are not. They cost a lot of money to drill and they cost a lot of money to fracture and complete. If well number 1 just happens to be sucking a lot harder on its ‘straw’ than well number 10, or 3, or 7, or whichever, hopefully the returns from well number 1 compensate for the drilling and completion costs of the other poor performers.

Now, according to a recent Spear’s blog-post I saw, the average number of wells per pad throughout the continental USA is in fact about 3 or 4. That doesn’t sound bad, but of course there are pads with up to 10 wells and some with only 1. In either of these extreme cases, there must surely be room for improvement. Lets save some drilling costs and only poke 6 ‘straws’ into our reservoir here, or lets add a couple more into our 1-well pad here, and hopefully tap into some hidden hydrocarbons.

The question of course is how many children are needed, how much are they going to cost, are they going to be useful or just a drain, and where on earth should they be put for the most benefit? Unfortunately, for geologists working on plans for a productive field, the answers to such well-centric questions can often be hard to answer because the data may not be there. You just don’t know. You think you know. But you don’t. You’re just making the best choice you can with the information that you do have.

economic geologic evaluation over your padI mean, look at the picture on the left. Lots of wells, many of which are probably heading down and into the same target formation. A target that has been deemed good with some probably low resolution seismic data, some wireline and/or LWD data, and some excellent core data from an 8-inch pilot hole somewhere or other in that picture. What needs to be remembered is that an 8-inch cylinder of rock at point ‘A’ will not fully represent points ‘B’ through ‘Z’. Geology is a tricky thing, (and coming back to the children theme) every well, like every child will be different. They need to be watched pretty constantly!

Alright then, back to the issue of wastefulness. What would it be worth if improved geological knowledge could be achieved on a pad, field, or region? What if that knowledge helped in the drilling of correctly spaced wells allowing a fracture program to be designed without fear of damaging parent or sibling wells. This would have to make life easier, less uncertain, and would probably save money. Unnecessary wells would not have to be drilled and there would be savings on ineffective fracturing. I’ll also throw out for debate the supposition that production might be enhanced, and the whole project would become more profitable.

improve cost savings and ROIBut how do we improve our knowledge? How do we gain the geological certainty needed to place each well correctly? Because it is geological certainty that is needed. Pretty much every article agrees that it’s the rocks that hold the key to better performance, but, apart from that 8-inch cylinder of rock in the middle of a vast expanse of West Texas or wherever, we do not have much to look at, scientifically speaking.

There are ways to get the data of course. Wireline, LWD, cores – methods that are used in vertical pilots, but probably not so much in the laterals. Hey – we hit the target our 8-inch cylinder of rock from several miles away told us to hit and the cuttings sort of look the same, so we’re good right? Plus, that wireline, LWD, and core stuff is way too expensive to run in every well. Let’s just rock along with the status quo.

What if there was a better way? The initial problem is clear – money wasted and production compromised. The answer to this is also clear – better geology from every well drilled. Which raises the secondary problem of having to spend a bunch of money to get the better geology. So … the better way is?

The better way is to get quantitative, scientifically accurate data that can be used for correlation, interpretation, use in geological models, etc., etc., from every sample on every well, and, here’s the best part, at a price that fits every cost-conscious operator’s budget. It combines old-tech with new-tech and some hard work and a lot of expertise.

Diversified Well Logging LLC., is calling this ‘Hybrid Mud Logging’, a ‘Surface Measurement While Drilling (SMWD)’ service. No more subjective lithology percentages or descriptions on the mud-log, but accurate modeled mineralogy or lithology, allowing integration with geosteering, and of course, real-time, cross-field correlation which can let you know whether or not you have one child too many draining your resources, or whether you could possibly fit in one more before you quit your pad.

Bottom line; SMWD from Diversified provides the geological certainty that can save operators hundreds of thousands of wasted dollars, while adding millions through better production at a cost that makes the service hard to ignore.

Forget the status quo – Diversify your Well Logging.