Remote Steering in the Age of the Pandemic

In March 2020, humankind is paralyzed by measures taken to slow the spread of the Coronavirus. Industries and businesses are rapidly adapting to the challenges posed by restricted interaction. At the same time, the Oil and Gas industry, already hit hard by the Saudi-Russia price war, is working towards cutting costs in an increasingly competitive oil and gas market.

One of the technologies that addresses both issues (more social distancing and lower pricing) is remote geosteering.

Remote Geosteering

Remote geosteering involves the continuous supervision from a central location of drilling operations at a rig, using specialized software and real-time data acquisition. Deliverables include determination of stratigraphic position of the wellbore, calculation of apparent dip along the lateral legs and targets projected ahead of the drillbit.

Remote geosteering became widespread in unconventional shale resource plays and some clastic plays. Monotonous lithologies with clear and consistent log signatures allow for confident and precise correlation of MWD/LWD curves and offset type logs.

Specialized Geosteering

Advanced geosteering software such as StarSteer evolved by becoming more complex and at the same time easier to use. Single well, single curve correlations gave way to pad or pool wide correlation of multiple LWD curves with multiple typelogs simultaneously. Massive data management and analytics become more prominent.

Addition of geomodel capabilities (interpolation mapping, incorporation of seismic grids, cross-section correlations, formation marker picking, etc) allow the concept to be applied to reservoirs beyond unconventional shale. Thin clastic reservoir wells with some lateral variability can be steered from remote locations using grid slices in addition to traditional correlation techniques. Multiple wells overlay allow multi-leg wells to be drilled fast after the first leg drilling established the stratigraphic trend and eliminated reservoir uncertainty. Resistivity modeling allow simulated resistivity response to be compared with LWD curves while drilling in estuarine and fluvial deposits with high lateral variability where standoff to bottom is crucial in reservoir development, or carbonate reservoirs with virtually flat gamma response.

Remote Geosteering Projects

Requirements for remote geosteering requires minimal setup, and include the following:

  • Type well with LAS curves and tops
  • Directional prognosis
  • Geological prognosis
  • WITSML data stream

Remote Geosteering deliverables include the following:

  • Stratigraphic position along the borehole
  • Apparent dip along the wellbore
  • In-zone statistics
  • Targets projections ahead of the bit
Geosteering Station

Updates are sent to area geologists and targets are proposed to remote or on-site directional drillers at regular intervals. Colaborative spaces, such as Rogii’s Solo platform are used to share interpretations in real time. In addition, it works well with the social distance expected during the pandemic isolation.

Where do we go from here?

Lower oil price will certainly depress drilling activity in the short and possibly in the medium term too. Cost efficiencies will play an important role. Remote operations combined with data analytics will continue to be a growing part of the upstream oil industry. Software assisted geosteering methods are becoming commonplace, expanding from unconventional reservoir to conventional and tight clastic reservoirs, as well as thermal oil sands. The methodology is expanding beyond oil and gas and into geothermal and mining industries.

Chinook has ample experience in remote geosteering operations, having applied the concept for more than 10 years, in many reservoirs and application types, from shale and tight sand to SAGD development, geothermal wells, coal seam gas and solution mining projects. We have available hardware and software capacity, along with experienced personnel ready to take on new projects.

Calin Dragoie

Posted On:
March 17, 2020

Geoscience, Uncategorized