Ever since I’ve covered the oil and gas industry, the concept of multidisciplinary integration has seemed like the missing Holy Grail. Different disciplines need to know complementary things about their reservoirs, but their different jargons and data familiarity just have never seemed to match up very well.

This is truly the case with time-lapse seismic, also known as 4-D seismic. Seismic measurements can tell a lot about certain reservoir changes over time, but reservoir engineers are not always familiar with these types of data, and geophysicists might not recognize their implications in field development.

“You get each expert from different disciplines, and they know what they’re doing,” said Mike Mellen, director of business development at The Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG) Advanced Modeling Corp. (SEAM). “But when you pull it all together, you start to find inconsistencies in the way different disciplines make assumptions and view the subsurface. As you start to gather more perspectives and more data from more viewpoints, the uncertainties start to narrow down.”

SEAM was formed 10 years ago to tackle just this sort of challenge. SEAM is the research arm of the SEG. Past SEAM projects have focused on geophysical challenges in land and marine seismic as well as pore pressure prediction and hazard avoidance. The current project, Life of Field, significantly broadens SEAM’s scope. With technical assistance from the Society of Petroleum Engineers, SEAM will model geophysical, rock physics, petrophysical, geomechanical and reservoir flow responses over time in a number of geologic and production scenarios.

The Life of Field project brings SEAM together with experts from E&P and service companies that join as participants. Member companies select the scenarios and make all of the technical decisions. The end result will be benchmark datasets to be used for further R&D, software development and training. But the greatest value is in the collaboration to optimize workflows on “known” models uninhibited by confidential data.

Earlier this year RPSEA, under contract from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, funded SEAM’s Time Lapse Pilot Project. This short six-month proof-of-concept project was a prelude to the current Life of Field project. The results were very promising and helped identify a wide variety of multidisciplinary issues that will be attacked in the full Life of Field project, Mellen said, adding that the full project has enough members to run several different geologic/ production scenarios. The hope is that more members will join, increasing the number of simulations that can be run. Depending on membership interest, CO2 injection and sequestration or other EOR techniques might be included.

“SEAM focuses on grand challenges,” Mellen said. “We’re trying to pull together larger groups of people from across the industry to attack these grand challenges.”

Editor's Note: This Exploration Technologies column appeared in the December 2016 issue of E&P magazine.