Looking Harder and Finding Less—Use of the Computer in Petroleum Exploration
The decade of the 70’s was marked by steady, if unspectacular, progress in the use of computers by the petroleum industry. Digital seismic processing in the field of geophysics was the single most significant development, and promises to alter many basic procedures in exploration. Programs and techniques for computer mapping have improved significantly during the decade; contour mapping now is probably the most important application of computers to geologic aspects of petroleum exploration. Data banks have grown tremendously, and rapid interactive retrieval systems permit display of combined seismic and geologic information as maps and cross sections. Minicomputer systems are promising to bring dramatic changes to log-interpretation procedures and to the making of subsurface lithofacies maps, increasingly valuable exploration tools for defining stratigraphic traps. Computational advances in the area of petroleum resource assessment allow modeling of economic potential for large areas. These techniques include both economic and geologic considerations.
Data banking, log analysis, and contour mapping are extremely basic procedures, routinely required for almost all exploration activities. Aside from the more exciting geophysical applications, the use of computers in petroleum exploration seems to have advanced during the past decade through the determined refinement of such basic techniques.
KeywordsAcoustic Impedance Stratigraphic Trap Triangular Mesh Petroleum Exploration Seismic Line
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- ACI, 1971, Contouring with faulting: Applications Consultants, Inc., Houston, Texas, 36 p.Google Scholar
- Akers, H., Jr., 1917, Monte Carlo range-of-values program description: Internal Memorandum [May 1977], Conservation Division, U.S. Geol. Survey, 73 p.Google Scholar
- Becquey, M., Lavergne, M., and Willm, C., 1979, Acoustic impedance logs computed from seismic traces: Geophysics, v. 44, no. 9, p. 1485–1501.Google Scholar
- Berlanga, J.M., 1979, Oil exploration outcome probabilities in the Tabasco Basin, Mexico, as estimated by use of seismic information: unpubl. doctoral dissertation, Stanford Univ., 120 p.Google Scholar
- Bornemann, E., 1979, Well-log analysis as a tool for lithofacies determination in the Viola Limestone (Ordovician) of south-central Kansas: unpubl. doctoral dissertation, Syracuse Univ., 151 p.Google Scholar
- Davis, J.C., 1975, Contouring algorithms, in Aangeenbrug, R.T., ed., Auto-Carto II, Proc. Intern. Symp. on Computer-Assisted Cartography: U.S. Dept. Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Washington, D.C., p. 352–359.Google Scholar
- Davis, J.C., and Harbaugh, J.W., 1980, Comment on oil and gas in offshore tracts: Estimates before and after drilling: Science, v. 209, no. 4460, p. 1047–1048.Google Scholar
- Dobrin, M.B., 1980, Computer processing of seismic reflections in petroleum exploration, in Merriam, D.F., ed., Computer applications in the earth sciences, an update of the 70’s: Plenum Press, New York, this volume.Google Scholar
- Doveton, J.H., and Cable, H.W., 1979, Fast matrix methods for the lithologic interpretation of geophysical logs, in Gill, D. and Merriam, D.F., eds., Geomathematical and petrophysical studies in sedimentology: Pergamon Press, Oxford, p. 101–116.Google Scholar
- Drew, L.J., 1974, Estimation of petroleum exploration success and the effects of resource exhaustion via a simulation model: U.S. Geol. Survey Bull. 1328, 25 p.Google Scholar
- Harbaugh, J.W., Doveton, J.H., and Davis, J.C., 1977, Probability methods in oil exploration: John Wiley & Sons, New York, 269 p.Google Scholar
- Kaufman, G.M., Balcer, Y., and Kruyt, D., 1975, A probabilistic model of oil and gas discovery, in Haun, J.D., ed., Methods of estimating the volume of undiscovered oil and gas resources: Am. Assoc. Petroleum Geologists Studies in Geology No. 1, p. 113–142.Google Scholar
- McCullagh, M.J., 1979, Creation and application of variable density grids to oil exploration data (abst.): Am. Assoc. Petroleum Geologists Bull., v. 63, no. 3, p. 494.Google Scholar
- McCullagh, M.J., and Ross, C.G., 1980, The Delaunay triangulation of a random data set: in preparation.Google Scholar
- Newendorp, P.D., 1975, Decision analysis for petroleum exploration: Petroleum Publ. Co., Tulsa, Oklahoma, 668 p.Google Scholar
- SCA, Inc., 1975, Mapping-contouring system: Scientific Computer Applications, Inc., Tulsa, Oklahoma, 39 p.Google Scholar
- Smith, M.B., and Souder, W.W., 1975, Minicomputers for maxi analysis: Soc. Prof. Well Log Analysts, 16th Ann. Logging Symp., R1-13.Google Scholar
- Tracy, P.A., 1978, Petroleum Data System-A network of energy information: Proc. 12th Ann. Mtg., Geoscience Information Society, Seattle, Washington, v. 8, p. 25–30.Google Scholar