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[STUDY] Geophysics Multi-Billion-Barrel Giant: Unlocking the Bakken Shale/Three Forks Play


Clocking in at roughly 200,000 square miles across North Dakota and Montana, the Bakken Shale/Three Forks play is a geophysical, geologic and engineering puzzle that can overwhelm even the most seasoned explorationist.

Gaining a detailed understanding of an area the size of the Appalachian region of the US, which spans 13 states from New York to South Carolina, is a daunting task – to say the least.

Once you get beyond the sheer size of the play, you are faced with myriad factors that can swing the Estimated Ultimate Recovery (EUR) of your well hundreds of thousands of barrels in one direction or another. As you can imagine, factors such as depth, thickness and Total Organic Carbon (TOC) vary wildly across such an immense geological expanse.

Predictive Analytics and Geophysics

However, as Geoscientists we are lucky to live in an era where the phenomena of “Big Data” is fundamentally reshaping the way we understand the subsurface. The term has become a bit of a buzzword as of late, but to paraphrase the Smart Data Collective, Big Data is often defined along three dimensions – volume, velocity and variety. With today’s technology, we can mine massive amounts of data faster than we ever imagined and simultaneously find statistical correlations among disparate datasets in the blink of an eye.

This was a major factor in Drillinginfo’s decision to acquire Transform. The predictive analytics our software performs is well suited to manage data overload and identify key statistical relationships.

URTeC Takeaways

I recently had the great pleasure of speaking at the inaugural Unconventional Resources Technology Conference in Denver, Colorado. I was able to unpack the white paper we released leading up to the conference titled, “An Analytic Approach to Geologic Interpretation and Petrophysical Modeling of the Bakken/Three Forks Plays.”

I had a lot of ground to cover in the time I had, but we took a look at how we are able to leverage interpretation and modeling to analyze thousands of well logs, remove redundant data, automatically classify lithofacies and interpret geologic tops. We then looked at how to use that data to characterize regional sweetspots.

The reaction to the presentation was outstanding. Early adopters throughout oil and gas are applying the same analytic techniques used extensively in professional sports and finance to reduce risk and optimize field development. And now the rest of the industry wants in. After all, if data mining was good enough to help Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s create the longest win streak in the modern era, is there any question it couldn’t help maximize your success rate? Clearly not.

Study Up

Therefore, we decided to make the white paper available for anyone to download who would like a greater understanding of how to quickly identify vertical and regional sweetspots, hierarchical formations and variable facies. The best part is the findings in the study apply to anyone looking for analogues around the world, not just operators working the Bakken/Three Forks.

To get your copy, simply fill in the blanks below and click “Download.”

Your Turn

After you read over the findings, please come back to this post and leave your biggest takeaway in the comments below. I would love to hear your thoughts.

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Murray Roth

Murray Roth is Vice President of Global Consulting and President of Transform Products at Drillinginfo. He began his career at Geophysical Service Inc., working in seismic acquisition, seismic processing and special project groups. Roth joined Landmark Graphics in 1989, contributing in roles spanning customer support, testing, product development and marketing. He left in 2004 to form Transform Software and Services, which Drillinginfo acquired in June 2013. Murray graduated with an astrophysics degree from the University of Calgary.