How It Was Made: Hot New Database For Hottest Shale Play

By Staff | February 28, 2017

A story on the release of a well database may not seem as important as a headline detailing a new shale formation find, a major merger amongst E&Ps or a new frack technology. But, when the well database has files for more than 430,000 wells—including thousands of previously unidentified wellbores—all for the hottest shale play in North America at the moment, the story is certainly worth a deeper read. We reached out to the team from TGS, a global provider of geoscientific data products and services, to find out what went into the database, why existing wellbores could have been an issue without the database and what’s next for the data provider.

What went in to developing the database, and, how is it unique from others?

TGS has historically processed and sold highly accurate spatially and rotationally directional surveys for our clients. Through this process, we found that thousands of wellbores within the well file documentation and directional survey reports did not match up with the well logs and other wellbore related data we had acquired from operators and regulators. As the industry moved more and more rapidly toward horizontal drilling and directional drilling, more and more data came through our operational facilities showing similar anomalies. In fact, we found a significant number of the wellbores in the shale plays to be wellbores not previously identified elsewhere.

Through our process, we identified the missing boreholes, spatially corrected the well locations, and validated elevations for every well. As operators were going back in to mature fields like those in the Permian which had a huge inventory of legacy vertical wells, and as the new wells being drilled included more and more horizontal wellbores, the HSE risks alone were enough to make companies take pause and think about what might be down there they may not be aware of.

TGS relocated and re-digitized well logs, processed directional surveys, digitized mud, lithology and stratigraphy data, picked formation tops, developed three distinct basin temperature models (Delaware, Central Platform and Midland Basins), created GIS polygons of the fields, pools and formations along with aggregated production volumes for each layer. It was a monumental effort by our sourcing teams, data entry staff, geologists and even our software development teams! Tens of millions of dollars of investment later, we have the most complete, top to bottom, basin-wide view of the Permian available.

How can the database be used and what problems might it solve?

The Permian database can be used to build a subsurface geological framework for regional as well as detailed local evaluations. Our data provides the foundation for structural, stratigraphic and petrophysical models.

With such a diversity of available products, exploration, A&D and new venture teams are seeing the biggest immediate benefit from a Permian-wide package of data sets. The well performance data and EUR’s further opens the Permian up to engineers, financial companies (banks, private equity and venture capitalists) and service companies.

What did you learn from creating this database and what’s next for the team?

Through the Permian project, we have established a complete model and workflow of how to approach the next area of interest. The Anadarko Basin is already significantly complete, with the Eagle Ford not far behind. Based on customer demand, TGS will continue to develop the shale plays throughout North America.