The term "reliable technology" was added to the lexicon of oil and gas reserves estimation with the updated regulations published by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in late 2008. A previous paper by the co-authors (2010), SPE 129689, described an approach to the demonstration that a technology satisfied the criteria of a reliable technology. This paper builds on the use of the scientific method, as described in the previous paper, by examining a real-life example of seismic interpretation to define water contacts downdip of hydrocarbon column penetrations.
Complex technologies, such as seismic, require careful and detailed calibration and testing to demonstrate the consistency and repeatability needed to qualify as a reliable technology. However, this complexity need not preclude that technology from use as reliable. Proper analysis of the science behind the technology and testing to demonstrate those circumstances which allow reliable conclusions from the technology will permit even a complex technology to be qualified as acceptable.
The example used is from the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) Deepwater. It gives the results from several turbidite sand reservoirs in multiple fields to demonstrate the conditions under which certain seismic can be shown as reliable. The learnings from these applications allow the development of a "reliability qualification checklist" which defines the conditions under which the seismic data are definitive. Then it describes the final testing of the "reliable data" to determine when a seismically interpreted water contact is sufficiently conclusive to be reasonably certain.
This paper will provide a useful description of how the qualification of a technology can be planned, tested and conclusions drawn. It will provide examples of constraints that develop from the theoretical analysis and testing results and show how these constraints can be incorporated into a set of limitations on the application of the technology. While certain elements of the technology are discussed in this paper, it is not the authors intent to provide an exhaustive description of the seismic theory and methods used for this example. Rather, the paper will focus on the reliability demonstration process.