1.5 Structural and stratigraphic modeling

Once the data gathered and a sense has been given to them by the modeler and his/her team, it is time to build the geomodel. The first step is to create the surfaces delimiting the different geological units (Figure 1) Those will be a mix of horizons (stratigraphic modeling) and potentially faults (structural modeling). If each surface is only defined by well tops, the interpolation will likely be poorly constrained and the model will be highly uncertain far from the wells. If those surfaces were also interpreted on seismic, the interpolation will respect both the well tops and the seismic interpretation and the result will be more reliable: not certain, but at least “less” uncertain.

Structural and stratigraphic modeling involves more than just interpolating data. The modeler must choose an interpolation technique that properly mimics the geological context of the reservoir. Figure 2 illustrates this – this simple reservoir will also be used in the next sections of this chapter. The reservoir is made of a single geological unit delimited by two horizons A and B. Three wells have been drilled and picked (W1, W2 and W3). W2 is not deep enough and it doesn’t reach the horizon B. The top horizon A is easily built by interpolating the TVDSS values of the three well picks. How shall the horizon B now be modeled?

Two mathematical approaches are possible. With approach 1, the TVDSS of the two well picks B are interpolated, in the same way the horizon A was modeled. With approach 2, the thickness of the unit is interpolated and then the TVDSS of the horizon B is defined as being equal to the TVDSS of horizon A minus the local thickness of the unit. As shown on Figure 2, the resulting geometry of the horizon B varies a lot depending on the technique being applied. Furthermore, the well picks alone (the data) can’t help us decide which approach should be used. Only a geologist could answer this. Based on his/her understanding of the geological context and on his/her work on the logs, the cores and the surrounding area, he/she might conclude that:

  • Unit A was deposited above an unconformity (Unit B). The two horizons should be modeled separately (approach 1). Or…
  • Unit A and Unit B are conformable one to the other. The two horizons should be modeled together (approach 2).
In case the data are inconclusive, then two models might be needed to capture this uncertainty: one following the approach 1 and one following the approach 2.

As illustrated with the modeling of the Teapot Dome (Figure 3), faults are also modeled as surfaces.

Table of contents


Chapter 1 - Overview of the Geomodeling Workflow

Chapter 2 - Geostatistics

Chapter 3 - Geologists and Geomodeling

Chapter 4 - Petrophysicists and Geomodeling

Chapter 5 - Geophysicists and Geomodeling

Chapter 6 - Reservoir Engineers and Geomodeling

Chapter 7 - Reserve Engineers and Geomodeling

Chapter 8 - to be published in the summer 2019

To be published mid-March 2018

Chapter 9 - to be published in the summer 2019

To be published mid-March 2018


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