Exploring for Subtle Mission Canyon Stratigraphic Traps
with Elastic-Wavefield Seismic Technology

(A study funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and Vecta Exploration)

Bob A. Hardage, principal investigator; Milo M. Backus, Michael V. DeAngelo, Robert J. Graebner, Jeffrey A. Kane, Paul E. Murray, and Diana C. Sava

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This study is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and Vecta Exploration. In its subcontract to Vecta Exploration, Inc., the Exploration Geophysics Laboratory (EGL), is developing a new seismic technology to explore for subtle Mission Canyon oolitic limestone reservoirs in the Williston Basin. This technology will be based on the acquisition and application of full-elastic (9-component) seismic data. Mission Canyon reservoirs are elusive targets when exploration is based on conventional compressional (P) wave seismic data. The attraction of 9-component (9-C) seismic data is that three shear (S) wave modes can also be used for target imaging: SH-SH (horizontal shear), SV-SV (vertical shear), and P-SV (converted shear) modes. Work at EGL has shown that each mode of an elastic wavefield can, and often does, image stratal surfaces across a target interval differently than do other elastic modes. Thus, any of the S modes can depict seismic sequences and seismic facies that are not observed using P waves. This rich, expanded source of stratigraphic and lithofacies information in full-elastic seismic wavefields needs to be utilized in Mission Canyon exploration. The objectives of this study are to acquire, process, and interpret 9C3D seismic data across Mission Canyon plays, develop relationships between drilling objectives and elastic-wavefield attributes, drill confirmation wells, and then share research findings so that full-elastic seismic technology can be applied to improve oil exploration across other areas.

For more information, please contact Bob Hardage. Telephone 512-471-0300; e-mail bob.hardage@beg.utexas.edu.

February 2003