It is my pleasure to bring to you some fine articles by my friends and colleagues. All these articles were solicited by me for this special section because I have seen the excellent work that these passionate, first-rate geophysicists are doing and I wish to bring their outstanding work to the attention of the wider geophysics community. I asked the primary authors to submit and I am very grateful to all of them and their co-authors for providing such excellent articles. Dragana enriches every project she touches through her passion for and knowledge of geophysics. As a result, interpreting complex reservoirs like the oil sands comes naturally to her. She and her co-authors set the context for oil sands reservoir interpretation in a problem-solving framework. Tammy is an up-andcoming young geophysicist successfully implementing leading edge seismic reservoir characterization technologies. She and Garrett combine these with their geologic grasp of the depositional environment to substantially improve their understanding of their reservoir and unlock its value. We all need to learn to demonstrate the real value of geophysics. Their paper is particularly important because they demonstrate the economic value of geophysics for their play. I have been admiring Ted’s microseismic work since the late 90’s. Microseismic is going to be an important tool in the future of the oil sands. Ted continues to be on the forefront of every practical advancement in microseismic. He and Katie show that recent advancements in microseismic evaluation have important applications in oil sands. I encourage you to read the articles in this January Focus on Oil Sands and learn what these incisive geophysicists would like you to know.

Dragana, Jan, and I (Strategies to fill in the details for an oil sands reservoir: Kinosis example) provide the theme for the section with the idea that “the key is to ask the data the right questions about the reservoir”. All of these articles follow that problem solving paradigm. Dragana, Jan and I develop the concept of oil sands interpretation as a problem solving exercise. Focus on the basic problem(s) you are trying to solve. Conventional interpretation is just the starting point, building the skeleton for the material interpretation, which is expanded through attributes and then focused problem solving for reservoir characterization fleshes out the skeleton to find where the bitumen is and what is around it.

Tammy and Garrett (Characterization of the Albian Lower Grand Rapids Formation, Cold Lake, Alberta) employ these concepts to add real value to their oil sands play. Tammy uses joint PP and PS pre-stack inversion to derive density. Density fleshes out the conventional interpretation to differentiate bitumen sands from mudstones. They show how the combination of the inversion with conventional seismic interpretation and depositional models brings clarity to the understanding of their reservoir. The result is a much clearer pay map, which is in line with the geologic understanding of the area. A geologically sound pay map will allow them to develop this reservoir optimally, increasing its value to the company.

Microseismic will be a significant tool in the future of oil sands developments, primarily because of concerns about caprock. Beyond that, Ted and Katie (Microseismic Monitoring Applications in Heavy Oil Reservoirs) show it has many more uses in oil sands reservoirs and demonstrate that it will be a valuable tool to infer reservoir behavior. Microseismic monitoring has been rapidly developing new techniques through it use in hydraulic fracturing. It is no longer “dots in a box”. These new techniques are relevant for oil sands reservoirs. Ted and Katie show several examples of what can be done today using microseismic monitoring in oil sands reservoirs, including seismic moment tensor inversion that shows changes of maximum stress direction with depth in an oil sands reservoir. They demonstrate that failure mechanisms, e.g. tensile, shear, explosive, implosive, etc., can be determined and that the failure mechanisms help us to understand how the steam chambers are evolving.

I hope that you enjoy reading these articles as much as I have. I am very grateful to these authors for sharing some fine geophysics with all of us. I use or I am trying to use all of the techniques described here in our oil sands plays and elsewhere. It is my aspiration that these articles will give you a leg up on where oil sands geophysics is going and that you will be able to use these techniques too.

David Gray



About the Author(s)

David Gray is Discipline Lead – Geophysics in Nexen’s Long Lake Oil Sands Project. David is working on combining various types of geophysical data to improve static reservoir and geomechanical models to speed up these simulations in oil sands.

David Gray received a Bachelor of Science in Honours Geophysics from the University of Western Ontario in 1984 and a Master of Mathematics in Statistics from the University of Waterloo in 1989. David has worked in the oil and gas industry since 1983 and joined Nexen in 2010 after working for Veritas for 22 years. David is considered an expert in AVO (having published the so-called “Gray AVO Equations”) and seismic fracture detection and geomechanics. David has been working with AVO, inversion, seismic rock properties, seismic fracture detection, seismic geomechanics, multi-component, and seismic signal analysis since 1989. His project experience covers many play types including oil sands, shale gas, tight gas, CBM, carbonates, and conventional reservoirs throughout Western Canada, the Rocky Mountains, China, Mexico, California, the Mackenzie Delta, the North Sea, Europe, the Middle East, the Gulf of Mexico, offshore West Africa, the South China Sea, Australia, Alaska, Texas and the US Gulf Coast.

David is a registered Professional Geophysicist with APEGA since 1990 and he is a member of SPE, CHOA, SEG, EAGE, and CSEG. He is an active volunteer on conference and workshop committees for these associations. David holds two patents, has published 20 papers in various journals of these societies and presented more than 100 papers at various technical conferences. David is the honoree of the 2015 CSEG Symposium. He is a technical reviewer for the journals Geophysics, Geophysical Prospecting, Journal of Canadian Petroleum Technology, Interpretation, the CSEG Recorder, and the Journal of Geophysical Engineering.

In his spare time, David likes to spend time with his family, write and present technical papers, participate in volleyball and grassroots motorsports. David competes in sports car racing, time-attack, autocross, and rallycross. David is the 2014 Alberta Time-Attack champion. David also volunteers as a driving instructor teaching advanced driving with the Southern Alberta Solosport Club and the Alberta BMW Club.



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