For years I have lived my life by the mantra, ‘When you don’t know what to do, you know what to do: research!’ There is great comfort knowing that you can turn to history or more knowledgeable, experienced people to provide facts and guide you. This tactic can be applied to all aspects of life – relationships, health, and/or professional. But how do you know that the resources you go to for guidance are accurate or even useful? If you aren’t careful you may end up following misguided advice! For instance, you might carry a sprig of lavender in your pocket to avoid craving unhealthy food or you might even believe that “if he swallows while talking, he’s lying” (Cosmo). It takes more than just instinct to know which voice of authority you can listen to. I have found that the best way to mitigate this is to look for continuity in observations and proven results. Results that can be tied back to measureable properties. I’m pretty sure that all men (truthful or not) swallow while they’re talking, so there isn’t much value in this statement! In the oil and gas industry, value provided by geophysical data can be estimated by decision tree analysis and proven by integrating with measureable qualities or quantities from engineering and geology. How to use seismic data, then, becomes a thoughtful process which is part of an in depth business decision.

What you have before you is a very special edition of the CSEG RECORDER. The Value of Integrated Geophysics (VIG) Edition is a compilation of papers that demonstrate how the concept of value must be at the forefront of how we manage seismic projects.

To start off the VIG Edition Lee Hunt has authored a thorough examination of the accomplishments of the VIG Committee since its inception. George Fairs then summarizes the columns that have been published in the RECORDER since May 2013. This is a great list to use as a resource! Following the summary are three brand new papers with case studies that focus on the value of integrated geophysics.

The first article, by Lee Hunt, Articulating the time, cost, and benefits of a seismic processing project, is a model illustrating seismic processing as a project to be managed. The choices to be made involve which properties to process for (relevance), the relative reliability of those properties, and the time and costs associated with the major elements of the work. The idea of the paper is that by learning to lay seismic out as a project in a similar fashion as engineers and managers do for any other operation, we will be in a better position to communicate our seismic investment proposals as rational, business minded endeavors.

The next article by David Gray et al, Rock Physics Driven Seismic Data Processing for the Athabasca Oil Sands, Northeastern Alberta, is a paper that drives home the importance of processing data in order to extract density information at a high enough resolution to be useful in the delineation of the reservoir properties in McMurray reservoirs. Through the collaboration between processor and interpreter, and rethinking the processing sequence, remarkable improvements are possible, not only in the extraction of density, but also in the imaging and resolution of this oil sands reservoir as a whole. David shows how using anisotropic velocities to stabilize the offsets and improving frequency bandwidth by an octave at the low end is very important for the density inversion. Density inversion can go on to be used to predict porosity, lithology, saturation, and caprock strength; parameters that reflect the value of this reservoir.

Value Oriented Quality Control in Seismic Processing, by Lee Hunt et al, is about integrating the processor with the interpreter and the economic motivation of the project. The suggestion is that value oriented quality control (VOQC) needs to be added from start to finish on seismic reprocessing projects. VOQC focus is on understanding the impact of processing steps on the end goal, or economic driver, for the project. The article shows an interesting conundrum of noise being brought up by resolution enhancement processes and the consequent need to reduce that noise with noise attenuation. The authors suggest that the effect of new noise attenuation algorithms on AVO should always be tested.

So when you are starting a project, if you don’t know what to do, then follow the advice of the authors in this VIG Edition. First, hypothesize where and how value can be added to the project at hand. Then test your hypothesis by doing the work and correlating your results to appropriate economically focused engineering and geology data. And don’t forget to determine the value that your geophysical results provided to the project. Follow this advice and your results will be deemed a reliable resource for your company. No need to carry smelly flowers or pool saliva in your mouth (yuck), just focus on value and common business sense. Enjoy!

Why a Special Edition Focus on the Value of Integrated Geophysics?

George Fairs, Past Chair VIG

It is very exciting for the Value of Integrated Geophysics (VIG) Committee of the CSEG to host this issue of the RECORDER focused upon Value. The entire VIG Committee would like to express our thanks to the RECORDER committee for this great opportunity.

Before we focus on the value of geophysics and its place within our industry perhaps we should consider what value actually is. A quick search on the Oxford Dictionaries Language matters website garners a definition of value as “The regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something”.

What we are concerned with in the VIG committee is communicating to the members of the CSEG as well as the engineers, geologists and members of the financial community with whom we work and interact with “the importance, worth, or usefulness of” geophysical data and the geophysical method in providing relevant answers to the present day concerns of the petroleum industry. Through our various efforts and initiatives, including this RECORDER issue, we have shown and will continue to show how to determine, calculate and communicate the measurable value of Geophysics.

In a business environment dominated by resource plays, unconventional plays and statistical drilling as opposed to geophysics many companies have greatly reduced their use of geophysical data in their operations. We the members of the CSEG must continuously strive to find new methods and improve existing methods of determining and communicating the value of geophysics, the geophysical method and the geophysicist her or himself. Whether your profession has you in acquisition, processing, interpretation, or management, there are always opportunities to show and prove the value of geophysics to your fellow professionals. The VIG welcomes and articles, columns or papers demonstrating how our members have been able demonstrate and communicate the value of geophysics. Should you, dear reader, have something you wish to contribute please forward it to myself at, or to the incoming VIG Chair John Duhault at

Myself and all members of the VIG committee hope this issue provides inspiration and knowledge. We harbour one hope to an even higher degree: that in some small way these efforts combine with yours not to promote the value in geophysics, or the value of geophysics, but instead that we move towards the collective goal of actually adding value, and being valuable. Go and add more value tomorrow than today, and then more the day after.

The accomplishments to date of the Value of Integrated Geophysics (VIG) Committee

Lee Hunt, P. Geoph.
One of the founding members of the VIG Committee

The mandate of the VIG committee is to facilitate an improved use of geophysics for business purposes. Improving the use of geophysics for business is inherently a value oriented goal. The committee hoped to achieve this goal through several different initiatives that sprung primarily from addressing the key obstacles to the efficient and effective use of geophysics in business. The Committee defined its key obstacle set as three causally related shortcomings:

  1. The unsatisfactory understanding of value oriented geophysics within the geophysical community.
  2. The unsatisfactory levels of value oriented geophysical methods used within industry.
  3. The generally poor quality and quantity of communication between geophysicists and the other disciplines, particularly engineers, relative to how geophysics could add value with current industrial problems.

Since the inception of the VIG committee in the spring of 2013, we have strived to fulfill our mandate of improving the business use of geophysics by addressing these three problems. We have done so by using a variety of methods including publication, presentations, inter society outreach and support of other CSEG activities.

Hoist by our own petard, and unhoisting ourselves

The notion that geophysics has become increasingly subordinate and decreasingly used in Canada has been on the minds of much of the CSEG membership in recent years. The notion that this perceived turn of events may be partially our own doing is an uncomfortable one. The VIG committee chose to act on the hypothesis that we geophysicists have indeed been part of the problem, and therefore have to be part of the solution. If, as stated in key shortcomings #1, and #2, we really have not, in general, used or even understood value oriented geophysics sufficiently, then we have a simple task in front of us: learn about value oriented geophysical techniques, and then apply them. None of this is to say that some, perhaps many, persons have not done a good job at applying value oriented techniques. Of course those persons exist; unfortunately they have been too few to the problems facing our industry, and instead of representing the mainstream, those value oriented geophysicists have stood out more like a series of isolated, albeit beautiful islands. We have been hoisted into the current predicament at least partially by our own petards. We need to unhoist ourselves. We can only start to do this by galvanizing the wider membership. The solution to galvanizing our geophysical community is to communicate. The VIG committee chose to promote communication first and foremost within its own community in the hopes of teaching value oriented geophysical methods. This “teaching” could take the form of value oriented theory or technique, or could take the form of business oriented case study. Shortcoming #1 would be addressed if this was done well, and if enough communication were to occur, our islands of VIG activity would grow closer together, eventually becoming the mainland of a pervasive use of business relevant geophysics (and thus addressing shortcoming #2). And so it followed, that the VIG committee communicated through publishing and making presentations with the geophysical community.

Our publication efforts began with a series of articles and columns within the RECORDER which ran from the May 2013 until May of 2014. The articles eventually became known as the regular VIG column, which sometimes made them appear a little too obscure in the RECORDER. The VIG column addressed a variety of issues including value oriented techniques, critical thinking, decision analysis, effective communication, geomechanics, reserves estimation, and case studies. A summary of these articles will appear elsewhere in this issue, but they are worth reviewing by the CSEG membership.

The VIG committee wanted to produce at least one value oriented case study in a peer reviewed international journal. Case studies of this nature in respected journals are crucial for geophysicists communicating to each other (shortcomings #1 and #2), and in communicating to colleagues in other disciplines (shortcoming #3). Articles like this could be used as a handy reference by members of the CSEG. Lee Hunt had this idea in mind when he wrote and submitted a paper on integrated interpretation methods showing value within the Wilrich to INTERPRETATION, a peer reviewed journal jointly published by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG) and the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG). This paper was published in the May 2014 issue of INTERPRETATION.

The VIG book, and this special edition

The need to have a set of value oriented reference materials for the CSEG membership was to evolve through late 2013 and 2014. An initiative to produce a VIG book that would be filled with value oriented reference articles was briefly announced. The idea of the book was to reprint all of the VIG columns to date, and to assemble the best value oriented papers published in the RECORDER. The notion of the VIG book has been temporarily deferred in favour of a less ambitious, but more feasible and practical objective: this CSEG RECORDER VIG Special Edition. This value themed issue of the CSEG RECORDER is a VIG effort championed by Amanda Knowles.


If shortcomings #1 and #2 are intertwined in our own training and workflows, why not get involved in training and education? Lee Hunt assembled a short VIG presentation for younger elements of the geophysical community and presented it to the Geophysical Industry Field Trip (GIFT) and the University of Alberta Undergraduate Geophysics Society (UAGUS). Further presentations of this kind may be considered in 2015. Lee Hunt and John Duhault presented an all day course entitled Value of Geophysics with case histories at the 2014 CSEG DoodleTrian which was well attended and well received. The DoodleTrain VIG course is likely the only course of its kind in exploration geophysics in that it focuses on value and includes topics such as critical thinking and Decision Analysis. The VIG course will evolve over the next few years, and will be used in a variety of ways to help address our weaknesses relative to value orientation and technique.

Communicating outside our disciplines

The VIG committee also reached outside itself to peers in the engineering community. This effort manifested itself in a number of ways, all aimed at addressing shortcoming #3. Our inter-society outreach efforts resulted in two technical luncheons jointly organized with the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Canada. David Gray gave a talk on Seismic-Driven Inter-Well Geomechanical Properties For Oil Sands and Shales at the SPE Calgary talk on October 8th of 2014. The talk was very well attended with an interested and engaged audience. Kurt Wikel organized the CSEG December Technical Luncheon talk entitled Integrating Production Analysis with Microseismic and Fracture Modeling to Characterize Hydraulic Fractures. This talk was presented by Chris Clarkson of the SPE, and was well advertised by the Canadian branch of that engineering society.

As well as the two aforementioned luncheons, our outreach efforts have also included hosting SPE Canada members at the 2014 CSEG Symposium and the 2014 GeoConvention. We have a variety of ongoing efforts concerning SPE Canada that work towards strengthening our ties and increasing cross over events, specifically those which have an opportunity to showcase the value of geophysics.

The VIG and the 2015 CSEG Symposium committee have co-operated on advertising VIG initiatives as well as the 2015 Symposium to members of SPE Canada through a variety of means. It became obvious early on that the goals of the VIG committee and the CSEG Symposium were very closely aligned. To ensure a healthy symbiotic relationship is maintained between the two committees, the chair of the CSEG Symposium committee will also sit on the VIG committee. The VIG committee is investigating an initiative with 2015 GeoConvention committee which if successful will benefit the GeoConvention and its member societies.

Unhoisting in the next year

Meeting the demands of industry is an evolving task. The VIG committee has made a start at promoting value oriented geophysical methods, but much more work lies in front of us. We need to continue to address our key VIG shortcomings through encouraging VIG-like publishing, by reaching out to the CSEG membership in general, as well as to the younger elements of the community, and to our cross-disciplinary peers. I will leave a detailed discussion of how we will do that and what it means to the future plans of the VIG Committee to its new chair Mr. John Duhault on page 52 of this issue.



About the Author(s)

Amanda Knowles is a professional geophysicist at Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNRL) with 7 years of interpretation experience in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin in Alberta and B.C., as well as the Williston and Elk Point Basins in Saskatchewan. Amanda graduated from the University of Toronto in 1996 with an Honours Bachelors of Science degree majoring in Biology and with minors in Physics and English. After moving west, she attended University of Calgary and obtained a second Bachelors of Science degree in Geophysics, while raising her three daughters. Amanda gained her interpretation experience working at Worley Parsons Komex, RPS Boyd PetroSearch, and Oil Sands Imaging. Her current role at CNRL involves varied applications of interpretation techniques using quality well information to characterize reservoirs and investigate rock properties to reduce exploration and production risk. Amanda takes an active role volunteering for the CSEG as part of the Symposium Committee and VIG Committee. She is also a CSEG Mentor and a member of the Human Ventures Institute.



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