To fully take advantage of the breakthroughs with horizontal drilling technology, one needs to be able to do what is often referred to as “Technical Geosteering.” Welcome to an interview with Mike Stoner, who has developed software and techniques for “technical geosteering.”  Stoner will be teaching a course, Geosteering Unleashed: The Basics to High-Tech Integrated Workflows at the AAPG Fall Education Conference, October 14-15, Houston (Norris Conference Center / CityCentre).

1.  What is your involvement in the oil industry? How did you get started? What do you do now?

We supply to operators and to service companies horizontal drilling software that uniquely targets directional AND geology. After earning BSc/PhD degrees in Petroleum Engineering from CSM in the mid-1990s, I patented directional steering control-system technology. Today however, our primary contribution to industry is enabling a software suite that helps people easily plan and drill and analyze horizontal wellbores.

Mike Stoner, Ph.D.

Mike Stoner, Ph.D.

2.  You’re very respected for your work in geosteering. What should geologists know about new developments in geosteering?

I think most will agree “Geosteering 1.0″-graphing measured data and”free-handing” a payzone layer versus wellbore in a spreadsheet or drafting software-is inadequate. A superior method-sometimes termed “technical geosteering” due to its quantitative nature-is mainstream in industry and it’s not taught in college because essentially it’s a craft. Because today roughly 60% of U.S. drilling TDs horizontal, industry geologists should have a firm grasp of what technical geosteering is and how it enhances wellbore stratigraphic-location determination.

3.  How can geologists make better decisions in geosteering?

There is no substitute to ACCURACY gleaned from bringing a strong working knowledge of the local geology to the heart of the interpretation process. When geologists understand the “tool” that is technical geosteering, and how the geology is manifested through this type of lens, better decisions evolve.

Horizontal drilling leads to discovery about the resource. Preconceptions and technical misunderstandings can inhibit identifying geologic truth, and sometimes over portions of wellbore such truth can’t be known but certain scenarios are more likely than others. Horizontal drilling provides repeated observations on a unique scale between core and vertical well, and because of extent also at a larger structural scale that is evidently sub-seismic. There are multiple attributes of a reservoir that can only begin to become known through horizontal drilling and subsequent production/injection study, and geosteering is a key component.

4.  What makes you excited about the industry right now?

Modern horizontal drilling and completion technologies AND “unconventional plays” are game-changers. There are “z-layers” in every vertical-well oil or gas field that require assessment for application. All implications here are far-reaching and positive to our industry, to our nation, and to mankind. “Overnight” the pie got much bigger and it’s win-win-win, and it’s very rewarding to be a contributor.

5.  What area do you think most geologists tend to overlook in their training and professional development?

Being an engineer/programmer, I feel unqualified to answer the question. I can, however, show a geologist the essentials of technical geosteering since it’s just basic geometry and geologic common-sense, but the geologist can only become a geosteering expert through their own development and experience and thought. Obviously not everyone needs to become an analyst, but today the majority need to understand geosteering fundamentals because it’s relevant.

6.  Where do you see technology having another breakthrough in the next 5 or
6 years?

Ha ha! Sorry, but results from our crystal ball are confidential and anyway, it only shows up to 6 months out! I will add though…6 years ago less than six client companies had licensed our geosteering software called SES. Today, SES is industry leading software and we’re working on its next release to make it ever better. I hope we can make this last statement 6 years from now.

Last 5 posts by Susan Nash

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