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OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY SOLUTIONS

Managing Risk & Productivity in the Permian Basin

Introducing the first InSAR monitoring and analytics subscription service designed specifically for managing risk for oil and gas operations in the Permian Basin.

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SkyGeo Permian Basin Subscription Services

Permian Basin-Wide
Subscription Service

Need to characterize and understand subsurface issues with wide-area implications like induced seismicity? We now re-process InSAR over the whole Permian Basin monthly.

Local Permian Basin
Subscription Service

Do you have direct responsibility for the safety of operations and need to understand the ground stability local to your assets? We process locally on-demand as frequent as your oilfield operations need it.

‘Insights’
Subscription Service

Translating a tsunami of InSAR data correctly to subsurface signal by people with industry knowledge and experience. It is always easy to identify problems after they occur but forecasting is hard.

We now provide operational InSAR mapping with high revisit frequency to help operators quantify the net migration of fluids in the subsurface. It is one of the few tools that can quantify long term compound effects of operations at various scales: at the scale of the whole Permian Basin and locally for individual wells, and everything in between. The surface InSAR data can tell us a lot about the sub-surface – but in an indirect way. At SkyGeo, we help the operators translate this InSAR data into operational reservoir monitoring.

Fluid Migration in the Subsurface 

It is commonly accepted that the increasing seismic activity in the Permian is induced by oilfield activity, notably with increasing salt water disposal. Pore pressure is going up as a result of different factors acting together in the busy subsurface. But exactly how and where this causes seismicity is not fully clear yet.

The migration of fluid in the subsurface will leave a footprint on the surface, which is subtle or invisible to the naked eye, but can be detected in InSAR. Correlation between injection volumes, surface heave and seismic events is indirect at best. This makes modeling and forecasting still difficult.

In the meantime, the regulator has been limiting injection in the Seismic Response Areas (SRAs) so the stakes are high to get the pore pressure variations better under control. Careful characterization, dynamic mapping and modeling are now an essential part of industry’s collaborative efforts to understand the dynamics.

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Nodding donkey oil rigs

Monitoring for Oilfield Operations

There are several types of monitoring for these operations problems now. There is local wellbore data – and volumetric production and injection data – the latter available basin-wide. Wide area seismic monitoring with TexNet is a lagging indicator for problems; microseismic over these very large areas. Into this mix we now bring operational InSAR with high revisit frequency. 

We have shown the use of InSAR as an innovative 4D-like technique by inversion of the surface results elsewhere, for example cases involving induced seismic issues and for conventional and unconventional production monitoring

For the Delaware Basin, several academic studies have shown basin-wide D-InSAR data; typically, the picture that emerges is distributed subsidence and heave which has been accelerating over the last 8 years; and there is a link with regional faulting. For the Midland Basin, the surface data are not available yet. 

With the advent of high-performance compute and with the availability of worldwide satellite SAR imagery, we are now able to produce high quality InSAR results continuously in near real-time. 

Our earlier experience with InSAR for induced seismicity, for example in the giant gasfield of Groningen showed that the cause and effect relationship is highly complex and that the earlier operators can get access to data, the faster they can build insight and the better they can respond.

Wide area InSAR processing service 

We now routinely do InSAR processing over the whole Permian Basin and we offer access to these wide area data as a subscription service. This covers the Delaware Basin, the Midland Basin and the Central Basin Platform.

The InSAR data shows that the surface of the Basin is in continuous up and down motion at the millimeter scale and in many parts of the area. This is an essential additional tool for building up knowledge of slow subsurface migration patterns. You can subscribe to these surface data as we make them available every month.

Computing these surface motions is just the first step. We assess the wide area InSAR subsidence and heave data for significant signal relating to the sub-surface. This does involve spatial and/or temporal smoothing.

With InSAR, we can dissect the complex patterns associated with the evolution seismic events so we can do history matching and build up insights in support of forecasting.

Translating InSAR Locally: Surface Signal to Subsurface Model

The effects at the surface as a result of net fluid withdrawal and injection for individual producing wells typically manifest locally. By doing these forensics at scale, we can support careful evaluation of injection strategies in near real time.

So how do we set up a local InSAR monitoring strategy for individual wells or clusters of injection wells when the subsurface is so busy – and when the surface is moving everywhere all the time? At the surface, we see the compound effect of production and injection in a dozen stacked reservoirs and SWD both above and below them.

We do local InSAR time series processing that is different from the wide area processing, in terms of context ingestion and in terms of resolution in time and space.

The important and difficult step now is finding relevant signal in this very large area where the surface is in continuous motion on the millimeter scale. There is a lot of geomechanically irrelevant signal in the compound InSAR surface motion signal – in other words geomechanical noise. We need to remove this noise to see the part of the motion that is driven by the deeper subsurface.

After optimized local processing, we do careful verification and validation using available external data. Then we assess patterns in context of what is known locally: lithology, structure, wellbore placement, injection and production balance over time, etc. The next step is visualization of the uplift and subsidence patterns, and assessing if they are atypical given the conditions.

This needs to be assessed separately from the wide area data or you will miss them. For these local events, the InSAR processing needs to be done separately and validated specifically. Also, the signal likely contains too much noise. It needs to be evaluated separately for it to be used effectively.

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The Key to a Successful InSAR Monitoring Strategy.

So how do we set up an InSAR monitoring strategy for individual injection wells or clusters of injection wells when the sub-surface is so busy? We see the compound effect at the surface of production and injection in a dozen stacked reservoirs and SWD both above and below them?

The important and difficult step now is finding relevant signal in this very large area where the surface is in continuous motion on the millimeter scale. There is a lot of geomechanically irrelevant signal in the surface motion – in other words InSAR noise. We need to remove this noise to truly see the part of the motion that is caused by the deeper sub-surface.

We start with one of the harder jobs: careful verification and validation in context of what is known locally.

The key step is: can we identify and isolate typical patterns uplift and subsidence? The migration of fluids effects in the subsurface will leave a footprint on the surface, which is subtle or invisible to the untrained eye. This needs to be assessed separately from the wide area data or you will miss them.

For these local events, the InSAR processing needs to be done separately and validated specifically. Also, the signal likely contains too much noise. It needs to be evaluated separately for it to be used effectively.

Is InSAR monitoring right for your oilfield operations?

InSAR has changed a lot in recent years. It’s now available faster and at higher resolutions, which is a good thing. But when everything is moving, this tsunami of data brings new challenges. So we help you address these challenges by doing the essential work of mapping the actual surface dynamics.

After verification and validation, we need to filter and scrub the data, and put it in context.  The InSAR service is a readily available diagnostic tool that is complementary to your sub-surface and downhole measurements. In order to make sense of this very large data set, we do a templated discovery of what it means: for example supporting inversion of the surface data for your geomechanical model or history matching with oilfield production and injection data.  

As we progress through this shared discovery, in every case we have worked on, we have added value in terms of area reservoir management. The positive ROI for the operator will continue to grow as we learn how to read the data better.

FAQs on InSAR Monitoring Solutions for the Permian Basin

What is InSAR, and how does it contribute to oilfield operations monitoring?

InSAR is Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar imagery. InSAR is a remote monitoring solution used to detect and estimate surface movement with millimeter precision, providing valuable insights into uplift and subsidence trends.

How does InSAR satellite monitoring benefit operators in the Permian Basin?

InSAR satellite monitoring allows for the early identification of instabilities, enabling improved asset management and risk mitigation strategies. InSAR data typically covers the entire operations site and help address operational risk including sinkholes, drilling issues, production, induced seismicity, EOR and saltwater disposal.

Can InSAR data help predict failures in oilfield operations?

While InSAR data analysis can enhance forecasting capabilities, specialized expertise and contextual site information is necessary to first do the InSAR, and then to convert data into actionable insights for improvements of operations and risk management. Everything at the surface is moving continuously at the millimeter level – a lot of that is noise from a risk management perspective, especially for SWD injections. We help filter the noise to quantify the signal from the deep subsurface.

How frequently do you provide InSAR monitoring updates for oil production and injection operations?

For operational risk assessment for oilfield operations, we typically provide updates every time the InSAR satellite acquires an image over the site. This is typically every 4 to 11 days. Satellite revisit times are expected to decrease in the future. For wide area processing reports, the frequency of assessment can be lower.

Do we need to install corner reflectors or artificial reflectors to support InSAR monitoring for oil production and injection operations in the Permian Basin?

The InSAR data shows the surface motion relative in time with millimeter precision for persistent scatterers.  In the Permian Basin we see very high PS point density, up to 100,000 PS per square mile. We do a full geodetic verification and validation. Adding one artificial corner reflector will not add immediate value in terms of insight about the business problems for individual wells or operators. But it will add to the geodetic reliability of the InSAR data. So it would be useful for the wide area assessment.

How large is the area that can be monitored by InSAR effectively?

The satellite imagery covers the whole Permian Bains (in fact the whole planet) routinely, so we assess the surface motion over the Delaware Basin, the Midland Basin and the Central Plateau. The standard  InSAR product has point densities up to 400,000 points per square mile using standard resolution imagery.