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Play-Based Exploration: Mapping, Volumetric & Risk Analysis

Play-Based Exploration reflects a fundamental shift in exploration focus, wherein prospects are not the basic unit of exploration, but plays are. Some companies stop at ‘traffic light maps’, other companies adopting such techniques make maps that apportion probability into shared/play-specific and local/prospect-specific probability. This course emphasizes the latter method and teaches all concepts needed to make such maps in a consistent way.

This exercise-rich course will touch on all aspects of PBE. Group mapping exercises from an actual exploration play reflecting state of knowledge at two periods of time (circa 1980 versus present day) show how the actual results compare to their predictions.

The emphasis in this course is upon conventional plays, with a brief portion of the course dedicated to application of these techniques to unconventional/continuous plays.

The course is designed as a series of lectures, each followed by a practical mapping or data analysis exercise.

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Course Description (PDF)

Course Outline

  1. Introduction
    1. Play-based exploration – defined
    2. Role in E&P Business process
    3. Global patterns of discovery – probability of success and discovery size through time
  2. Basic statistics and risk analysis concepts
    1. A concise presentation of all key concepts needed for chance/volume assessment
  3. Petroleum Systems and Plays
    1. Global basin characteristics; life cycle of a basin; megasequence concept
    2. Petroleum System Defined; key elements and processes
    3. Generation of play maps and timing worksheets
    4. EXERCISE and Debrief: Petroleum Systems
  4. Defining Plays, Vertically and Laterally
    1. Critical data needs
    2. Generating a play-specific well database
    3. Overlaying element maps to generate play maps
    4. EXERCISE and Debrief: Training dataset familiarization, defining overall play outline
  5. Dividing Plays into Subplays
    1. Play segments versus common risk segments – reasons for subplays
    2. Gross depositional environment, tectonic setting
    3. Concept of common risk segment maps, and segment families
    4. Impact of uncertainty/confidence upon maps
    5. “Geologic” vs. “strategic” play delineation with map examples
    6. EXERCISE and Debrief: Initial play segmentation, assign ‘traffic light’ probability
  6. Treatment of chance – plays vs. prospects
    1. Review of Pg factors
    2. Commonalities – prospect to play assessment of chance
    3. Apportioning chance factors to shared/local elements, demonstrated with map examples
    4. Reality checks
    5. Impact of apportioning chance into shared/local chance upon chance of venture success
    6. EXERCISE and Debrief: Assigning Play Chance Factors to segmented play map
  7. Data Issues
    1. Creating a Key Well Test Dataset
    2. Key Well Annotation
    3. EXERCISE and Debrief: Assigning Prospect-specific Chance Factors to segments
  8. Field size data – pitfalls for predicting the future
    1. Significance of using appropriate future field size – impact upon the math
    2. Truncation of field size data due to under-sampling, dangers of small sample size
    3. Impact of (and accommodating) discovery process to predict the future
    4. Plotting techniques
    5. Using appropriate analogs – and what to do in rank wildcat plays
    6. EXERCISE and Debrief: Analyze field size dataset from play area, early exploration period    and predict future field size characteristics
  9. Calculating Undiscovered (Yet to Find) Volumes
    1. Different methods
    2. Appropriate method to use based upon state of knowledge
    3. Prospect/lead density
    4. Pitfalls and reality checks
    5. EXERCISE and Debrief: Calculate undrilled leads, appropriate future field size distribution, and undiscovered potential for each identified segment, compare predictions to results. Award prizes for best group performance
  10. Risk analysis for plays vs. prospects – Strategic Play Analysis
    1. Expected value concept, significance, and contrasted (prospect to play)
    2. Inputs for play risk analysis, contrasted to prospect risk analysis
    3. Detailed review of each of the input parameters used in strategic play analysis, including pitfalls and reality checks
    4. The math – plugging the inputs into the calculation of key play metrics of profitability and efficiency
  11. Play Based Exploration for unconventional plays
    1. Characteristics of unconventional resource plays
    2. Similarities and differences in chance from conventional plays
    3. Field size distributions versus EUR/well distributions
    4. Key inputs and maps, differences in map process
    5. Play fairway definition: differences from conventional plays
  12. Play ranking techniques – choosing the best plays for your company
    1. Review of potential ranking criteria – geologic, strategic, geopolitical
    2. Review of calculated outputs from strategic play assessment methodology
    3. Building and interpreting ‘business ranking models’
  13. Wrap Up / Group Discussion