The winner is: A cutting-edge cutting project

The winner is: A cutting-edge cutting project

The Released Wells initiative wins the Exploration Innovation Prize 2021.

Norway is probably the first country in the world where new value is added to data not many people think about very often: cuttings.

Under the umbrella of the Released Wells Initiative, coordinated by Malgorzata Kusak from the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association, around 700.000 samples are being systematically photographed and analysed using XRF. With a subset also undergoing QEMSCAN and Total Organic Carbon analysis, the resulting database is unrivalled and has got many different purposes.

For that reason, the jury and the participants of the NCS Exploration Conference 2021 identified the Released Wells Initiative as the winner of this years’ Exploration Innovation Prize. The other candidates were Tom Dreyer, the GOAL and R&T ST Teams from Equinor for their work on the Greater Fram area and the Utsira West OBN by Axxis Geo Solutions and Aker BP.

Yesterday, three talks during the first day of the NCS Exploration Conference already demonstrated how various companies are using the data resulting from the analysis of more than 1600 NCS exploration and appraisal wells.

Turid Øygard (Norsk Olje og Gass), Halvor Jahre, Mike Snape (Rockwash Geodata), Malgorzata Kusak (Norsk Olje og Gass), Jan Meltveit (Stratum Reservoir), Ragnar Aune Melhus (Stratum Reservoir), Stefano Pruno (Stratum Reservoir), Tommy Hansen (Norsk Olje og Gass).

Supporting APA Round Application and mineralogy prediction

Lars Hübert from Lime Petroleum demonstrated how the company used the data to support their case for a 2020 APA application, whilst Odd Kolbjørnsen from Lundin Energy illustrated how the company is developing a workflow to use the subset of mineralogical data to train a model with the aim to accurately predict mineralogy in other wells where only images and XRF data are available for.

The third talk, delivered by Brit Thyberg from Pandion Energy, highlighted first of all how the data – once visualised – can generate many discussions and provide insights as we already discussed in this article a while ago. However, she now also illustrated that the data should always be checked through integration with other information about the well.

Always look at all the data!

As an example of this, Brit showed a well where a distinct colour change could be seen in the Lower Jurassic Amundsen Formation. With geologists expecting a sequence boundary around the same depth, one could quickly draw that the colour change actually represents a phase of exposure and associated mineralogical change or change in provenance.

However, when plotting the casing shoes alongside the borehole, it became evident that oil-based mud is the ultimate cause of the colour change, as well as the associated geochemical signatures. A clear example of the fact that only an integrated approach to data analysis will result in credible interpretations.

Stratigraphic analysis

During a separate conversation we had with Brit about the project, she also showed how the data can be used to further subdivide formations and groups that have so far been lumped into long monotonous intervals, either because there has never been too much of an interest or there was nothing else to justify further subdividing them. So, once the dataset will be released publicly in a few years time, there will no doubt be an interest from the stratigraphic community as well.

All in all, the Released Wells Initiative is a deserved winner of the Exploration Innovation Prize and is surely a project to keep a close eye on in the years to come.

Congratulations to the winners!