If conventional thinking had its way, Aera’s Abbie Morgan and Johanna Hoyt probably would have never teamed up to author an award-winning paper and presentation that earned international recognition from the Society of Petrophysicists and Well Log Analysts.
Morgan, a petrophysicist, and Hoyt, a geologist, collaborated on a workflow to build a 3-D Geological Model of San Ardo’s Aurignac reservoir that allows Aera to develop a petroleum reservoir that was once considered a challenge to drill.
“The work done by Abbie and Johanna and documented in the paper characterized an oil reservoir that had no future development plans,” said Tracey Carlile, the manager of technology for the San Joaquin Valley asset. “As a result of the work, we have drilled five wells and additional wells are planned. The technical work was critical to the success of the drilling program. This award is a recognition of the outstanding technical work done on this project and an example of the work done each and every day at Aera.”
The partnership led to the creation of the geologic model, then a research paper and finally an electronic poster presentation that has earned accolades from the Society of Petrophysicists and Well Log Analysts (SPWLA), but getting to this point defied conventional thinking.
“Because of the type of work we do, petrophysicists and geologists don’t always collaborate,” said Morgan, who joined Aera six years ago. “We wanted to incorporate petrophysics and geology together in a way that would create a more accurate and valuable geological model.”
Using the paper that she and Hoyt authored, Morgan made a presentation at an SPWLA conference in Oklahoma City that was judged as the best electronic poster presentation by the SPWLA’s Technical Committee. For her efforts, Morgan was recently presented with an award at SPWLA’s international conference in London.
“It is exciting that others found our paper to be interesting and useful to discuss,” said Hoyt, who has worked at Aera since 2012. “I’ve fielded many emailed questions after Abbie travelled to present the paper at SPWLA meetings from individuals who are interested in trying to apply our approach to their own projects.”
The genesis of the collaboration between Morgan and Hoyt actually began when Hoyt was trying to solve a longstanding issue with the Aurignac reservoir at San Ardo.
“The concept for the Aurignac horizontal wells was one that had been with the San Ardo reservoir team for many years, but until I joined Aera we didn’t have a strong focus on the project,” said Hoyt. “This is actually the first reservoir characterization model I ever made.”
However, the challenge for Hoyt came when it was determined she needed a 3-D model to calculate the oil volumes in the reservoir, which would be critical in obtaining approval for drilling, and that’s where Morgan came into the story.
“She was able to help me calculate the log curves that would go into the final reservoir characterization model,” said Hoyt, adding that this led to the two writing their paper, “Petrophysics and Geology intertwined: A case study of an integrated modeling workflow.”
Traditionally, according to Hoyt and Morgan, this work may have been done exclusively by a geologist or a petrophysicist, but this collaborative work helped distinguish the effort, and set the tone for the paper that was produced from the work.
“We wrote the abstract and conclusion together,” Hoyt said. “Then we went through several rounds of revisions where each of us would revise the paper, and then hand it off to the other. I think this helped build a unified voice for the paper although there were two individuals who wrote sections of it.”
The model proved the viability of the Aurignac’s horizontal well development, along with future development in San Ardo – a key economic driver in southern Monterey County. The continued development in San Ardo will help California import less oil from foreign sources, while contributing to the region economically through tax revenues. Aera is among the top 10 property taxpayers in Monterey County.
“My learning curve was steep when I entered the oil industry, especially since I knew nothing about the industry to begin with,” Morgan said. “It was a completely new application for me of some of the physics I learned in school, which has been really interesting and exciting.”
In addition to the award, Morgan has been invited to be a SPWLA Distinguished Speaker, which has led to speaking engagements in Boston and Austin, Texas. Hoyt and Morgan also presented to the Bakersfield chapter of the SPWLA.
“It’s definitely been one of the highlights (of her career),” Morgan said. “Probably the highlight, especially being able to be part of the Distinguished Speaker program.”