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Mathematically Derived Prospects: Abstract
The gas and oil search is considered a mathematical problem. The branch of mathematics best suited to the hydrocarbons hunt deals with probability theory and statical analysis. As holes are drilled at random and information is collected from them, it is found that some data may occur within a certain range of probabilities, that is, the process occurs stochastically. By turning to certain probability formulas as found in statistical physics and information theory, the data can be used to configure density patterns or contour maps to obtain ideas as to what percentages of success a series of holes will be expected to have. In some areas, less sophisticated methods can be used effectively in evolving patterns compiled from fixed and random data.
Accurate definition of a discovery or development well can be difficult. When a well is predicted to find hydrocarbons several miles from production it is normally considered as a discovery. But in an area that is geologically and engineering-wise in varying stages of statistical equilibrium, the well might be considered as a verification of prior knowledge and actually a development well. The obvious utility of this information is for an operator to acquire diversified lease blocks before acreage prices soar and then to optimize a drilling program to verify or gain the most information.
In any statistical argument it is not easy for a single point to be proven. But if evidence in percentages shows an overwhelming regularity when dealing from original positions of uncertainty, then many successes should settle the argument as a practical matter.
The author quotes from previous reports, some of them unpublished, to emphasize the "before and after" (case history) approach.
Acknowledgments and Associated Footnotes
1 Consultant, Oklahoma City
Copyright © 2006 by the Tulsa Geological Society