Thursday, August 16, 2012

Disc 22 Buenos Aires (10 August)

Buenos Aires is a wonderful place and the people are friendly beyond measure.  Special thanks need to go out to Gutavo Carstens who picked me up at the airport and coordinated a watch party for the Olympic basketball game between USA and Argentina.  Another big shout-out to the very kind Patricio (Patrick) Marshall who introduced me to the city, marked many interesting things on a city map, and urged me to go to the street market held each Sunday near San Telmo.  

The DISC was well-attenend and held in the stunning YPF office tower overlooking the city.  Thanks to all!

The Buenos Aires DISC 2012 class.  Bearded guys in the back: Gustavo (center) and Patrick (right)

About town

 If you come to Buenos Aires, and I hope you will, there is much to see and do. But I want to tell you about just one. It is a plea, a screaming rant of recommendation. It is the best meal I have ever had, and that is saying something. My wife makes meals 4 times a week that are better than anything most men ever taste. I've dined all over Spain, in Italy, France, and dozens of other countries. In short, I have had a lot of great meals. But the Buenos Aires restaurant Dora stands alone.

 I'm not a food critic, but I know what one should say about Dora. Not all of Buenos Aires is nice, not all of it safe. But step into Dora and feel a waft of the old times, where waiters watch patrons closely (but not obsessively) to anticipate what is needed next; real waiters who do it for a living and have for generations. No pretension, no haughty indifference, no demeaning glances. A pride in trade and work that the modern world has long forgotten. If this were all, there would be other contenders. But then comes the food. For starters I had grilled langostinos (thin rock lobsters) halved in a beautiful sauce. Then came the Cazuela Dora, a house special seafood stew with saffron rice on the side. It was a symphony, not the drippy rehash kind of symphony nodding to the real thing, or a quirky modern symphony that is little more than a jumble of noise aimed at glorifying the sad creatures who write and direct it. No this was an old school, honest symphony of taste. A fragment, a remnant of the guilded age when a symphony was a symphony and if you wrote one you had damn well better get it right or be out of a job. The food spilled over an ample plate, the wine, of course, was malbec, rich and full-bodied and lots of it. I ate until I could eat no more, then ate more. The waiter tried to clear the table a couple of times, but I would have nothing to do with it. I did not want the meal to end. Finally, reluctantly, regretfully, with remorse I let it go.

 I know what the food critic should say about Dora, but this is a tainted age of tiny multicolor pyramids parading as food on vast plates with artistic drizzles of sauce, a time when the chef is a reality TV star  and a lacky runs the kitchen. Yep, I know what the critic should say, but have no faith it will ever be said. Go to Buenos Aires, go to Dora, eat, live.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

DISC 21 Rio de Janeiro (8 August)

Special thanks to Mario Costa (Petrobras) for sharing a beer or three on my birthday, much appreciated.  Mario and I met in Houston when he was in town for a UH summer training program.  I taught one of the classes and, as is my habit, after the class was complete we had a party.  It was at Gingerman and he remembered it well.  Interesting how good deeds can come back around to you.  Thanks Mario!

Rio de Janeiro class photo, a great group!  Mario is front left.

About town

With a free day on 7 August I decided to head up to Batata de Açúcar (in English Sugarloaf Mountain). What a place! First you taxi to the cable car station, it is never a problem flagging down a courteous and fast-driving Brazilian taxi (unlike Beijing where they seem to royally ignore unscheduled fares).  The cable car goes first to an intermediate peak with lots of fabulous views, then a second cable car goes all the way up.  It is a 360 view of the finest natural harbor I have ever seen (that includes Barcelona, Aukland and San Francisco).  Hours can be spent walking the paved trails and peeking out of lush vegetation to yet another great view.

After that it was a fine meal of fried Talapia and mashed potatoes with shrimp sauce.  A nice walk along Copacabana beach settled the meal, then I headed to Ave Passos where I heard a rumor there were old book shops.  I found a few on the other side of an enormous rabbit warren of a street market.  Of course, english books are rare in Brazil but I managed to find a nice book about Pompeii.

Sugarloaf mountain as seen from the lower cable car stop.

Yours truly with Copacabana beach far below.

Chilling with an espresso overlooking Rio.  Tough life.

 Yep, those are my feet 1300 ft above the harbor.  It was a tad steep.

A very literate cat at a Rio old book store.  Should be named Socrates...

Think I may have found a Brazilian supplier for my new get-rich-quick scheme...

Friday, August 3, 2012

Mississippian, horizontal oil, and Spice

You may not be aware of it, but there is small revolution brewing. The big shale gas companies (Chesapeake, Devon, etc.) have been so successful at finding reserves that natural gas (a regional commodity) is now priced in the U.S. below $3/MCF. Meanwhile, the oil price (a global commodity) has been steady above $85/bbl. As a result, companies are understandably looking to use the horizontal drilling expertise developed in shale plays to shift reserves portfolio from gas to oil.

For example Sandridge Energy put out this map:

Figure 1. Horizontal oil discoveries reported by Sandridge Energy (July 2012, Investor Presentation).

Of interest here is the Mississippian (Miss) discovery on the Oklahoma-Kansas border. The Miss in this part of the country is a thick carbonate unit topped by a regional unconformity and overlain by Pennsylvanian (Penn) age clastic sediments (sandstone and shale). The Miss production can come from secondary porosity near the unconformity, or deeper zones in the Miss related to chert development and/or fracture trends. Either way, a good image of the upper Miss is critical to this exploration play, especially since horizontal well technology is being used.

Farther north in Kansas is our Dickman project area. We have been working for several years imaging and characterizing the Penn and Miss section this site. This will be of interest to the industry as the horizontal oil revolution accelerates in the next few years.

As one example, consider a map of the Dickman project (Figure 2) showing well control and an arbitrary seismic line (red).

Figure 2. Dickman project base map showing well control and arbitrary 2D line (red) extracted from the 3D survey.

The amplitude data along this line (Figure 3) shows two wells and the Miss pick in each. One could map the approximate unconformity surface with this data, but there is little enlightenment as to the detailed structure and stratigraphy at this critical boundary.

Figure 3. Vertical seismic line (in depth) along the red line in Figure 2 (blue box is visible section shown here).

Now have a look at Spice attribute data along this same line (Figure 4). This was computed using my research code. The unconformity surface is now starkly visible, along with with clear, crisp detail on geological features deeper into the Miss. Using the Spice data, a precise Miss map can be constructed along with discontinuity maps in the upper Miss. These may represent small faults, fracture trends, or karst features. In any case, they would be of interest in planning expensive horizontal wells.

Figure 4. Spice attribute data (in depth) coincident with the amplitude data in Fig 3. Note rich detail of Miss/Penn unconformity surface and related structure/stratigraphy.

Spice has many parameters that can be tuned for specific purposes.  Here is another example tuned for maximum time resolution.  This gives a kind of atomic decomposition of the subsurface intro primitive layer elements that indicate stratigraphic relationships.  The unconformity at 1.445 s (on the left side) is very difficult to see on the seismic data, but clear and detailed on Spice.  This has obvious application to horizontal well planning.

Figure 5. Seismic line from 3D data set and corresponding Spice attribute section. Note time lines are only 10ms apart in this detail view.

With my move to the University of Arkansas, I am interested in working with industry partners to apply and further develop this technology. If you would like to get a better view of your Mississippian horizontal drilling target, contact me at