IIT Madras researchers develop data analytics approach to detect petroleum underground


By combining different statistical approaches, a team of researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) has successfully detected a hydrocarbon saturated zone in the sandstone-based reservoir at 2.3 km underground in the Tipam formation of the Upper Assam basin.

The method provided critical information about the rock type and hydrocarbon saturation zones located 2.3 km underground, says a release.

The researchers used the newly developed method to analyse data obtained from seismic surveys and well logs from the North Assam region known for its petroleum reserve.

Characterising underground rock structures is a challenging task.

Seismic survey methods and well log data are used to understand the structure underneath the earth’s surface. In a seismic survey, acoustic vibrations are sent through the ground.

As the waves hit various rock layers, they are reflected with different characteristics. The reflected waves are recorded and the underground rock structure is imaged using the reflection data. The well logs contain details of various layers of the earth seen when digging an oil well, the release said.

The research was led by Rajesh R Nair, Faculty, Petroleum Engineering programme, Department of Ocean Engineering, IIT Madras. The findings were published in the journal NATURE Scientific Reports.

Since the discovery of the Digboi oilfield in Upper Assam more than 100 years ago, the Assam-Arakan has come to be characterised as a ‘category-I’ basin to denote that it has significant amounts of hydrocarbon reserves.

Petroleum is found in the pore space of hydrocarbon-bearing underground rock formations. The identification of petroleum reservoirs in the oil-rich basins of Assam requires a survey of the rock structures and the detection of hydrocarbon saturation zones in them.

Nair said such technologies will boost the oil and gas business enormously. For example, on a thumb rule, a 0.07 incremental change in successful new technology will boost the oil and gas business by about 10 per cent.

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