Lucy MacGregor is a leading researcher in multi-physics analysis with particular expertise in the integration of electromagnetic methods into reservoir characterization workflows. She served as SEG Honorary Lecturer in Europe in 2011 and as Distinguished Lecturer in 2021.
Lucy has a PhD from the University of Cambridge for research in the field of controlled-source electromagnetic (CSEM) methods and over 25 years of experience in marine EM surveying and its application to the detection and characterization of fluids in the earth. Following her PhD, she was a Green Scholar at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography working on marine electromagnetic methods, before returning to Cambridge as a Leverhulme Trust/Downing College research fellow.
In 2000 she moved to the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton as a NERC research fellow to continue her work, and she took part in the first survey targeting CSEM at hydrocarbon reservoirs. In 2002, Lucy co-founded OHM and joined the company as CTO. She remained with the company, through its merger with Rock Solid Images, until December 2018, leading the company’s technical group which specialized in rock physics driven quantitative reservoir characterization and multi-physics analysis. Lucy co-founded Edinburgh Geoscience Advisors in 2019.
2021 1Q/2Q SEG Distinguished Lecturer
Multi-physics analysis: Extracting the most from diverse datasets
Understanding the sub-surface is important for many reasons, including resource management and hazard detection. Geophysicists can deploy a range of tools to probe the earth, measuring properties from velocity and density to resistivity and magnetization. However, often these diverse datasets are analyzed in isolation, or only combined in a qualitative, or semi-quantitative way. The goal of a multi-physics analysis approach is to quantitatively combine diverse datasets, utilizing the strengths in some to compensate for weaknesses in another, thereby improving the robustness with which sub-surface structure and properties can be constrained.
Recent advances in the multi-physics analysis have been focused on two main classes of challenge. The first concerns the determination of structure: seismic, whilst providing high-resolution images of structure and stratigraphy, in many situations, can struggle in areas of complex geology, such as around salt bodies, or beneath highly heterogeneous basalt layers. In this case, incorporating electromagnetic or gravity data, either in cooperative or joint inversion schemes, has proven extremely valuable in improving the image that is obtained.
In the second class of challenge, the goal is to understand sub-surface properties. Quantitative seismic reservoir characterization workflows can struggle to resolve fluid saturations, which are key to understanding prospectivity. Rock physics-driven multi-physics workflows incorporating electromagnetic data can resolve ambiguities inherent in a seismic-only analysis.
This presentation will provide an overview of multi-physics approaches and applications, illustrated using case studies.
A recording of the lecture is available.
2011 SEG Honorary Lecturer, Europe
Integrating well log, seismic, and CSEM data for reservoir characterization
Well logs provide a high-resolution measurement of the properties of a reservoir and the surrounding strata; however, properties can only be determined in a small area local to the well. Often measurements of reservoir properties across the extent of a field are desirable for reservoir management or production optimization. Remote geophysical measurements are therefore required. Seismic data are most commonly used for this purpose; however, in recent years CSEM methods, which measure the resistivity structure of the seafloor, have also been widely applied.
CSEM use a high-powered source to transmit low-frequency signals through the Earth to an array of receivers. By interpreting the received signals using forward modeling and inversion approaches, the resistivity structure of the seafloor can be determined. Resistivity well logs often show that commercial hydrocarbon deposits may be many times more resistive than surrounding lithologies. In principle, such variations should be readily detected using CSEM tools. In contrast, seismic data are sensitive to boundaries between lithologic units but are often less sensitive to fluid changes within these units. Given high-quality seismic and well data and sophisticated seismic inversion and rock physics tools, we can sometimes relate seismic changes to saturation effects. Nevertheless, the change in resistivity caused by variations in saturation should be much easier to detect.
However, despite the sensitivity of resistivity data for determination of saturation, there are two inherent challenges to interpreting CSEM data. First, the structural resolution of CSEM data is poor. Second, the cause of resistivity anomalies (particularly high-resistivity features) cannot be uniquely linked to the presence of hydrocarbons in the subsurface when taken in isolation. In many situations, these are equally likely to be caused by other high-resistivity material (for example, tight carbonates, salt, or volcanics). These limitations can be mitigated using an integrated approach to geophysical interpretation. Seismic information can outline the reservoir structure (but potentially not its content or extent), and we have independent constraints on the surrounding strata within which it is embedded. This is therefore a constrained interpretation problem and one that the CSEM data are in a much better position to answer.