William Abriel

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William Abriel
William L. Abriel 2015 headshot.png
Latest company Orinda Geophysical
President year 2016-2017
Membership Life Member
BSc Earth Science
MSc Geophysics and Seismology
BSc university Penn State University
MSc university Penn State University

William (Bill) Abriel received his BS in Earth Science (1975) and his MS in Geophysics (1978) from the Pennsylvania State University. He joined Chevron Oil Company in the fall of 1978 and worked for Chevron in New Orleans, Los Angeles, Perth Australia, and San Ramon California from 1978 to the present. During this time, he has been involved in many interesting projects in operations, seismic research and deployment. Bill was the first Chevron user or developer of the following technologies: 3D subsalt depth migration, 3D prestack depth migration, reservoir estimates from 3D seismic amplitudes, reservoir characterization from seismic data for reservoir simulation, 3D AVO, 3DDMO, dual sensor bottom cable acquisition, turning wave migration, and forming a team of geology, geophysics and reservoir engineering. During this time, Bill has worked on projects in areas including Gulf of Mexico offshore and onshore, North Atlantic (USA, Canada, UK, and Africa), West Australia, Brazil, China, and Saudi Arabia.

Bill is an active member of the SEG, EAEG, and AAPG. He has served on the board of The Leading Edge, and as an associate editor of Geophysics. Bill also serves with the SEG Development Geophysics and Global Affairs committees, and is the current President of the Bay Area Geophysical Society. He has been a co-chair of technical meetings including the first SPE deepwater conference ('97), the Latin American Geophysical Convention (Caracas '98), and the Society of Brazilian Geophysics (Salvador '01).

Bill was SEG President-Elect 2016-2017, was chosesn for the 2008 SEG/EAGE Distinguished Instructor Short Course, is a founding member of the SEG Advanced Modeling Corporation (SEAM), and was the Spring 2004 SEG Distinguished Lecturer.

Biography for SEG Presidential Candidacy 2015

Bill Abriel was with Chevron for 36 years, beginning in New Orleans in 1978, and he retired in May 2015. His technical interests are in application of new technology to active projects, including acquisition, processing, interpretation, and integration. He was the geophysical lead for Chevron projects in many oil and gas basins around the world, concentrating on North America, China, Australia, South America, Russia, and Eurasia.

Abriel has participated in many technical committees for SEG meetings, has published in most industry journals, has been a member of the editorial board of The Leading Edge and an associate editor of Geophysics, and is an assistant editor of Interpretation. He was the SEG Spring Distinguished Lecturer in 2004 and the Distinguished Instructor in 2008.

Abriel is a founding board member of the research company SEG Advanced Modeling Corporation (SEAM) and is chair of its board. He was named a Life Member of SEG in 2007 and was SEG First Vice President in 2012. He also has served on numerous SEG committees, including Development and Production, Membership, Research, Global Affairs, and Distinguished Lecture.

Abriel received a B.S. in geosciences and an M.S. in geophysics, both from Pennsylvania State University, where he was a founding member of the SEG Student Chapter and played four varsity years of lacrosse. He still keeps a hand in by coaching a local high school lacrosse team. He and his wife, Vangie, an attorney who teaches at Santa Clara University School of Law in California, have two children. [1]

Position statement

SEG is an exceptional professional society that helps nurture all applied geophysics. I would like to give you my perspective on the near future of the organization. First, I think we must appreciate that applied geophysics includes exploration for petroleum and minerals as well as environmental and engineering problems and archaeology. Second, vital to the success of SEG is its business model — that of a cooperative of professional volunteers (us) working with resources coordinated from the SEG business offices.Our past has been strongly focused on geophysical theory, tools, and applications. But increasingly, our influence is becoming more integrated with the professions of geology and engineering in complex business decisions. Indications are that we can expect this trend to continue. So my sense is that it will be important to be proactive in some key areas:

• Capital stewardship — SEG will likely face difficult economic challenges created by the oil and gas market changes this year. We will need to be sure that the investments and services of SEG are sustainable and of high value to the membership.

• Member focus — SEG has an important opportunity to increase support and resources for the interpretation community, which comprises the majority of our membership. Initiatives such as the SEAM interpretation challenge, Haliburton’s EVOLVE, and Interpretation journal are all goods steps in that direction.

• Intersociety initiatives — With increasing integration of geophysics with other professions, it must also be a priority to integrate SEG’s interests with those of other professional societies such as AAPG, SPE, SEPM, and EAGE. Much work is under way, and this needs to be both encouraged and improved.

2008 SEG/EAGE Distinguished Instructor Short Course

Reservoir Geophysics: Applications

The objective of the course is to demonstrate how and why geophysics adds value in reservoir management using examples from multiple geological environments (deepwater turbidites, onshore fluvial, near shore deltaics, carbonates). The course is designed to examine and illustrate the dependencies of geology and engineering data on geophysical applications during reservoir management and to expose participants to the variety of geophysical tools used in reservoir work. The participants will become familiar with the application and value of geophysics for users (customers) as well as the inherent risks and uncertainties.

The material is organized into six lectures and two student problems.

  1. The first lecture introduces the life cycle of reservoir management, what economic drivers are important in each cycle and how geophysics adds value. This includes concepts of uncertainty and value of information (VOI) calculation.
  2. This is followed by a lecture on the role of specific geophysical applications in discovery and delineation including the introduction of key well information, geological facies modeling and well ties. A case history is presented showing the difference between 2D and 3D AVO for delineating an oil discovery.
  3. The third section is a student hands-on problem for choosing well locations for delineating a deep water sub-salt discovery. Post-stack and pre-stack 3D seismic data are included. The actual delineation results are shown.
  4. The following section is presented on the role of geophysics in development. This concentrates on the value of seismic attributes (inversion, spectral decomposition, quadrature, …) showing their application to reservoir development projects.
  5. The fifth section covers production and the application of geophysics. This includes seismic response to field production, a work flow for 4D, and reservoir monitoring case histories.
  6. This is followed by a second student problem of a continental shelf project. The problem is presented with production drilling history and an initial 3D survey showing production effects in an oil reservoir. The students are asked to locate infill wells. Results are shown including a second time-lapse 3D survey and actual infill results.
  7. The seventh section is a description of reservoir geophysics in heavy oil environments. Production problems unique to heavy oil are discussed along with geophysical technologies to address them, including time-lapse seismic, cross-well seismic, and cross-well electromagnetics.
  8. The final section covers reservoir geophysics in carbonates. This includes reflection systems in carbonate facies, property estimation of carbonate reservoirs from seismic data. Case histories are presented including 4D reservoir monitoring of CO2 injection.

Additional Resources

The accompanying textbook is available for purchase.[2]

A recording (online streaming version) of this course also is available.[3]

SEG Life Membership 2007

William L. Abriel was awarded Life Membership in 2007 for a long and distinguished record of contributions to the Society in both the technical and service arenas.

Biography Citation for SEG Life Membership

Contributed by Alistair Brown

Bill Abriel is receiving Life Membership for his longstanding geophysical interests, achievements, advancements, and professional service. Bill started his geophysical career at Penn State University where he graduated twice, once with a B.S. in geosciences and once with an M.S. in geophysics. He also received four varsity letters in lacrosse.

Bill started working for Chevron in the U. S. Gulf Coast Division in New Orleans in 1978 and has continued with Chevron in various offices for the past 29 years. His technical interest has been in the application of new technology to live projects, and this has allowed him to be at the leading edge of acquisition, processing, interpretation, and also the integration of geophysics into the oil and gas business.

Bill has maintained a steady stream of publications and presentations explaining and advancing geophysical technology. I had the privilege of working with Bill on the early development of 3D interpretation techniques, and we were both very enthusiastic about the new level of geologic detail that can be extracted from 3D data. Bill and Roger Wright, Chevron's first development geophysics manager, built a team of geophysicists that pushed 3D seismic data to the forefront of their company business. They managed the design, acquisition, processing, workstation interpretation, and geological analysis of the data for field delineation and development the Gulf of Mexico by significantly reducing dry holes and revealing new prospects.

Bill has also been involved in geophysical research, specifically the first Chevron applications of 3D DMO, 3D TI migration, 3D turning-wave migration, and 3D AVO. Bill was then the project technical lead for opening up the seismic subsalt play with applications of 3D prestack depth migration. He presented results at SEG's 1999 Annual Meeting in which he showed the technique, application, and drilling success. Outside of the Gulf of Mexico, Bill has worked as the geophysical lead for Chevron projects in North America, China, Australia, South America, and Russia.

Bill started his professional society involvement as one of the founding members of the SEG student section at Penn State. Over the years, he has participated in many SEG meetings on a national, international, research, and multidisciplinary scale. He has continued to publish in most of the industry journals, and has served on the Editorial Board of The Leading Edge and as an associate editor of Geophysics.

He has also participated in numerous committees including the development and production, membership, research, global affairs, and distinguished lecture committees. I have always found Bill's technical opinions to be balanced, practical, and helpful.

Bill was the spring Distinguished Lecturer (DL) in 2004, and sought to extend the presentation internationally to help SEG with its global expansion. Now, in his position as the DL chairman, Bill is charged with arranging regional lectures on each continent. And Bill is the SEG/EAGE Distinguished Instructor for 2008 with the topic of reservoir geophysics.

Bill is most excited about the new SEG Advanced Modeling (SEAM) initiative. SEAM is designed to continuously identify the industry's most interesting seismic problems in acquisition, processing, and interpretation, build and acquire numerical models, and then get the data into the public domain for common use. As one of the initiators of the program, and current member of the Board of Directors of the SEG Advanced Modeling Corporation, he has been thrilled to see the vision of this important program come to life.

It's not all geophysics in Bill's life. His wife Vangie is a talented attorney who teaches at Santa Clara University School of Law. He also takes pride in parenting his three children, and even gives a hand in coaching lacrosse.

Spring 2004 SEG Distinguished Lecturer

Earth Model Complexity and Risk Description in Resource Exploration and Development

During the past 10 years, seismic imaging and analysis has expanded its role from structural exploration to reservoir description and property analysis. As experiences have developed, the description of the earth required to image and analyze the reservoirs has in many cases required significantly more complexity than anticipated. It is necessary to understand the range of earth complexity of the overburden to determine the accuracy of the seismic imaging, and the complexity of reservoir rocks to correctly risk quality and connectivity of flow compartments in oil and gas fields.

Seismic technology is a complex business. Historically, imaging and analysis tools have adopted or required simplifying assumptions in order to complete projects in a timely manner or simplify the descriptive analysis. Many of these assumptions are in widespread use today. Examples of this can be seen in seismic data processing applications that rely on a "flat earth" simplification, or reservoir analysis based solely on "bright spot" amplitude anomalies.

The difficulty facing earth scientists today is to understand, use and describe the right level of earth complexity for reservoir discovery and analysis. Using more complicated tools than necessary destroys project value by spending too much money and/or extending project time lines unnecessarily. However, using a tool that is too simple for a complex earth leads to a false sense of certainty and a commonly incorrect prediction (often wrong but never in doubt!).

In this talk, I'll review case histories of structural imaging, stratigraphic imaging, velocity complexity, and prediction of reservoir, pore pressure, and fluid flow from a mixture of geological environments around the world. I'll attempt to show the significance of earth complexity in the prediction analyses and the tools required handling it. Finally, I'll cover an overview of connecting the earth complexity to resource and risk prediction in resource exploration and development.


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