Scattering and intrinsic attenuation as a potential tool for studying of a fractured reservoir

F. Bouchaala, M. Y. Ali, J. Matsushima, Y. Bouzidi, E. M.Takam Takougang, Aala A.I. Mohamed, Akmal A. Sultan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Intrinsic attenuation is mainly caused by the frictional movement induced by seismic waves during their passage between fluids contained in subsurface pores and solid grains. In contrast, scattering attenuation is due to small reflections caused by subsurface heterogeneities. Since porosity and fractures are important sources of heterogeneity and fluids, scattering and intrinsic attenuation are suitable seismic attributes for investigating porous and fractured subsurface zones, such as oil and gas reservoirs. In the present study, we accurately estimated scattering and intrinsic attenuation from zero-offset vertical seismic profiling (VSP) and sonic data acquired from three wells that cross a reservoir zone of an oilfield located in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. In addition, we properly separated scattering and intrinsic attenuation. The attenuation profiles show high variation with depth. Furthermore, the scattering is frequency dependent and has a significant contribution to the total attenuation. This is due to the high heterogeneous property of carbonate rocks, which dominate the lithology of the reservoir zone. This means that the variation of attenuation can be used as an indicator of the heterogeneity degree of reservoir zone. The VSP and sonic intrinsic attenuations exhibit high anomalies in oil-rich zones, and the ratio of the compressional sonic attenuation to the shear attenuation exhibits a high anomaly in gas-rich zones, but not in oil-rich zones, because the presence of oil influences the compressional and shears attenuations in a similar fashion. However, the presence of gas attenuates compressional waves much more than the shear waves. Therefore, can be used to distinguish oil- and gas-rich zones. The highly fractured reservoir units display negative VSP intrinsic attenuation anomalies and strong scattering, which reveals a strong interference phenomenon. This phenomenon leads to an increase in amplitude of the downgoing wave versus depth, which results in negative attenuation. Hence, strong negative intrinsic attenuation accompanied by strong scattering can be an indicator of a highly fractured zone. The VSP and sonic intrinsic attenuations in such zones have a large discrepancy, which might be due to the squirt flow mechanism due to the inter-crack fluid flow due to the compressional stress induced by seismic waves on the fractures. This mechanism attenuates the waves propagating at low frequencies less, because the fluid pressure has sufficient time to reach equilibrium, which is not the case at high frequencies. This explains why the VSP intrinsic attenuation is much smaller than the sonic attenuation in highly fractured zones. As such, a large discrepancy between VSP and sonic intrinsic attenuations also indicates a highly fractured reservoir.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)533-543
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Petroleum Science and Engineering
StatePublished - Mar 2019


  • Attenuation
  • Fractures
  • Reservoir
  • Sonic
  • VSP


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