Seismic modelling of a fractured carbonate reservoir in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Mohammed Y. Ali, Michael H. Worthington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The problem of identifying and quantifying the brittle deformation of carbonate reservoirs both in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and elsewhere is addressed. Naturally occurring fractures may substantially increase or decrease the permeability and porosity of reservoirs, and therefore knowledge of location, orientation, density and connectivity of fractures is required to optimise hydrocarbon production. A rock containing parallel fractures can be seismically anisotropic, provided the vertical and horizontal extent and spacing of the fractures is small compared to the seismic wavelength. Seismic anisotropy may be detectable from attributes of pre-stack 3-D seismic data including reflection amplitude variation with offset and azimuth (AVOA). However, in carbonates seismic-velocity anisotropy can result from many different factors, including present-day horizontal stress anisotropy, sedimentological features such as clinoforms, and geological structure. We present a methodology for determining whether a proposed reservoir-fracture model is consistent with the observed seismic data. The approach includes modelling the seismic anisotropy where an essential input parameter is the compliance of the fractures. Since so little is known about this key parameter, we determine an upper bound to fracture compliance from well data and existing laboratory and field data and consequently obtain an upper bound to the seismic anisotropy that might be detected. We apply our method to data from an onshore carbonate oilfield in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, where analysis of core, log and 3-D post-stack seismic data indicates that open or partially open fractures may be pervasive and could have a dominant influence on reservoir production. Due to poor AVOA data quality our results are inconclusive. However, this case study is a demonstration of the methodology that could be applied elsewhere.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)89-106
Number of pages18
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2011


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