Value Creation with Multi-Criteria Decision Making in Geosteering Operations


real-time well placement
geosteering decision
multi-objective decision
decision making

How to Cite

K. Kullawan, R. B. Bratvold, J. E. Bickel. Value Creation with Multi-Criteria Decision Making in Geosteering Operations. Int. J. Petrol. Technol. [Internet]. 2016 Jul. 29 [cited 2022 Jun. 28];3(1):15-31. Available from:


Due to escalated drilling costs, the petroleum industry has been attempting to access the largest possible hydrocarbon resources with the lowest achievable costs. Multiple well objectives are set prior to the start of drilling. Then, a geosteering approach is implemented to help operators achieve these objectives.

A comprehensive literature survey has been performed on geosteering case histories, including many cases with multiple objectives. We found that the listed objectives are often conflicting and expressed in different measures. Furthermore, none of the cases from the reviewed literature has discussed a systematic approach for dealing with multiple objectives in geosteering contexts. Without implementing a well-structured approach, decision makers are likely to make judgments about the relative importance of each objective based on previous experiences or on approximate methods. Research shows that such decision-making approaches are unlikely to identify optimal courses of action.

In this paper, we propose a systematic method for making multi-criteria decisions in geosteering context. The method is constructed such that it is applicable for real-time operations. Results show that different decision criteria can have significant impact on well success as measured by its trajectory, future production, cost, and operational efficiency.


Norrena KP and Deutsch CV. Automatic Determination of Well Placement Subject to Geostatistical and Economic Constraints. Proc SPE International Thermal Operations and Heavy Oil Symposium and International Horizontal Well Technology Conference, Calgary, Alberta, Canada 2002; 4- 7: SPE-78996-MS.

Schulze-Riegert R, Bagheri M, Krosche M, et al. Multiple- Objective Optimization Applied to Well Path Design under Geological Uncertainty. Proc SPE Reservoir Simulation Symposium. The Woodlands, Texas, USA, 21-23 February 2011, SPE-141712-MS.

Hasan A, Gunnerud V, Foss B, et al. Decision Analysis for Long-term and Short-term Production Optimization Applied to the Voador Field. Proc SPE Reservoir Characterization and Simulation Conference and Exhibition, Abu Dhabi, UAE 2013; 16-18: SPE-166027-MS.

Coutinho MR, Abreu CE, Braga MS, et al. Horizontal Well Geosteering: The Experience in a Giant Campos Basin Deep-Water Field. Proc SPE Latin American and Caribbean Petroleum Engineering Conference, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago 2003; 27-30.

Mitra PP, Joshi TR and Thevoux-Chabuel H. Real Time Geosteering of High Tech Well in Virtual Reality and Prediction Ahead of Drill Bit for Cost Optimization and Risk Reduction in Mumbai High L-III Reservoir. Proc SPE Asia Pacific Oil and Gas Conference and Exhibition, Perth, Australia 2004; 18-20: SPE-88531-MS.

Zimmer C, Richter D, Person J, et al. Drilling a Better Pair: New Technologies in SAGD Directional Drilling (in English). Journal of Canadian Petroleum Technology 2012; 51(2): 115-126. SPE-137137-PA.

Dawoud AM, Mahdi AE, Ayoub MR, et al. Geosteering Long Horizontal Holes in Abu Dhabi Heterogeneous Carbonate Reservoirs. Proc SPE Oil and Gas India Conference and Exhibition, Mumbai, India 2010; 20-22: SPE-128851-MS.

Cuadros J, Duque NO, Cuadros G, et al. Horizontal Well Placement Optimization for Heavy Oil Production in Girasol Field. Proc Trinidad and Tobago Energy Resources Conference, Port of Spain, Trinidad 2010; 27-30: SPE- 132884-MS.

Longis C, Ferment DY, Madjidi A. Geosteering in a Complex Dolomitic Reservoir. Proc SPE/IADC Middle East Drilling Technology Conference, Bahrain 2001; 22-24: SPE- 72277-MS.

Omovie SJ, Pearson WR. Using Deep-Azimuthal Resistivity and 3D Seismic for Optimal Horizontal Well Placement: An Integrated Approach, Nipisi Field, Western Canada. Proc IADC/SPE Drilling Conference and Exhibition, San Diego, California, USA 2012; 6-8: SPE-151047-MS.

Navarro ADP, Kumar S, Perez-Damas CE, et al. Simulation While Drilling: Utopia or Reality? Proc., Intelligent Energy Conference and Exhibition, Amsterdam, The Netherlands 2006; 11-13: SPE-99945-MS.

Rajaieyamchee MA, Bratvold RB, Badreddine A. Bayesian Decision Networks for Optimal Placement of Horizontal Wells. Proc., SPE EUROPEC/EAGE Annual Conference and Exhibition, Barcelona, Spain 2010; 14-17: SPE-129984-MS.

Giese M, Bratvold RB. Probabilistic Modeling for Decision Support in Integrated Operations. SPE Economics and Management 2011; 3(3): 173-185. SPE-127761-MS.

Kullawan K, Bratvold RB, Bickel JE. A Decision Analytic Approach to Geosteering Operations. SPE Drilling and Completion 2014; 29(01): 36-46. SPE-167433-PA.

Keeney RL. Value-Focused Thinking: A Path to Creative Decisionmaking. Harvard University Press (reprint) 2009.

Bratvold RB, Begg SH. Making Good Decisions. Society of Petroleum Engineers (reprint) 2010.

Lesso JrWG, Kashikar SV. The Principles and Procedures of Geosteering. Proc., SPE/IADC Drilling Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana 1996; 12-15: SPE-35051-MS.

Amar R. Drilling Performance Management System. Proc SPE/IADC Middle East Drilling and Technology Conference, Cairo, Egypt 2007; 22-24. SPE-107250-MS.

Parnell GS, Bresnick TA, Tani SN, et al. Handbook of Decision Analysis. Wiley (reprint) 2013.

Rudduck NP, Khurana AK, Congreve M, et al. Multi-Objective Decision Making: A Critical Analysis of The Applicability Of Renewable Energy Technologies. Proc SPE Asia Pacific Oil and Gas Conference and Exhibition, Adelaide, Australia 2006; 11-13: SPE-101770-MS.

Tversky A and Kahneman D. Judgment under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases. Science 1974; 185(4157): 1124-1131. 10.1126/science.185.4157.1124.

Simon HA. Models of Bounded Rationality. Cambridge, Massachusetts, MIT Press (reprint) 1982.

Goodwin P and Wright G. Decision Analysis for Management Judgment. Third edition. John Wiley and Sons, Ltd. (reprint) 2004.

Gigerenzer G and Todd PM. Simple Heuristics that Make Us Smart, ABC Research Group (reprint) 1999.

Virine L and Murphy D. Analysis of Multi-Criteria Decision- Making Methodologies for the Petroleum Industry. Proc., International Petroleum Technology Conference, Dubai, UAE 2007; 4-6: IPTC-11765-MS.

Shafir E, Simonson I and Tversky A. Reason-based choice. Cognition 1993; 49(1): 11-36.

Neumann PM, Salem KM, Tobert GP, et al. Formation Pressure While Drilling Utilized for Geosteering. Proc., SPE Saudi Arabia Section Technical Symposium, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia 2007; 7-8: SPE-110940-MS.

Reddy SK and Pitcher JL. Application of 3D Geosteering Capabilities in Geologically Complex Shale. Proc., SPE Americas Unconventional Resources Conference, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 2012; 5-7: SPE-153160-MS.

Keeney RL and Raiffa H. Decisions with Multiple Objectives: Preferences and Value Tradeoffs. Series in Probability and Mathematical Statistics., Wiley and Sons, New York, New York 1993.

Howard RA. The Foundations of Decision Analysis Revisited. In W Edwards, J Ralph F Miles, and Dv Winterfeldt (Editors), Advances in Decision Analysis. Cambridge University Press, New York, New York 2007; 32-56.

Turley JA. A Risk Analysis of Transition Zone Drilling. Proc., 51st Annual Fall Technical Conference and Exhibition: New Orleans, Louisiana 1976; 3-6: SPE-6022-MS.

Cowan JV. Risk Analysis as Applied to Drilling and Developing an Exploration Prospect. Proc 44th Annual Fall Meeting of SPE of AIME, Denver, Colorado, 28 September – 1 October 1969. SPE-2583-MS.

Rajaieyamchee MA and Bratvold RB. A Decision Analytic Framework for Autonomous Geosteering. Proc., SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, Florence, Italy 2010; 19-22: SPE-135416-MS.

Suslick SB, Furtado R, Nepomuceno F. Integrating Technological and Financial Uncertainty for Offshore Oil Exploration: An Application of Multiobjective Decision Analysis. Proc., SPE Hydrocarbon Economics and Evaluation Symposium, Dallas, Texas 2001; 2-3: SPE- 68579-MS.

Castro GT, Morooka CK, Bordalo SN. Decision-Making Process for a Deepwater Production System Considering Environmental, Technological and Financial Risks. Proc., SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, San Antonio, Texas 2002; 29 September–2 October 2002. SPE- 77423-MS.

Walls MR. Corporate Risk Tolerance and Capital Allocation: A Practical Approach to Implementing an Exploration Risk Policy. Journal of Petroleum Technology 1995; 47(04): SPE- 28281-PA.

Clemen RT and Reilly T. Making Hard Decisions with Decision Tools. Duxbury/Thomson Learning (reprint) 2001.

Bourgoyne AT. Applied Drilling Engineering. Society of Petroleum Engineers (reprint) 1986.