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State-of-the-art E&P Technology

JAPEX assembles its engineers and researchers engaged in oil and gas E&P in the Technical Division at Tokyo headquarters, establishing a foundation to address the various technical challenges we face in our business. In order to maintain and improve our technical capabilities, the Technical Division carries out activities such as the consolidation of elemental technologies, collection of up-to-date information, study of field deployment of new technology, and technical support and/or evaluation of domestic and international E&P operations. These activities have contributed to further the development of JAPEX’s business as well as to advance the Japanese E&P industry.

JAPEX technical staff have the fundamental mission of understanding subsurface conditions more precisely to improve the success rate of commercial discoveries and production of oil and gas fields, and producing oil and gas from wells safety and efficiently. To fulfill this mission, they are not only actively taking part in mastering, applying, and developing widely used E&P technologies, but also proactively undertaking the development, verification, and field deployment of new technologies.

3D Seismic Survey & Seismic Geomorphology

Next-generation Marine Resources Research Technology

ERD (Extended Reach Drilling)

Geological Modeling

Reservoir Simulation

Advanced Production Engineering (PE) Technology

3D Seismic Survey & Seismic Geomorphology

The prediction of reservoir distribution prior to drilling is an important factor in reducing exploration risk.

Seismic geomorphology, the technology of analyzing 3D seismic attributes (amplitude, wave shapes, frequency, etc.) with high accuracy in order to visualize reservoir distribution, has developed rapidly since the early 2000s. It enables us to analyze reservoir distribution in three dimensions, heretofore only possible in one or two dimensions.

JAPEX has been applying this technology to various types of reservoirs in our domestic and overseas fields since around 2007. Utilizing seismic geomorphology in conjunction with sedimentology and sequence stratigraphy, the geomorphology of the reservoir during deposition (fluvial channels, submarine fans and carbonate reef systems, etc.) is reconstructed in order to estimate the distribution of the reservoir. The results are interpreted within a sequence stratigraphic framework by sedimentologists, and then used as basic data for geological modeling and reservoir characterization in exploration and development projects.

3D seismic survey data (offshore)
3D seismic survey data (offshore)

3D view of submarine fan system
3D view of submarine fan system
(Green to orange colored areas denote reservoir)

(Notice) Figures showing results of JAPEX original evaluation using government owned seismic data; permission granted by Resources and Energy Agency, and JOGMEC.

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Next-generation Marine Resources Research Technology

Japan's territorial waters and exclusive economic zone are vast with an area of about 4.64 million square kilometers, and are believed to be abundant in seabed mineral resources. The technology to search for these resources with high precision, efficiency, and low cost is a must in the development of these marine resources.

JAPEX established the “Research and Development Partnership for Next Generation Technology of Marine Resources Survey (J-MARES)” with other private companies in December 2014 to contribute to the development of new technology for marine resources exploration on the basis of technology and experience nurtured in oil and gas E&P. J-MARES’s activities are conducted as part of the research program “Next-generation Technology for Ocean Resources Exploration (Zipangu Project in the ocean Plan)” which is one of the tasks of the “Cross Ministerial Strategic Innovation Promotion Program” implemented by the Cabinet Office of the Japanese government. J-MARES aims for the development of advanced technologies targeting seafloor massive sulphide (SMS), and the development and practical application of a survey system integrating various information and data.

The system under development provides for an investigation scheme from preliminary to detailed stages, in which surveys combining acoustic, electromagnetic, and chemical research methods are conducted to narrow down prospective areas. There are also high expectations for the technical feedback to oil and gas exploration as a result of the development of this system.

Schema of gaining data by Vertical Cable Seismic (VCS)
Schema of gaining data by Vertical Cable Seismic (VCS)

Schema of gaining data by Autonomous underwater vehicle Cable Seismic (ACS)
Schema of gaining data
by Autonomous underwater vehicle Cable Seismic (ACS)

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ERD (Extended Reach Drilling)

ERD (Extended Reach Drilling), an advanced drilling technology to drill wells further with high inclination in search for oil and natural gas is drawing attention in recent years.

There are cases where we wish to drill exploration or production wells towards subsurface targets which are overlain by mountains, rivers, or town areas, and it is impossible to drill wells from a surface location directly above the target. In such cases, we drill directional wells from a surface location at a distance. This technology has been improved, and it has become possible to drill wells with a very large horizontal reach by drilling wells with a higher angle than previously possible.

In recent years, this technology has been actively employed in such cases as the drilling of oil & gas production wells from an onshore site towards subsea targets located far offshore (ERD technology), as well as the drilling of horizontal wells into oil and gas bearing formations, thereby achieving more efficient extraction.

This technology has been applied in Japan as well, and JAPEX has been gaining experience in drilling ERD wells with large horizontal reaches and depths. In 2015, JAPEX completed the drilling of the longest extended reach well in Japan at Tomakomai, Hokkaido (horizontal reach: 4,346m, total depth: 5,800m, vertical depth: 2,753m). Likewise at Tomakomai in 2014, JAPEX successfully drilled a horizontal section of over 500m length at depths exceeding 4,600m vertical depth.

Example of Drilling Profile of ERD Well
Example of Drilling Profile of ERD Well

Drilling Rig of the Longest Extended Reach Well at Tomakomai, 2015
Drilling Rig of the Longest Extended
Reach Well at Tomakomai, 2015

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Geological Modeling

As it is impossible to actually see the oil and gas reservoirs lying at depths thousands of meters below the surface, geological models are built from the limited information available in order to predict the subsurface reservoir conditions and conduct evaluation. Over the last decade or so, geological models have become more detailed, evolving into 3D geological models.

3D geological models are 3D numerical models created on computers, expressing a wide range of subsurface information such as geological structure, reservoir rock quality and oil and gas distribution, and advances in computer technology and 3D seismic imaging have played important roles in their evolution. Recently, geological models have become even more sophisticated by the application of geostatistical techniques.

3D geological modeling has now become the norm in field development projects to determine the location of development wells and trajectory of wells, as well as the input for reservoir flow simulations. It has also become more common to create 3D models in exploration projects to estimate the initial reserves in place.

Example of 3D geological model
Example of 3D geological model (Takahashi et al. 2006) *1

Higher-level geological models by practical using of geostatistical method
Higher-resolution geological model
by using geostatistical method (right),
compared with conventional model (Yamamoto, 2008) *2

*1) A. Takahashi, K. Kashihara, S. Mizohata, N. Shimada, T. Nakayama, M. Kose and T. Torigoe, 2006 : Construction of three-dimensional geological models for oil sands reservoirs in Athabasca, Canada, Geophysical Exploration, 59(3), 233-244. Reprinted with permission of Society of Exploration Geophysicists of Japan.
*2) Yamamoto, H., 2008 : Integrated reservoir characterization of submarine fan deposits in Iwafune-Oki Oil Field, JJAPT, 73(6), 453-463. Reprinted with permission of the Japanese Association of Petroleum Technology.

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Reservoir Simulation

A geological model visualizes the distribution of oil and gas in the subsurface on the basis of geological data such as geological structure, rock characteristics, and a model based on the geological model which visualizes the behavior of oil and gas is called a “reservoir model”. The technology which utilizes a reservoir model to conduct numerical simulation to predict future oil and gas production is called “reservoir simulation”, and is employed to identify which recovery option is the safest and most economical, in order to propose the most efficient and effective development plan for a reservoir.

When making predictions on future production, there are always uncertainties in the limited subsurface information acquired, which should be taken into account. To this end, sensitivity analysis and geostatistical reservoir characterization is utilized to identify the uncertainty range, and appropriate representative reservoir models are selected from multiple reservoir models which are consistent with both the geological information and actual dynamic reservoir performance. Then, based on these selected representative models, future predictions are made of the range of oil and gas production volume in order to make the project robust and optimize the oil and gas development.

4 different models of reservoir distributions
4 different models of reservoir distributions

Future prediction by 4 different models
Future prediction by 4 different models

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Advanced Production Engineering (PE) Technology

In recent years, aiming for efficient oil and gas recovery, the demand for Production Engineering (PE), a technology area which straddles well and production management has increased as a means to pursue improved production from each well. This is due to the growing importance of applying secondary/tertiary recovery techniques (IOR; Improved Oil Recovery) to domestic oil and gas fields, and technologies such as artificial lift, well stimulation (acid treatment, fracturing), sand control (gravel pack, etc.) for the development of unconventional resources such as tight oil (shale oil) and methane hydrate, and the opportunities to acquire and apply these special technologies are increasing.

JAPEX has seized opportunities to gain experience in applying these PE technologies. In 2013, it conducted an acid treatment test on the Onnnagawa Formation in an existing well of the Yurihara oil and gas field at Yuri-honjyo City, Akita Prefecture, confirmed a certain amount of tight oil production through flow tests at the well after acid treatment, and proceeded to commencement of commercial production in April 2014.
Also in 2014, JAPEX conducted Japan’s first multi stage fracturing operation at Fukumezawa oil and gas field (Oga City, Akita Prefecture), aiming for the development of a tight oil reservoir.

Scene of acid treatment test at Ayukawa oil and gas field
Scene of acid treatment test
at Ayukawa oil and gasfield

Scene of multi stage fracturing operation for tight oil reservoir at Fukumezawa oil and gas field
Scene of multi stage fracturing operation for tight oil reservoir
at Fukumezawa oil and gas field

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