Seismic velocity modeling in the digital transformation era: a review of the role of machine learning


Seismic velocity modeling is a crucial step in seismic processing that enables the use of velocity information from both seismic and wells to map the depth and thickness of subsurface layers interpreted from seismic images. The velocity can be obtained in the form of normal moveout (NMO) velocity or by an inversion (optimization) process such as in full-waveform inversion (FWI). These methods have several limitations. These limitations include enormous time consumption in the case of NMO due to manual and heavy human involvement in the picking. As an optimization problem, it incurs high cost and suffers from nonlinearity issues. Researchers have proposed various machine learning (ML) techniques including unsupervised, supervised, and semi-supervised learning methods to model the velocity more efficiently. The focus of the studies is mostly to automate the NMO velocity picking, improve the convergence in FWI, and apply FWI using ML directly from the data. In the purview of the digital transformation roadmap of the petroleum industry, this paper presents a chronologic review of these studies, appraises the progress made so far, and concludes with a set of recommendations to overcome the prevailing challenges through the implementation of more advanced ML methodologies. We hope that this work will benefit experts, young professionals, and ML enthusiasts to help push forward their research efforts to achieving complete automation of the NMO velocity and further enhancing the performance of ML applications used in the FWI framework.

Journal of Petroleum Exploration and Production Technology
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Abdullah Alali
Abdullah Alali
PhD holder