Computing Risk for Oil Prospects: Principles and Programs - 1st Edition - ISBN: 9780080418902, 9780080529509

Computing Risk for Oil Prospects: Principles and Programs, Volume 14

1st Edition

Authors: J.W. Harbaugh J.C. Davis J. Wendebourg
Hardcover ISBN: 9780080418902
eBook ISBN: 9780080529509
Imprint: Pergamon
Published Date: 22nd November 1995
Page Count: 451
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Table of Contents

Foreword. Preface. Getting things rolling. The Challenge of Risk Assessment. The nature of exploration. Defining probabilities. Geological uncertainty and oil occurrence. Regional hydrocarbon endowment. Principal premises of this book. Field Size Distributions. Estimating "Q". Oil field populations. Statistics of frequency distributions. Cumulative probability plots. Caution: future discoveries. Success, Sequence, and Gambler's Ruin. Success ratios and dry hole probabilities. Long-term luck and binomial distribution. Estimating Discovery Size from Prospect Size. Statistical correlations between properties. Estimating volumes from seismic maps. Outcome Probabilities and Success Ratios. Geology and drilling results. Bayesian revision of regional success ratios. Bayesian revision of distributions. Modeling Prospects. Appeal of the simulation approach. Steps in Monte Carlo simulation. Distributions and parameters. Are geologic properties independent? Mapping Properties and Uncertainties. Computer contouring. How contour maps are made. Geostatistics in risk assessment. Discriminating Discoveries and Dry Holes. Combining geological variables. Assessing a new area. Updating assessments. Exploring magyarstan target area. The immature stage. The intermediate stage. The mature stage. The final stage. Forecasting Cash Flow for a Prospect. Financial overview. Discounted net cash flow analysis. Using cashflow. Output from cashflow. Example applications of cashflow. The Worth of Money. A dry hole versus a discovery. RATs, Decision Tables, and Trees. RATs link outcomes with risk. How RATs treat information. Example risk analysis tables. Decision aids for actions. Constructing decision tables. Decision trees. Overview and a look to the future. Bringing It Together. Risking the Roskoff prospect. The prize offered. Troyska and Roskoff areas compared. Estimating Roskoff's dry hole probability. Probabilities attached to field volumes. Roskoff prospect financial analysis. Some final points. Bibliography. Appendix A - Software Installation of Risk. Appendix B - Riskstat Manual. Appendix C - Riskmap Manual. Appendix D - Risktab Manual. Index.

151 illustrations, 861 lit. refs.


The petroleum industry is enduring difficult financial times because of the continuing depressed price of crude oil on the world market. This has caused major corporate restructuring and reductions in staff throughout the industry. Because oil exploration must now be done with fewer people under more difficult economic constraints, it is essential that the most effective and efficient procedures be used. Computing Risk for Oil Prospects describes how prospect risk assessment — predicting the distribution of financial gains or losses that may result from the drilling of an exploration well — can be done using objective procedures implemented on personal computers. The procedures include analyses of historical data, interpretation of geological and geophysical data, and financial calculations to yield a spectrum of the possible consequences of decisions. All aspects of petroleum risk assessment are covered, from evaluating regional resources, through delineating an individual prospect, to calculation of the financial consequences of alternative decisions and their possible results. The bottom lines are given both in terms of the probable volumes of oil that may be discovered and the expected monetary returns. Statistical procedures are linked with computer mapping and interpretation algorithms, which feed their results directly into routines for financial analysis. The programs in the included library of computer programs are tailored to fit seamlessly together, and are designed for ease and simplicity of operation. The two diskettes supplied are IBM compatible. Full information on loading is given in Appendix A - Software Installation. Risk I diskette contains data files and executables and Risk 2 diskette contains only executables.

The authors contend that the explorationist who develops a prospect should be involved in every facet of its analysis, including risk and financial assessments. This book provides the tools necessary for these tasks.


For professional geologists, geophysicists, landmen and managers in petroleum exploration and development. Financial analysts and computer specialists in the petroleum and investment industries. Government, academic and industrial researchers in resource assessment, and those teaching courses on risk assessment.


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© Pergamon 1995
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@from:Michael R. Walls informative and well-written book...For the geologist, engineer or manager who knows about exploration geology but not about probability, economic analysis, and decision-making techniques, I highly recommend this book. @source:Geotimes @from:James A. Murtha @qu:...I found this book a highly readable, carefully constructed, painstakingly systematic presentation of a viewpoint that may be shared by many...the book is a significant and long overdue addition to the petroleum literature. I would add Computing Risk for Oil Prospects to a short list of books worth owning and rereading. The price tag is justified by the inclusion of the software and the data. @source:Computers & Geosciences

About the Authors

J.W. Harbaugh Author

Affiliations and Expertise

Professor of Geological Sciences and Petroleum Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA

J.C. Davis Author

Affiliations and Expertise

Chief, Mathematical Geology, Kansas Geological Survey, Professor of Petroleum Engineering, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, USA

J. Wendebourg Author

Affiliations and Expertise

Research Scientist, Geology/Geochemistry Division, Institut Français du Pétrole, Rueil-Malmaison, France