Controlled-source electromagnetic (CSEM) data are sensitive to the subsurface resistivity distribution, but 3D inversion results are ambiguous, and in-depth interpretation is challenging. Resolution and sensitivity analysis as well as the influence of noise on resolution have been used to quantify 3D inversion performance. Based on these numerical studies, a land-based CSEM survey was designed and carried out at the Schoonebeek oil field, the Netherlands. The acquired data were processed and subsequently inverted for the resistivity distribution. The 1D and 3D inversion of horizontal electric-field data show the reservoir at the right depth, matching well-log data without using a priori knowledge about the actual reservoir depth. We used a 1D model with fine layering as a starting model for 3D inversion. Synthetic data inversions and sensitivity tests demonstrate that resistive or conductive bodies inside the reservoir zone may be well-detectable with our limited acquisition geometry. Spatial variations in the reservoir resistivity are visible in the measured data and after inversion by assuming good knowledge of the background resistivity distribution. The reservoir resistivity and size, however, have to be interpreted with care considering the intrinsically low resolution of electromagnetic (EM) which is further reduced by manmade EM noise.
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