Seismic Data: Looking for Oil From More Angles

Photo courtesy of Apache Corp.
Seismic boats pass a platform in Apache’s Forties field in the North Sea. A 4D survey showing changes over time in and around the field led to nine wells drilled to sustain the area’s 50,000 BOEPD production rate. 

Selling new offshore seismic survey methods can be reduced to two goals: “We want more of everything at less cost.”

That maxim was offered by Andrew Long, chief scientist of geoscience and engineering, imaging, and engineering for Petroleum Geo-­Services, one of the players in this intensely ­competitive, economically depressed, technology-driven business.

While the science behind using sound waves to image underground formations is baffling to outsiders, the two avenues for doing it better are not. There  are improvements in data acquisition covering sound sources, receivers, and survey methods. And there is the mathematics and computer power needed to process and extract more information from the constantly growing amount of data gathered.

“Today, what is driving things is progress in acquisition,” said Christopher Liner, president of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG). The University of Arkansas geophysics professor said that is significant because “the really big advances in geophysics are always with acquisition.”

That upbeat assessment of the future of seismic was offered late last year as oil prices were on their way to USD 50/bbl. Prices have remained low, leading to reductions in exploration budgets so deep that even deep discounts are attracting little work.

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Seismic Data: Looking for Oil From More Angles

Stephen Rassenfoss, JPT Emerging Technology Senior Editor

01 October 2015

Volume: 67 | Issue: 10