Technology tie ups boost seismic sensing capabilities

Paul Boughton

Sean Ottewell reports on a raft of technology tie-ups are providing users with novel technologies together with increased technical support and training services.
Shell and HP have announced a breakthrough in the capability of their jointly developed inertial sensing technology to shoot and record seismic data at much higher sensitivity and at ultra-low frequencies.

The new onshore wireless seismic acquisition system is designed to provide a clearer understanding of the earth's subsurface, thus increasing prospects for discovering greater quantities of oil and gas to meet the world's increasing energy needs.

The sensing technology has now been demonstrated to have a noise floor - a measure of the smallest detectable acceleration over a range of frequencies - of 10 nano-g per square root Hertz (ng/rtHz), which is equal to the noise created by the earth's ocean waves at the quietest locations on earth as defined by the Peterson low noise model. The tests were conducted in the seismic testing vault at the US Geological Survey's (USGS) Albuquerque Seismological Laboratory facility in New Mexico.

"Responding to the energy challenge, the oil and gas industry is tackling ever deeper and more complex reservoirs, as well as reservoirs in very tight rock systems," said Dirk Smit, chief scientist for geophysics and vice president of exploration technology, Shell.

"In particular, for onshore settings, this requires enhanced quality seismic data as well as the cost-efficient, flexible deployment of seismic sensor networks. The collaboration with HP demonstrates Shell's strategic approach to driving innovative technology solutions through active partnering."

"This new sensing milestone is the latest step in the collaboration between HP and Shell, which is on track to produce a leap forward in onshore seismic data quality to improve the exploration risk evaluation and decisions, illustrating the industry-wide benefits that can be achieved through cross-company innovation," added Rich Duncombe, senior strategist, technology development organisation, imaging and printing group (IPG), HP.

At the test facility, HP was able to compare the seismic response of the new sensor side-by-side with a USGS reference sensor when an earthquake occurred in the Gulf of California during the testing period. The signal from the reference sensor was matched by the new sensor down to 25 mHz, verifying the sensor's response at low frequencies.

The seismic system uses the breadth of HP's technology development capabilities as well as Shell's advanced geophysical expertise in seismic data acquisition systems and operations. As such, this collaboration builds on the core strengths of each company to advance technology in this field.

The system will be delivered by HP Enterprise Services and the company's IPG. It is based in part on the high-performance sensing technology originally co-developed by HP Labs - the company's central research arm - along with IPG and Shell research in seismic network design.

The companies describe their collaboration as a cornerstone for an information ecosystem that empowers people to make better, faster decisions to improve safety, security and environmental sustainability while transforming business economics. Sensing solutions are positioned to provide a new level of awareness through a network of sensors, data storage and analysis tools that monitor the environment, assets, and health and safety.

Other tie-ups

WGP Group has announced a newly-formed cooperation agreement with new 3D acquisition provider, P-Cable 3D Seismic.

P-Cable approached WGP as a potential partner due to its history of marine geophysical project management solutions. The basis for the cooperation agreement will be for WGP to provide technical and management services, including the evaluation and installation of P-Cable systems on client vessels, as well as providing training and technical support services in accordance with clients' needs.

WGP's ceo Mark Burnett commented: "This new business venture between WGP and P-Cable sits perfectly with the strategic development aims of the company and will utilise our unique experience in providing solutions to new or challenging geophysical projects. We further appreciate and are enthused by the innovation of the revolutionary technology and methodology which P-Cable has developed to acquire game changing high-resolution seismic data."

P-Cable is an R&D company devoted to commercialising the patented P-Cable 3D seismic technology which has been in development since 2001. The technology is now proven, with more than 20 3D cubes having been acquired using three different P-Cable systems.

The P-Cable cable system offers low-cost, high-resolution true 3D data. The system can be deployed from small vessels (30m or longer) and only requires five winches to support between six and 24 steamers. The end result is high-resolution data and detailed mapping of targets in the shallow section. The P-Cable system allows acquisition of quality of data that currently cannot be achieved with conventional acquisition methods, and at a fraction of the cost, time and manpower.

WGP's engineering Manager Terry Hibben added: "Having looked at the whole product, operationally and the results, we see this as a significant tool for both use in the geophysical, geohazard and academic sectors. It fits with well WGP's area of experience and future plans."

Following a survey cruise carried out in April, WGP is reviewing current equipment installation and deployment methods in readiness for additional trials later in the year and towards full commercialisation and marketing of the system.

Finally, Global Geophysical Services and ARKex have announced an agreement to promote ShaleQube, an innovative combination of proven geophysical techniques for application in the Marcellus Shale.

ShaleQube, developed by ARKeX , combines ARKeX’s proprietary BlueQube acquisition technology with Finite Element Analysis (FEA) to generate 3D volume to highlight areas of structural complexity within the Marcellus. The two companies are jointly acquiring a non-exclusive ShaleQube survey this summer, open to industry participation. ShaleQube’s proven application was initially developed over the Montney Shale in British Columbia.

“We are pleased to be working with Global on this project,” said Phill Houghton, ARKeX vp new ventures. “The application of ShaleQube in the Marcellus is a natural fit with Global’s Basin InSight offering to provide exceptional understanding of the Marcellus.”

Chris usher, Global Geophysical chief technology officer, commented, “The integration of ARKeX gradiometry technology with Global’s 3D seismic data sets will enhance our Basin Insight offering and provide unrivalled understanding of the Marcellus Shale’s structural complexity at a regional scale.

“This is the first time that this combination of technologies has been applied in unconventional resource exploration at such a scale,” he added.

The survey will be flown using BlueQube technology, which comprises high-resolution gravity gradiometry, gravity and magnetic data acquired simultaneously using the same airborne platform (Fig. 1). The data will be used to generate a high resolution 3D structural model over the study area, and the structural model is then used as input into the FEA work.

Following the calibration of the stress and strain fields present in the geologic model, FEA is used to calculate zones where there is a high probability of structural complexity. The output is a 3D ShaleQube volume that can be used to optimise exploration programmes and plan future data acquisition through improved knowledge of the subsurface fracture distribution.

Phase one of a planned multiphase programme to cover the entire Marcellus play will cover approximately 4000 square miles in Pennsylvania, with all the data to be acquired and processed this year.

BlueQube uses gravity gradiometry to measure minute variations in the earth’s gravitational field to help image – from aeroplane or ship – oil and gas and mineral bearing structures deep underground.

New functionality for SMT’s KINGDOM 8.7

Text: Seismic Micro-Technology’s (SMT) KINGDOM 8.7 introduces comprehensive new functionality to help optimise field development planning and operations. Major capabilities in this release include real-time geosteering optimisation, advanced microseismic interpretation and well path planning. With KINGDOM 8.7, geoscientists, engineers, and managers can work together in the same software.

"To reduce cycle times and increase accuracy, geoscience teams today must use more real-time technology to better collaborate with engineers at the well site during drilling and completion operations," said Jitesh Chanchani, SMT vp of product management and business development. "To help these remote teams work seamlessly in every stage of field evaluation and exploitation, KINGDOM 8.7 integrates cutting-edge, multi-disciplinary new science."

Optimising development in unconventional reservoirs can be difficult due to thin stratigraphic sections and the unpredictability of laterally changing geology between well locations. KINGDOM'S enhanced microseismic interpretation capabilities and visualisation enables teams to understand fracture growth and allows optimisation through near real-time learning for subsequent fracture treatments.

Planning a well path is key to maximising contact with the reservoir and enhancing hydrocarbon production. KINGDOM Well Path Planner is a fully integrated well target and deviation planning tool within the KINGDOM suite. Users can pick targets in 2D and 3D, both in the time and depth domain. Well Path Planner supports the industry standard methods to design the wellbore and calculate inclinations, azimuths and offsets. With a single button click, users can create a cross-section of the proposed path and quickly share it with drillers and asset team members.

Fig. 1. The survey will be flown using BlueQube technology.



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