Seismic survey vessel capabilities go up while count goes down

OBC graphic courtesy RXT.
OBC graphic courtesy RXT.

Gene Kliewer
Technology Editor, Subsea & Seismic

The 2013 tally of seismic vessels worldwide is 142, down eight from 2012. This decrease in number is offset partially by the addition of new, high-capacity vessels capable of conducting a variety of surveys from 2D through 4D.

Among the new vessels are the following:

  • HYSY 708 - China Oilfield Services Ltd.
  • HYSY 720 - China Oilfield Services Ltd.
  • European Supporter - FairfieldNodal
  • Damon Chouest - FairfieldNodal
  • Fugro Brasilius - Fugro Brasil
  • Fugro Equinox - Fugro Survey Pty. Ltd.
  • Fugro Supporter - Fugro Survey Pty. Ltd.
  • Ramform Titan - PGS
  • Ramform Atlas - PGS.

In the category of geosciences business, CGG has made its voice heard in the past year. First, CGGVeritas agreed to acquire Fugro's Geoscience Division, with the exceptions of existing multi-client library and nodes, for €1.2 billion ($1.55 billion). The agreement includes:

  • Creation of a seabed joint venture focused on the seabed acquisition market, which will be 60%-owned by Fugro after payment of €225 million ($291.6 million) to CGGVeritas
  • A commercial agreement for CGGVeritas to sell Fugro's existing multi-client data, which remains owned by Fugro
  • A global strategic technical and commercial mutual preferred supplier agreement.

In conjunction with announcing the signing of the main agreements needed to complete the acquisition of Fugro's Geoscience Division, CGGVeritas also established a new identity. The name has been shortened to CGG and now is organized into divisions for Equipment, Acquisition and Geology, and Geophysics and Reservoirs.

BP is building in Houston what it says will be the largest commercial supercomputing complex in the world. The High-Performance Computing center is scheduled to open in mid-2013 and will be the worldwide hub for processing and managing geologic and seismic data across all of BP's assets. The HPC will have 67,000 CPUs and is expected to process data at a rate of as much as two petaflops. The total memory will be 536 terabytes and the disk space will total 23.5 petabytes.

One interesting new project is the collaboration between CGG and Saudi Aramco to develop an AUV technique for seabed seismic acquisition. The SpiceRack project intends to develop, manufacture, and commercialize a system for automated deployment and retrieval of self-propelled recording nodes. The invention will be programmed to reach a specific subsea location and will launch itself, record data while resting on the seabed, and return to the recapture vessel for automated retrieval and data download.

Sercel launched a new marine survey design software module for its SeaPro Nav Suite. Sercel said SeaPro Design can generate surveys from simple to complex designs in 2D, 3D, or multi-vessel formats.

Sercel also released its latest generation Sentinel solid streamer, the RD. It has a smaller diameter and weighs 15% less, said Sercel, to reduce cable drag and increase storage capacity onboard seismic vessels.

Halliburton's Landmark Software and Services has bought Petris Technology Inc. PetrisWINDS products will become available as part of Landmark's DecisionSpace portfolio. This includes Recall, DataVera, DrillNET, and the Operations Management Suite.

Halliburton said it now can deliver easy access to its reservoir and well technical data to improve decision-making by providing mission-critical data in a timely manner.

Octio and Siemens have partnered in permanent reservoir monitoring. Siemens will contribute project management and execution, subsea system design, power and communication, as well as subsea system manufacturing. Octio contributes its Permanent Oilfield Monitoring technology based on a digital network including high vector fidelity seismic MEMS sensors with interface to EM, chemical, biological, and oceanographic sensors. The system is built for permanent deployment on the seafloor with a 25-year lifetime. Once installed, the system can perform passive monitoring as well as repeated seismic surveys of the reservoir.

ION Geophysical Corp. has released its next generation redeployable seabed seismic acquisition system. The Calypso system uses ION's VectorSeis digital sensors and is designed to operate twice as deep and twice as efficiently as the prior generation system.

ION says its new Calypso system has the potential to mitigate barriers to wider adoption by doubling cable lengths and productivity while increasing the operating depths.

Calypso offers the following improvements:

  • Tilt-insensitive multi-component (4C) VectorSeis sensors
  • Buoy-based recording
  • Unlimited number of cables with twice the length (12-14 km, or 7.5-15 mi)
  • Water depths to 2,000 m (6,562 ft).

New vessels on the horizon

Petroleum Geo-Services (PGS) has signed charter agreements with PF THOR for four new seismic support vessels. They will be built in Besiktas, Turkey, owned and operated by PF THOR, and taken by PGS on 10-year time charter contracts, with options for extension. Delivery is scheduled for 3Q 2014 onward. The vessels will support PGS's seismic fleet by providing offshore bunkering, crew change assistance, supply of provision and spare parts, and support during in-sea maintenance of seismic equipment.

The propulsion systems, PGS adds, allow the vessels to operate with minimal fuel consumption, enabling fuel cost savings of up to 60% compared with the company's current vessels.

Beyond that, PGS has ordered two more Ramform Titan-class seismic vessels from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and exercised an option for two more. Two of the four vessels are planned for delivery in 2013 with the remaining two scheduled to be completed in 2015.

The Titan-class vessels are 104.2 m (342 ft) long, 70 m (230 ft) wide, and have a 6.4 m (21 ft) draft. Transit speed is 16 knots with diesel electric power totaling 18 MW. Each holds two 30-ft workboats and 24 x 12,000 m (39,360 ft) capacity streamer winches.

Dolphin Geophysical AS has christened the M/V Polar Duchess. The vessel is under contract to TGS and will start soon in a survey in the Barents Sea. The vessel is a purpose built 3D seismic vessel, capable of towing 14 streamers at 100 m (328 ft) separation rigged with Sercel SSAS Sentinel streamers.

Sanco Shipping AS has exercised an option for a second seismic vessel to be built by Kleven Maritime at the Myklebust Verft yard in Norway.

The Sanco Sword, scheduled for delivery in 1Q 2014, is an STY 324 CD design from Skipsteknisk AS and sister vessel to the Sanco Swift which is scheduled for delivery in July 2013. Dolphin has signed a five-year charter for the Sword with three options to extend the charter for two years per option.

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