Victor Schmidt Houston
The oil and gas business is in good hands if placed with the geologists present at the AAPG convention in Salt Lake City recently. Their delight at the intricacies of the world's sedimentary basins was obvious from the discussions at the poster sessions and in the hallways of the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The vibrancy of the oil service community was also evident as the service companies made the effort to support the geological community. They are even creating new business structures to squeeze inefficiencies from standard practices that interfere with the real work – interpretation.
The total number of attendees was less than expected this year. This begs the question of the value that oil companies place in the professional development of their staffs and the companies' needs for new ideas and techniques. Continued corporate consolidation limits the opportunities for geoscientists. Necessary specialties continue to diminish. Cost-savings measures are attempting to replace creative minds with standardized computer enhanced processes.
Oil company's corporate profits have been exceptional over the last year, but there seems to be a decreased acceptance of the risk inherent in the business and a reduced commitment to the development of the professionals who find and develop the oil needed by the world. The seed corn is being eaten.
There is still a ray of hope. The participation of many students in the oral and poster sessions demonstrates that the fires of inquiry and discovery still exist. The real question is whether the oil companies will support their future. Commitment is shown by deeds.
Power needs grow
For the past two years, clustered-PCs running Linux have been replacing dedicated vector processing systems across the industry. The trend is gathering steam and will likely work its way to the individual desktop very soon.
At a symposium in Houston sponsored by Rice University, HP, and Intel, an integrated path forward was presented for high performance cluster computing (HPCC). Rice recently installed a major HPCC system on its campus composed of 286 Itanium 2 processors (900 MHz, 1.5 MB cache) with 640 gigabytes (GB) of available memory, 11 terabytes (TB) of disk storage, and 6.5 TB of storage on the nodes, all running under Linux.
The primary advantage of the new computing path is the ability to bring "commodity computing" to the high performance needs of research and industry. Faster processor speeds coupled with open-source operating systems allow a flexible, modular, and scalable system to be assembled and tuned for a wide range of purposes.
BP has added computing capabilities to its advanced seismic research facility. The research facility has added HP Intel Itanium 2-based systems running Linux, for faster seismic imaging.
The Houston center includes a high-performance computing cluster of 259 HP rx5670 systems with more than 1,000 Itanium 2 processors. This provides four teraflops and 8,000 GB of memory, running under the Linux operating system.
The Thales Geosolution Group upgraded the MV Thales Venturer in Trinidad with the GunLink 2000 hydrophone acquisition and gun control system from Seamap. This system provides up to 512 hydrophone input channels and control lines for up to 256 seismic guns, allowing full source control and far-field signature synthesis.
The MV Thales Venturer has upgraded with the GunLink 2000 system.
Magic Earth, a wholly owned subsidiary of Halliburton, released GeoProbe 2.7. This release integrates for 3D well planning and advanced autotracking.
Infoterra Ltd. completed the first run of its Global Seeps Secure Internet website, which provides access to its worldwide seeps database. The website allows registered users from sponsoring companies to access all or any portion of the database. The system uses both raster and vector web serving and hosting technology.
Veritas DGC Ltd. began acquisition of two multi-client surveys offshore Namibia in blocks 2011 and 2111 of the Walvis basin. A detailed grid of 1,000-km will delineate the Ondjou (Elephant) prospect while a larger grid of 3,500 km in the Orange basin will improve the imaging of the trend south of the Kudu field.
The R/V Nanhai 502 will gather the surveys using an 8,000-m streamer. The final data will be available October 2003.
ExxonMobil awarded WesternGeco a multi-project Q-Marine contract over three ExxonMobil assets in West Africa, the Gulf of Mexico, and the North Sea. The surveys will be conducted by the Geco Topaz and the Western Neptune.
Jebco Seismic and Global Exploration Services have a new report about the East African margin showing greater petroleum potential. The most favorable areas for thick, clean, clastic reservoir development are associated with either the mouths of the largest rivers or with clusters of smaller rivers. These are located immediately outboard of the hanging wall of the continental hinges in current deepwater settings.
A new petroleum assessment of East Africa shows multiple Cretaceous depocenters and increased sand delivery in the Tertiary section.
Using a new understanding of the tectonic and thermal history of the continental margins, the companies used satellite-derived gravity maps to divide the East Africa offshore into geologically self-consistent segments. The prospectivity of each section is assessed and ranked.