Integration, multi-discipline cooperation among the trends at SEG 2011

The Society of Exploration Geophysicists annual meeting allows attendees to learn about specific technical advances and gain insight into the broad indications of how the business is doing, and what the general trends are.

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Gene Kliewer
Technology Editor,
Subsea & Seismic

The Society of Exploration Geophysicists annual meeting allows attendees to learn about specific technical advances and gain insight into the broad indications of how the business is doing, and what the general trends are.

Based on the 2011 edition held recently in San Antonio, the business is doing well. It was a large show with attendance of 8,202 and with big booths trumpeting an increasing range of offerings from 350 exhibitors. Technical issues were addressed in 624 oral presentations and 240 poster talks.

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Paradigm 2011 has a set of multi-disciplinary geosciences and engineering applications integrated into a user-friendly workflow.

The trends evident at the show fall into two broad categories. In a business sense, there is some acquisition activity and even a few new companies in the market. In a technology sense, both operators and service companies are integrating more types of technology into single applications. This trend continues to draw together disciplines that historically have not worked together such as geophysicists, drilling engineers, and production management. While this has been ongoing for a few years, it is gaining strength. The technology to address the trend is getting hardier.

A number of examples were evident at the show.

In no particular order, Halliburton's Landmark rolled out a new release of its DecisionSpace Desktop Workspace that continues to merge exploration processing and interpretation and one end, and real-time reservoir management at the other.

In a nod toward the looming shortage of experienced personnel and the expectations of recent graduates, Landmark also is working on the user experience without compromising the workflow familiar to individuals with more experience. Landmark has added the Macintosh platform to Linux and Microsoft to broaden its applicability. Following the nod toward Macintosh, Landmark is opening an "apps store" where individuals who develop an addition to the program can make it available to other users. Landmark is adding its own apps to the site, too.

Paradigm held what it called its largest-ever synchronized release with Paradigm 2011. It, too, operates on Windows and/or Linux and also improves the user interface and the way in which data is managed in the system. Paradigm pointed out that this has a set of multi-disciplinary geosciences and engineering applications. Paradigm 2011 also addresses the need for data processing speed in the face of ever larger data sets by enabling the increased use of multiple cores (both CPU and GPU).

As indicative of cross-platform cooperation, Paradigm and TerraSpark Geosciences will develop connections between Insight Earth and Paradigm's Epos infrastructure using Epos OpenGeo programming tools. Paradigm users will gain some seismic interpretation capabilities without the pitfalls of data format conversions. The connectors also will mean Paradigm's 3D interpretation workflow is open to software solutions across a multi-disciplinary framework. The OpenGeo programming toolkit allows extension of workflow to include multiple vendors.

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Sercel's new SeaRay 428 redeployable seabed seismic acquisition system.

Schlumberger released its Play-to-Prospect Risk plug-in for Petrel at the show. As the name implies, the plug-in has an integrated, petroleum-system-based assessment of key risks from play to prospect. This technology takes in geological elements such as trap, reservoir, charge, and seal and turns out chance maps. Scenarios are compared to determine play limits and to identify areas for high-grading for rapid ranking of opportunities. This all occurs with Petrel.

Schlumberger's new Play-to-Prospect Risk plug-in is complemented by its new Prestack Seismic Interpretation plug-in for Petrel. This allows analaysis of prestack gathers for better understanding of the processing effects on post-stack data, to evaluate response differences in offset traces, to make on-the-fly offset stacks for clearer partial stacks of interpretation targets, and prestack data auto-tracking.

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Kongsberg connected two of its operations to improve its eBird streamer control concept. Using Kongsberg Maritime's hydroacoustics technology, Kongsberg Seatex enhanced the eBird with the release of AcuWing for eBird. AcuWing adopts hydroacoustics with interchangeable eBird wings. The acoustics drive the positioning function while the interchangeable wings connect to the standard eBird and use the existing power and communications. Photo courtesy Kongsberg.

Hardware was not forgotten at the show. Sercel launched the next-generation SeaRay seabed seismic acquisition system, the SeaRay 428. This is a redeployable 4C product. It has three new functions: the in-sea Seabed Line Unit (SBLU) module; a long-range optical extender; and the ability to integrate unmanned recorders from satellite sites over the survey area. It can be installed without an ROV and eliminates battery management requisites.

Among the new companies at SEG was SIGMA3 which formed by acquiring FusionGeo Inc. and Prism Seismic Inc. with the support of Symphony Technology Group. It plans to build a software and service company to offer independent reservoir analysis and development planning.

Prism brings its continuous fracture modeling program that integrates geophysics, geology, petrophysics, reservoir engineering, and advanced workflow into a predictive model that shows the location, orientation, porosity, and permeability of natural fractures. Fusion offers geohazard and geopressure prediction and reservoir geophysics, and earth imaging and modeling analysis, along with oil finding skills.

IHS brought together two elements of the geophysics world. It has acquired Seismic MicroTechnology and then featured its integration of PETRA, PetraSeis, and GeoSyn software for better reservoir characterization, prospect identification, and maximum field production. PETRA visualizes and analyzes production, log, drilling, reservoir, seismic, and related data. PetraSeis does seismic interpretation and display. GeoSyn does synthetic generation, cross-plotting, AVO analysis, and 2D modeling. This integrates geologic, geophysical, and engineering data.

Statoil partners with University of Texas

Statoil and the University of Texas announced an Energy Partnership agreement whereby Statoil will provide annual funding of $1 million for five years to the school. This is Statoil's pilot university in the United States for this program. The company has similar arrangements with institutions in Norway, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands.

The agreement is directed at research into:

  • Integration of geological, geophysical, and petrophysical data in earth models
  • Trap integrity in salt basis – subsalt imaging and seal versus pore pressure challenges
  • Drainage of deepwater reservoirs – static and dynamic reservoir modes and drainage methods
  • Improved development and drainage of shale plays.

"We plan to significantly grow our activities in the United States and Canada," said Bill Maloney, executive VP for Statoil in North America. "Universities and academic institutions in North America represent important arenas for Statoil in research and competence development, both on a regional and global level."

"Statoil is a world-class energy company with a commitment to research and education, and we look forward to working with them in the years to come to develop talented young people who will become the energy leaders of tomorrow," said Scott Tinker, the director of UT's Bureau of Economic Geology. He will sit on the strategic board helping to guide the program.

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