Field dreams: putting flesh on genetic bones
Summer is a wonderful time of year. Warm days, warm nights, and the perfect time to grab the backpack and head for the field. Not for vacation, but for work, to find the analogs that put flesh on the bones of the genetic units defined by seismic stratigraphy. It is the perfect time to look in detail at those features you cannot see with seismic or well logs.
Okay, maybe you will have to take some personal time to reacquaint yourself with the earth and its processes. If your company does not recognize the value of helping you keep a firm grasp on the concepts of units-scale and depositional time, be sure you keep yourself professionally tuned by getting to the field. The professional societies have organized field programs to help, but you can take the family on personal outings with a little planning. Here are a few examples as food for thought:
- Coasts: The beach is a perfect place for studying barrier islands and it is informal. Among the many processes and sediment types to consider are lagoons, clay/sand interfingerings, storm cuts, sea current processes, and dune development. Let us also remember biomarkers: shells, sea grasses, and other future fossils.
- Rivers: Channel processes are the most obvious: thalweg, cutbanks, sandbars, oxbows, floodplains, and terraces. All these can be easily found and explored. Review grain size distribution patterns. Think of well placement and drainage areas. Stacked pays, braided streams, outwash fans and fanglomerates (depending on the locale) are all potential topics for your active consideration.
- Mountains: The possibilities are practically endless since most ranges have portions that were part of the seabed at an earlier time. Larger genetic units are exposed over wide areas (take the family on a long hike). Tectonic processes occur in the sea as well as on the land. Seek out thrust faults, fractured exposures, overlapping sections. Look for detached blocks, fensters (salt basin pull-aparts!), folded and crumpled sections (chaotic zones?).
Time away from the pressure of the working world is time to refresh the spirit and reacquaint one's self with the reasons we entered this exciting geoscience profession. Take some time to broaden your horizon, to defocus/refocus on the wonder of the natural world.
GPS accuracy providing higher seismic accuracy
Geoscience gained higher accuracy in global positioning this year when the US Air Force was ordered to turn off a scrambling device on its satellites. In May, the higher accuracy of the 24 global positioning satellites (GPS) was opened to the civilian market, permitting much more accurate location values. The satellites accuracy is controlled by their onboard atomic clocks, which synchronize them. Surface locations will now be accurate to within 10 meters, a 10-fold improvement. This is a significant gain for the offshore oil and gas business. Tighter seismic navigation fixes, more accurate well spots, and better locations for fixed structures will allow offshore elements to be better placed and serviced.
Petroleum Geo-Services began a detailed 3D reservoir-monitoring program over Zakum Field, offshore Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. This initial survey is intended as a baseline for future time-lapse studies for production and recovery optimization of the field. The survey will cover 1,500 sq km and will be completed in the fall of 2001. "Increasing focus on reservoir seismic studies is now a key trend in the spending patterns of both major and national oil companies," said Bjarte Bruhein, President and COO for PGS.
Wood Mackenzie, a division of Deutsche Bank AG, has created a new web-based service, which allows its clients to access its research reports on demand. The new service, energyvision, uses a dynamic and interactive approach to reach more than 20,000 pages of detailed analysis for more than 60 countries.
Veritas DGC Inc is completing the gathering of a 2,200 sq km survey in the South Flemish Pass offshore Newfoundland for Chevron Canada Resources and its partners PetroCan-ada, Mobil Oil Canada Ltd., and Norsk Hydro Canada Oil & Gas. The survey is being acquired by the SRV Veritas Viking II using dual source arrays and eight, 5,000 meter streamers.
Petroleum Geo-Services ASA (PGS) is gathering a large 3D multi-client survey over the Dønna Terrace in the deepwater of offshore mid-Norway. The survey will cover 2,300 sq km and be collected by towing a single source and 12 streamers, each 5,100 meters in length. The Ramform Valiant will gather the data with completion planned for September.
Training the nose
GMD's Virtual Environment Research Division has extended its software framework, Avango, to include olfactory elements. Scent controllers (currently 12 scents) extend the visual immersion experience by allowing ambient scents as well as scents bound to objects or events. The current system has a limited range of 3-5 meters and a short cycle time of 6-10 sec, which is suitable for a visualization theater. Most scents clear the immersion area within 20 sec. This opens multiple possibilities for training programs in visualization centers that could benefit by adding an olfactory element; especially safety and health-related training. In the right circumstances, scent could also be used to quickly identify subtle hydrocarbon indicators when linked to complex multi-attribute seismic analysis.
Fakespace Systems, Inc. has developed the Passive Stereo WorkWalltrademark for 3D visualization. The new system is a 6-ft by 7 1/2-ft rear projection display with two projectors. The projectors provide slightly different images for each eye and are designed to work with polarized glasses rather than the more common active-shutter glasses. Polarized glasses reduce the fatigue factor for interpreters allowing them to work in the immersive environment for longer periods. The system is designed for smaller spaces and does not require a dedicated projection room and related support equipment.