David Pring
Country Manager
Petroleum Geo-Services (PGS)

Complementarities Between Seismic Technology Companies

Tue, 01/22/2013 - 17:22

In the Gulf of Mexico, a proportion of the hydrocarbon resources lay beneath large salt structures making it more di·cult to obtain accurate data with older exploration techniques. In 2012, Pemex stated that it would continue to focus its o†shore exploration in both shallow and deepwater, confirming the importance of integrating the newest and best technology in seismic acquisition and data processing.While Pemex is equipped with the human resources and capacity to integrate these technologies and interpret the data, much of its seismic surveying and data processing has been done through contracts with international companies. “Pemex has worked to get the most out of us. They give us each a sector of the marketplace, based on our technologic strengths,” David Pring, Country Manager Mexico at Petroleum Geo-Services (PGS) explains. “In one case, you may have a contractor that is seen as an expert in time processing; you may have another that is an expert in depth processing, and the work gets pushed accordingly.”

In the case of PGS, a Norway-based company with regional headquarters in Houston, it was its expertise in depth imaging and data processing, in addition to its successful track record and relationship with Pemex that allowed the company to capture a contract with Pemex in 2009. “A handful of contractors, five or six of us, were given an opportunity to demonstrate the technology that we have,” explains Pring. “The contracts are awarded directly based on technology patents – normally for a three-year period with a predetermined contract value. From there, a portfolio of projects is assigned to that particular contractor.”

The same year it entered into a formal contract with Pemex, PGS divested its onshore operations to focus on strengthening its leadership in marine areas in the Gulf of Mexico. “Our strength has been in depth imaging, specifically with our beam technology,” Pring says. “When we started with this beam product, our clients could not believe it. They thought that we were inventing the data, because literally, they could see the subsurface in a way that no one had seen it before.”

Seismic technology employed in marine environments continues to rapidly evolve, requiring that companies are continually researching and implementing new technological solutions. “As these technologies evolve, there is a balance between the need to apply the technology in the moment and the need to keep an eye on new technologies that are coming,” Pring adds. More than three years ago, it was timebased processing rather than advanced depth imaging that gave Pemex data on fields in the Gulf of Mexico.

The specific technology employed by PGS is known as the 3D Geostreamer, an advanced kind of wide azimuth (WAZ) or broadband seismic survey that completely eliminates “ghosts” on both the receiving and source ends. “We have more experience in broadband than anyone else,” Pring details. “We have been shooting it for almost three years, and essentially we have a unique system that allows us to produce extremely high fidelity images.”

Yet aside from its strength in broadband seismic and data processing, Pring believes that it is PGS’s human resources that have allowed the company to be a successful contractor with Pemex. “The history of data processing is that the importance of people is probably a heavier weight in the equation than technology,” he explains. “People that have established a track record over many years with Pemex have really grown to become partners in the business rather than a strict, over-the-fence contractual arrangement.”