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Seismic Solutions for Mature Fields

Robin Ellis - Sercel
Vice President Sales & Marketing


Wed, 01/25/2012 - 16:23

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Q: What are the main global trends in high-tech integrated equipment for onshore hydrocarbon exploration and down-hole environments?

A: In onshore projects, one main trend is the increasingly high density of channels required on projects with a corresponding high channel count. Sercel’s Giga Transverse is designed to handle 100,000 live channels in real-time via a single transverse cable. For projects requiring channels in excess of that number, it is possible to deploy multiple GIGA transverses and pave the way for acquisitions of up to one million channels in real-time. A tender in the Middle East is presently calling for 120,000 live channels.

Three-component systems provide high-calibre images in areas where the acquisition of both P (vertical component) and S (horizontal component) waves allows for superior subsurface definition. Sercel’s DSU3 is a state-of-the-art micro mechanical electrical systems (MEMS) accelerometer-based sensor unit.

Cable-free systems provide greater flexibility in complex areas where cable deployment can slow production and constitute an HSE risk. Sercel’s UNITE system allows data to be “harvested” wirelessly from field station units in real-time or close to real-time from moving vehicles, even helicopters. This means that quality control need not be sacrificed. Sercel provides optimal flexibility by designing both types of systems so that cable and cable-free equipment can be mixed seamlessly in the same project.

In down-hole environments, the demand for VSP tool levels is increasing and Sercel’s MAXIWAVE can provide up to 100 levels of 3-C acquisition at fast sample rates, using standard wirelines, for super high resolution 3D VSPs. The SLIMWAVE system can be equipped with a tractor device for deployment in horizontal wells and has proven itself as an excellent high frequency acquisition tool suitable for shale oil and gas frack monitoring surveys.

Q: How do in-house R&D work and field experience interact throughout Sercel’s innovation process?

department are possible because we are constantly listening to our clients in an effort to understand their needs. We also have several very experienced field engineers who hold key positions that form a link between the field and the design lab. Their work is dedicated to ensuring that the products we produce meet the requirements of the industry both present and future.

Q: What are the main contributions that Sercel has made to the advancement of seismic data collection in the Mexican oil and gas industry in recent years?

A: Sercel has essentially been the supplier of choice for the contractors in Mexico in recent years. During that time we have introduced: wireless seismic with Comesa’s use of the UNITE system in highly populated areas of Tabasco where fielding cable systems with the channel density required by area geophysicists and interpreters had become increasingly diffcult; three-component surveys with Comesa’s use of 428XL DSU3 in areas of Veracruz state where acquisition of both P and S wave data allows illumination of previously undefined structures; and high production 3D wide azimuth marine seismic through the use of CGGVeritas’ Seal 428 & NAUTILUS-equipped vessels Vega and Vanquish. We also implemented high production slip sweep vibroseis with Geokinetic’s vibrators equipped with VE464 vibrator electronics in Tamaulipas state. VE464 facilitates the very latest production techniques that allow multiple vibrators to vibrate simultaneously thus allowing order of magnitude increases in production without sacrificing data quality.

Q: Mexico is home to Sercel’s first commercial project utilizing its DSUGPS technology, working with Comesa to supply 9,250 DSUGPS units. How did this project come about and why was Mexico selected as the first country in which the technology would be applied?

A: The use of DSU3 for three-component surveys dates back some eight or nine years. The introduction of DSUGPS, the latest of several generations of the device, happily coincided with a requirement for Comesa to shoot 3D-3C surveys in areas of southern Veracruz state. Although DSU3 is well known for its ability to record high-fidelity broadband data, it was the DSUGPS’added capability to record each receiver’s position and azimuthal orientation to a high degree of accuracy that really appealed to Comesa.

Sercel and Comesa signed a favoured customer/technology partnership agreement in 2007 and the initial field testing and subsequent commercial deployment of the new system fit perfectly within the accord’s parameters.

Q: What are the technical advantages to satellitepositioned DSUGPS sensor technology? How does it compare to competing technologies in terms of accuracy, performance in challenging terrain, and cost-effectiveness?

A: DSUGPS’ ability to record sensor positioning with sub-metre accuracy and sensor azimuthal orientation to within three degrees is truly unique in the industry. Sensor positioning and orientation accuracy are of course critical to successful seismic data processing and the resulting reservoir imaging. However, an added advantage of this inherent capability is the ability to reduce a crew’s survey effort and expenditure because the seismic data acquisition system itself essentially does the final sensor position surveying automatically.

Q: To what extent did DSUGPS technology live up to the client’s expectations in the first project?

A: Comesa successfully completed its first 3D-3C survey using DSUGPS earlier this year and a second large survey is underway. The system has performed very satisfactorily,

A: Improvements and innovations from our R&D processing data accurately without problems identifying the sensor location or azimuth.

Q: Pemex’s current exploration cycle has a strong focus on offshore, and particularly deepwater, seismic data acquisition. What is your outlook for Mexico’s onshore, transition zone, and shallow water market given that an estimated 40% of Mexico’s remaining reserves are onshore?

A: The future for deepwater exploration in Mexico of course holds great promise with the possibility that major fields are still to be found. For Mexico, the fact remains that the cost to develop these fields and the delivery infrastructure required will be very great indeed. Even the best estimates suggest that production from the deep offshore will not come online for quite a number of years.

In the meantime, I fully expect that Pemex will apply the latest technologies, such as those we have just discussed, to provide a better understanding of mature shallow offshore and mature onshore fields in order to maximize remaining production.

As in many other areas of the world, attention in Mexico is now turning towards shale gas and oil exploitation. Given the experience gained from the use of our equipment on US shale frack monitoring projects, Sercel stands ready with the tools necessary for the development of that exciting new arena.

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