CALGARY, Alberta, Canada, March 6, 2014 (ENS) – The newest advancement in oil exploration is an early-phase aerial technology that can see what no other technology, including the latest 3D seismic imagery, can see, allowing explorers to pinpoint untapped reservoirs and unlock new profits, cheaper and faster, writes James Burgess of Oilprice.com.
The future of oil exploration lies in new technology – from massive data-processing supercomputers to 4D seismic to early-phase airborne spy technology that can pinpoint prospective reservoirs
The next step in technology takes us off the ground and airborne, according to Jen Alic, a global intelligence and energy expert for OP Tactical, a supplier of combat-proven tactical gear.
“We’ve watched supercomputing and seismic improve for years. Our research into new airborne reservoir-pinpointing technology tells us that this is the next step in improving the bottom line in terms of exploration,” Alic told Oilprice.com.
“In particular, we see how explorers could reduce expensive 3D seismic spending because they would have a much smaller area pinpointed for potential. Companies could save tens of millions of dollars,” he said.
The new technology, developed by Calgary’s NXT Energy Solutions, has the ability to pinpoint prospective oil and gas reservoirs and to determine exactly what’s still there from a plane moving at 500 kilometers an hour at an altitude of 3,000 meters.
The Stress Field Detection, SFD, technology uses gravity to gather its oil and gas intelligence. It can tell different frequencies in the gravitational field deep underground.
Just like a stream is deflected by a big rock, SFD technology detects gravity disturbances due to subsurface stress and density variations.
Porous rock filled with fluids has a very different density than surrounding solid rocks. Gravity measurement is based on the density of materials; SFD detects subtle changes in earth’s gravitational field.
According to its developers, Stress Field Detection could save oil and gas companies up to 90 percent of their exploration cost by reducing the time spent searching for a reservoir and drilling into to it to determine whether there is actually any oil and gas there.
“Because it’s all done from the air, Stress Field Detection doesn’t need on-the-ground permitting, and it covers vast acreage very quickly. It tells explorers exactly where to do their very expensive 3D seismic, greatly reducing the time and cost of getting accurate drilling information,” NXT Energy Solutions President and CEO George Liszicasz, told Oilprice.com.
Mexico’s state-owned oil company Pemex already has put the new technology to the test both onshore and offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, and was a repeat customer in 2012.
Pemex co-authored with NXT a white paper on their initial blind-test use of the survey technology.
At first, NXT management targeted the technology to frontier areas where little seismic or well data existed. As an example, Pacific Rubiales Energy is using Stress Field Detection technology in Colombia, where the terrain, and environmental concerns, make it difficult to obtain permits and determine where best to drill.
Burgess writes, “The technology was recently contracted in the United States for unconventional plays as well.”
SFD has its limitations, NXT acknowledges. The system is not a direct hydrocarbon indicator and cannot determine exact drill locations or differentiate reservoir fluid types. It cannot define exact depth of reservoirs or distinguish the number of stacked reservoirs, unless they have unequal lateral extensions, the company says.
But the SFD system can evaluate large areas onshore and offshore quickly and cost effectively. Because it is non-invasive, the system is environmentally friendly compared to exploratory drilling.