A continued reduction in upstream project costs is essential, if major projects are to be competitive and gain investment approval in a "lower for longer" oil price market. Highlighting that topic, OTC paper 27949 by Sandeep Khurana and four coauthors was presented and discussed at a panel session on 2 May at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston. The session's title was that of the paper, "Bringing Upstream Projects to Final Investment Decision [FID]." Khurana, senior manager at Granherne--a KBR company; and coauthor Kassia Yanosek, associate partner at McKinsey and Company, gave introductory remarks. Khurana noted that 52 projects were sanctioned in the United States Gulf of Mexico (GOM) from 1993–2015, and their water depth and complexity continued to increase regardless of the oil price.
Can Mexico be the catalyst that will lead a deepwater renaissance for the oil and gas industry? Six panelists at a 4 May session at the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston gave a very positive, hopeful view of the potential for deepwater growth there and--as a best case--a renaissance. The panelists are all directly involved with the expanding international opportunities in the Mexican upstream sector. "There is a big opportunity sign pointing toward Mexico; Mexico is open for business," said Helge Haldorsen, director general of Statoil Mexico and former 2015 SPE president. He described Mexico's 2013 energy reform as "a tremendous initiative and a bold vision" and said the country's four bid rounds for license acreage "have all been transparent" with more rounds to come.
Emerson announced that it would acquire Paradigm, a well-known provider of oil and gas software, for $510 million. The acquisition will expand the company's Roxar software business to create an "end-to-end E&P software portfolio with offerings spanning seismic processing and interpretation to production modeling," the company said. "This acquisition is a significant technology investment that meets our customers' growing demand for an independent, global provider of E&P software solutions," said Emerson Chairman and Chief Executive Officer David N. Farr. "Paradigm broadens our leadership in the upstream oil and gas market by adding a range of subsurface software tools that complement our growing automation solutions portfolio." Paradigm, which has headquarters in Houston, has more than 500 employees globally.
Fugro signed an agreement to sell its multiclient data library to Norwegian seismic specialist Spectrum for approximately USD 115 million. The library consists of high-quality seismic data in support of oil and gas exploration. The database contains approximately 1.6 million km of 2D seismic data and more than 140,000 km2 of 3D data, with a focus on Australia and Norway.
Newly developed ambient seismic imaging methods provide valuable information throughout the life cycle of an unconventional field. Methods developed by Global Geophysical Services enable new insights for exploration, development planning, fracture and refracture design, reservoir management, production forecasting, and reserves estimation. Ambient seismic imaging has also been used to monitor conventional reservoirs, waterfloods, CO2 sequestration, mine stability, and water influx into mines. Additional applications include geothermal systems and induced seismicity monitoring. Many assume that the term "ambient seismic" (imaging artificial or natural seismic emissions) is synonymous with "microseismic" (imaging earthquakes with a magnitude 0, i.e., microearthquakes or MEQs).
The pace of a seismic survey can be measured by the number of shots taken per day. Huge onshore surveys have shown that allowing 10 or more sound sources working at the same time without any coordination can drastically reduce the time needed to gather data over a large area, and get better data as well. "One of the biggest surprises is we have gotten almost universally better data from our simultaneous source surveys," said Craig Beasley, a Schlumberger Fellow and chief geophysicist at WesternGeco. More data are gathered from more angles for a more accurate picture of what is below, said Beasley, who explained that one flashlight can help you see in a dark basement, but it is better with two and more is better. Now multiple sound source surveys began moving offshore 3 years ago.
From time to time, I am asked to address general audiences. The mission is to describe what we do in the seismic business. Typically, the first slide I show is a prenatal ultrasound display of my daughter. I explain that using reflected sound waves to create such an image is precisely what we do with the Earth. The world's first reflection seismic field tests were conducted near Oklahoma City in 1921, and, ever since then, the industry has endeavored to improve that seismic imaging process.
In the Permian Wolfcamp shale formation in west Texas, density fields of microseismic events were mapped in four dimensions and variations were noted in the geometry of the hydraulic stimulation as well as in the development of pressure away from the perforations. In addition to aiding well-spacing decisions, these data were used to study individual-well geometries and compare variations in the microseismic response between adjacent wells. The data sets demonstrate that high- fidelity microseismic data can be acquired by use of downhole tractored and multiobservational well-imaging techniques to understand stimulations and the stress fields better as indicated by microseismic data. The data are called high-fidelity because, in general, they are excellent data that are consistent and conform to standard understandings of stimulations. Beyond the robustness in event counts, the data typically have a high signal/noise ratio with high-quality waveforms for picking and consistent hodograms across the tools within the array.
Seismic surveys are created using bursts of acoustic energy that are referred to as "marine sound, or noise, depending on your perspective." With that thought, John Young, director of the sound business line for CSA Ocean Sciences, introduced a recent panel discussion that included seismic innovators working on new sound sources designed to produce better subsurface images as well as scientists and regulators concerned about the environmental impact of that noise. At that session and others at the recent annual meeting of the Society of Exploration Geophysicists (SEG), there was discussion about multiple ways to move away from the intense pulses of acoustic energy produced by air guns. The industry standard emits both useful sound for seismic imaging and higher-frequency noise that dissipates in the ground. Their goal is to "de-risk" vibrator technology, said Mike Jenkerson, geophysical advisor for marine seismic at Exxon Mobil, who represented the Marine Vibrator Joint Industry Project (JIP) at the conference.
The oil and gas industry uses some of the most cutting-edge technology in the world. Who is at the forefront of these technical developments? What does it take to start your own company? How do you stay on top of technical developments in the industry? In this article, we interview a young and a seasoned professional who have both started companies featuring technologies that are pushing our industry forward.