ATTN: UH, UT, Rice, and TX A&M Students
For the first time IAGC (International Association of Geophysical Contractors) will host exploration geophysics students from Rice, Texas A&M, the University of Houston, and the University of Texas at Austin. This is a unique opportunity for students to get an inside look at the geophysical industry.
Interested students should contact Angela Verzal at firstname.lastname@example.org to register free of charge. Students are asked to submit a resume along with their registration request email. Visitors will be hosted by participating IAGC member companies, some of which include:
IAGC is pleased to announce that the Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management – Mr. Tommy P. Beaudreau – has again agreed to serve as keynote speaker at the 42nd IAGC Annual Membership Meeting to be held on 19 February 2013 at the Norris Conference Center in Houston, Texas USA.
For more information on Mr. Beaudreau, please click here.
Newly elected SEG (Society of Exporation Geophysics) President & Director of Geophsics – Apache Corp, David Monk will discuss SEG’s strategic vision in the current global energy business environment
The Agenda for this year’s Annual Meeting will include a financial perspective by John Olaisen, Investment Research Analyst with ABG Sundal Collier out of Oslo, Norway, a panel session comprised of geophysical industry executives who will offer their perspective on the state of the geophysical industry today, the obstacles we face, and their outlook going forward. We will also present the following sessions focusing on:
- Updating IAGC Contracting Principles & Guidance
- Subsurface Imaging Challenges – From the Processing and Data Management Perspective
- The Challenges of Security in Geophysical Operations
- Environmental Challenges of Seismic Surveys
***Dress is business casual
***Breakfast and lunch will be served
***Student Registration will be very limited and is on a first come first serve basis
***Registration is free for qualified students, however, any travel related arrangements and expenses are solely the responsibility of each student
IAGC is the international trade association representing the industry that provides geophysical services (geophysical data acquisition, seismic data ownership and licensing, geophysical data processing and interpretation, and associated service and product providers) to the oil and gas industry.
An industry safety clearinghouse formed after the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill is about to kick off a program for certifying outside auditors that the government soon may require to examine offshore operators’ safety plans.
Charlie Williams, executive director of the Houston, TX-based Center for Offshore Safety, said at a meeting with the Houston Chronicle editorial board that regulators now allow internal auditors to meet requirements for independent audits of company programs called Safety and Environmental Management Systems.
Proposed federal requirements, however, would require that auditors outside of an offshore company must sign off on its safety systems. Williams said the regulatory change was under way before the April 20, 2010 blowout of BP’s Macondo well.
The disaster, however, led to new focus on industry dangers and to the creation of the Center for Offshore Safety, which is charged with developing auditor procedures and certifying auditors.
Williams, a former top Shell scientist, said the audits will help companies with process safety–the management of overall safety systems–as distinct from practices specifically aimed at preventing individual worker injuries.
A presidential commission that investigated the Macondo accident recommended the industry initiative that led to the Center for Offshore Safety. The American Petroleum Institute, an industry advocacy group that has developed recommended practices for safety systems, requires that its members also join the Center, which is supported by dues.
API’s recommended practices form the basis for Safety and Environmental Management Systems now required by the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, and which the Safety Center now helps companies develop.
Elements of the systems include hazards analysis, mechanical integrity and incident investigations.
Williams said established entities such as the American Bureau of Shipping, which develops standards for vessels and marine structures, and and Det Norske Veritas, a risk management firm, probably will provide the first ranks of these independent offshore safety auditors.
And going forward, he sees a growth industry. “There’s a tremendous opportunity to develop auditors to do this,” Williams said.
He also emphasized that process safety is an ongoing effort that requires a sense of “constant unease” that encourages caution.
“You can’t say ‘I’ll work real hard on safety today’ and tomorrow I’ll be safe,” Williams said.
For your Friday reading pleasure, Geophysics Rocks! is happy to recommend a series of articles in Geo Expro magazine, authored by Martin Landrø, professor in Applied Geophysics at NTNU, Trondheim, Norway and Lasse Amundsen, adjunct professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and at the University of Houston, Texas.
These articles are a collection on Marine Seismic Sources and discuss everything from salient points on marine air-gun arrays and their radiation characteristics to understanding how human-generated sounds affect fish. In all, there are eight articles.
A new DNA analysis of rocky soils in the martian-like landscape on some volcanoes in South America has revealed a handful of bacteria, fungi, and other rudimentary organisms, called archaea, which seem to have a different way of converting energy than their cousins elsewhere in the world.
“We haven’t formally identified or characterized the species,” said Dr Ryan Lynch, a microbiologist with the University of Colorado in Boulder who is one of the authors of the discovery, “But these are very different than anything else that has been cultured. Genetically, they’re at least 5 percent different than anything else in the DNA database of 2.5 million sequences.”
Life gets little encouragement on the incredibly dry slopes of the tallest volcanoes in the Atacama region, where Lynch’s co-author, University of Colorado microbiologist Dr Steven Schmidt, collected soil samples. Much of the sparse snow that falls on the terrain sublimates back to the atmosphere soon after it hits the ground, and the soil is so depleted of nutrients that nitrogen levels in the scientists’ samples were below detection limits. Ultraviolet radiation in this high-altitude environment can be twice as intense as in a low-elevation desert. And, while the researchers were on site, temperatures dropped to -10 degrees Celsius (14 degrees Fahrenheit) one night, and spiked to 56° C (133° F) the next day.
How the newfound organisms survive under such circumstances remains a mystery. Although Dr. Lynch, Dr. Schmidt and their colleagues looked for genes known to be involved in photosynthesis and peered into the cells using fluorescent techniques to look for chlorophyll, the scientists couldn’t find any evidence that the microbes were photosynthetic.
Instead, they think the microbes might slowly convert energy by means of chemical reactions that extract energy and carbon from wisps of gases such as carbon monoxide and dimethyl sulfide that blow into the desolate mountain area. “The process wouldn’t give the bugs a high energy yield,” Dr Lynch said, “But it could be enough as it adds up over time.”
While normal soil has thousands of microbial species represented in just a gram of soil, and garden soils even more, remarkably few species have made their home in the barren Atacama mountain soil, the new research suggests. The findings will be published in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences.
“To find a community dominated by less than 20 species – that’s pretty amazing for a soil microbiologist,” Dr Schmidt said. “It’s mostly due to the lack of water, we think. Without water, you’re not going to develop a complex community.”
“Overall, there was a good bit lower diversity in the Atacama samples than you would find in most soils, including other mountainous mineral soils,” Dr Lynch added. “That makes the Atacama microbes very unusual. They probably had to adapt to the extremely harsh environment, or may have evolved in different directions than similar organisms elsewhere due to long-term geographic isolation.”
Dr Schmidt’s lab, along with others, is studying how microorganisms are dispersed — that is, how they travel from one site to another. There’s evidence that one common method of microbe transport is through the air – they’re caught up in winds, sucked up into clouds, form rain droplets, and then fall back to the ground somewhere else as precipitation. But on mountains like Volcán Llullaillaco and Volcán Socompa, the high ultraviolet radiation and extreme temperatures make the landscape inhospitable to outside microbes.
When Po Chen talks about lives lost in recent, major seismic events — such as the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan, China, and the 2011 tsunami off the coast of Japan — he slowly shakes his head.
“I started to study seismology as an undergraduate student in China, where there are very high seismic hazards,” says Chen, a University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources associate professor of geology and geophysics. “Buildings are very poorly constructed there. When earthquakes occur, a lot of damage happens, and lots of people die.”
The Sichuan quake claimed about 70,000 lives, while the Japan tsunami killed about 19,000. The Japan disaster also raised serious questions about nuclear safety in that country after damage to the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant set off a meltdown of the nuclear reactor there.
Chen is conducting research he hopes will provide precious seconds or maybe minutes to improve earthquake warning systems, which could be the difference in saving thousands of lives. And the NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputing Center will play a key role.
Specifically, the supercomputer will provide more detailed imaging of Chen’s computer models of underground seismic activity — imaging that may provide clues that could lead to earlier warnings of seismic activity.
State-of-the-art earthquake warning systems, such as those in Japan, provide information only “a few seconds” ahead of seismic events, he says. The warning time depends on how far away you are from the epicenter.
“If you are far away from the epicenter, you may have more time. If you are closer to the epicenter, there may be cases the strong shaking comes ahead of any warning,” he explains.
“The supercomputer will give me a much better image of the underground structure to give me a better prediction of seismic waves,” Chen says. “We can do our best to better prepare and understand when seismic activity is highest. For those regions with very high seismic hazards, you can build stronger buildings.”
Such specific detail might have helped victims of the Japan tsunami move to higher ground earlier. While people there heard the warning sirens, they did not react quickly because they assumed the large seawall built to hold back tsunamis would, as it had in the past, be effective, Chen says.
“This time, the water wave was much higher. The wall didn’t really have an effect,” Chen says. “If they had this kind of [computer] accuracy, more lives may have been saved.”
While a doctoral student at the University of Southern California, Chen felt a few earthquakes himself in Los Angeles. The most serious registered a fairly mild magnitude of 4.5, he says. He was luckier than some.
“One of my graduate students had family members and friends die in Sichuan,” Chen says. “It’s a realistic hazard. It motivates us to work on these programs.”
Drilling companies operating in Pennsylvania appear to be doing more with less.
Even as the amount of natural gas produced in the Keystone State quadrupled between 2009 and 2011, the number of actual wells fell as drillers used new technology to extract more gas from a single rig, according to a new study by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
The development of more efficient horizontal drilling technology severely slowed the number of vertical wells drilled between 2009 and 2011, a period that represents a time when the drilling boom became visible above the Marcellus Shale natural gas formation. At the same time, falling commodity prices have forced companies to slow activity so far this year.
For decades, vertical wells were drilled straight through the ground across Pennsylvania to extract oil and natural gas. The more recent use of horizontal drilling technology, which allows a drill to turn and run parallel to the shale rock, has allowed companies to more effectively drill in regions that once weren’t economically viable.
Vertical wells produced little output compared to horizontal wells because the latter can pull gas from a larger part of the shale rock, said John Staub, an exploration and production analyst at EIA.
Prior to 2009, thousands of vertical — or “conventional” — wells across Pennsylvania produced about 400 million to 500 million cubic feet of gas per day, according to the study.
Two years later, with the boom in full swing and horizontal drilling the common technique, the state produced about 3.5 billion cubic feet per day.
The preference for horizontal drills was starkly seen in 2011: almost 2,000 new horizontal wells were drilled, whereas only about 500 vertical wells were started.
The study also offered some insight into drilling trends for 2012. Low natural gas prices — and the lure of more lucrative gas in Ohio — have already prompted a year-over-year slowdown in the number of Pennsylvania rigs.
In the first quarter of 2012, drilling started on 618 new gas wells, down from the 700 seen during the same period last year.
New reservoir engineering observations have led to the conclusion that time-lapse geophysics must be based on the understanding of the physics of fluid-filled, parallel, compliant, fractures/micro-cracks, dilating or compacting as the reservoir is produced.
When a reservoir, any reservoir, is put under production, fluid compositions change, for example oil may be partially replaced by water or gas, gas may be expelled from oil, and so on.
Of additional significance is the fact that fluid pressures drop, changing the internal stresses on the reservoir rock.
Several studies have shown that the hydraulic conductivities of faults and fractures in reservoirs can be influenced by geomechanical perturbations due to production operations.
It is reasonable to anticipate that such dynamic permeabilities will be manifest as changes in flow-rates at production and injection wells.
These reservoir engineering observations lead to the conclusion that time-lapse geophysics (observations of any reservoirs over time) must be based on the understanding of the physics of fluid-filled, parallel, compliant, fractures/micro-cracks, dilating or compacting as the reservoir is produced.
This physics has been documented over many years, based on understanding and observing the effects of closely-spaced stress-aligned fluid-saturated microcracks on seismic shear-wave splitting (SWS) in the crust and upper mantle.
Critically, seismic observations of P-wave propagation and P-waves are relatively insensitive to fluid-saturated microcracks, whereas SWS is wholly determined by parallel microcracks and can be measured with first-order accuracy.
Thus SWS is a second-order quantity (small changes in shear-wave velocities) that can be read with first-order accuracy- thus there is tremendous resolution.
Consequently, there are significant implications for geophysical, especially seismic, monitoring of reservoir dynamics.
We can say that conventional 4D seismic, towed streamer surveys for example, only discern changes in P-wave reflectivity and thus offer at best an incomplete view of reservoir dynamics, one that is unquantifiable, allowing only empirical comparisons.
Secondly, a complete, quantifiable, view of reservoir dynamics requires 3C seismic acquisition (and strengthens the case for permanent installations).
Is it time for a new geophysics?
Many people don’t realize that the oil and gas industry is one of the safest in the world. That’s why it’s important to recognize that Finding Petroleum not only conducted an offshore safety conference on May 22nd, but that videos from that conference are now available online.
The presentations include:
Martin Shaw, managing director Marine Operations and Assurance Management Solutions Ltd and ex VP technical, fleet manager and vetting service manager, BP Shipping, talking about the dangers of “procedure overload” and how it can be mitigated.
Taf Powell, Adviser, Offshore Regulation with the European Commission and ex director of HSE’s Offshore Division, speaking about the European Commissions plans and regulating offshore safety across Europe.
Steve Prast – Founder and Managing Partner of EOS Solutions, speaking about how to use 3D simulation models, based on real engineering drawings, for training and testing how real people would behave in a specific situation such as a rig evacuation, and possible injuries which might occur.
Mike Hogan, senior consultant with Link Associates and ex head of global PR with Shell, talking about how staff can be better prepared for a crisis, particularly in dealing with journalists, and why telling the truth is always the best idea.
Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR), or increasing the amount of crude oil that can be extracted from an oil field is something that Shell believes won’t be an afterthought in the future. Reservoir engineers will plan for EOR covering the entire lifecycle of a field.
An article in OilVoice this week details Shell’s belief that it may be possible to increase recovery on a typical reservoir to as high as 70 per cent, using a mixture of advanced enhanced oil recovery techniques, together with careful field management.
“Historically, EOR was what you thought about when there was nothing else to do,” said Val Brock, Manager Improved Oil Recovery (IOR) and Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) with Shell.
“But we are really pushing a lifecycle view of a field – where you plan from the start how you will keep the field running.”
In the future, production from an oilfield could be enhanced using a range of different technologies during its lifetime. This mature field management can also include smart (digital) surveillance, and more sophisticated wells and reservoir management.
“It’s about how we manage a flood overall, but we also want to get to a molecular scale of understanding what is happening between the brine, the oil, and the rock so we can do that even better,’ he said. You will also need systems which can manage the enormous amounts of data, something which is currently proving very difficult,” Brock said.
“There’s no one answer. Every reservoir has a unique challenge. EOR can be the right answer, provided it’s the right EOR.”
Nigeria expects to renew onshore oil licenses with U.S. firm Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell by June, its oil minister said on Tuesday, following Exxon Mobil’s renewal in February worth trillions of dollars.
Shell, the biggest operator in Nigeria, has onshore assets that can produce 1 million barrels of crude oil per day. It is partnered in these projects by Nigeria’s state-oil firm NNPC, Italy’s Eni and France’s Total.
“In order to show our commitment to a vibrant upstream sector … we have started the renewal of leases in good faith … renewals with Chevron and Shell are expected to be concluded by June at the latest,” Diezani Alison-Madueke said in the capital Abuja.
Several onshore drilling licenses that expired as far back as 2008 have been in negotiations between foreign oil majors, Nigeria’s state-oil firm and government for years.
Exxon signed 20-year oil license renewals on Nigerian assets producing around 550,000 barrels per day in February.
The Nigerian government has been reluctant to sign new deals or renew old ones until the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), which is likely to increase royalties and taxes, becomes law.