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Identifying and responding to prioritized and pressing challenges in exploration seismology

UTIG Seminars

Identifying and responding to prioritized and pressing challenges in exploration seismology

Arthur B. Weglein
Mission-Oriented Seismic Research Program, University of Houston

Thursday, 29 January, 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Seminar Conference Room, 10100 Burnet Road, Bldg 196-ROC, Austin, Texas 78758
Ian Dalziel, UTIG

The current frontier drilling success rate in the deep water Gulf of Mexico, of one in ten, at upwards of 250 million dollars per drill, reflects and exemplifies the magnitude and significance of the challenges we face in exploration seismology. The GOM deep water drilling success rate points to the gap between our collective seismic capability today, and the level of increased effectiveness that will be needed to respond to that challenge and to move towards significantly reducing, and filling that gap.

All scientific methods and algorithms have assumptions and prerequisites. Methods are effective when their assumptions are satisfied. Challenges arise in exploration seismology when the prerequisites and assumptions behind seismic methods are not satisfied, and that can contribute to dry hole exploration drilling or locating suboptimal development wells. To our thinking, there are two ways to respond to that challenge: (1) find new and more effective ways to satisfy the requirements of current methods, and (2) develop fundamentally new methods that can deliver ( and to go beyond) what current seismic methods can provide, without requiring, for example, the prerequisites, and subsurface information that current methods frequently require to be effective. We adopt one or the other of these two approaches for different links and steps in the seismic processing chain.

Many seismic methods require subsurface information to be effective. As the industry trend moves to more remote and complex and complicated off-shore and on-shore plays that requirement for accurate subsurface information can become increasing difficult , or impossible, to satisfy. We have produced the only comprehensive and consistent strategy where every single step in the seismic processing chain, and every single seismic goal and objective, can be achieved directly and without subsurface information. Among seismic processing objectives are identifying and utilizing the reference wave-field, de-ghosting, multiple removal, depth imaging, target identification and target changes, in a static or time lapse sense, , and Q compensation without needing or knowing Q. The projects within our program address off-shore and on-shore seismic E&P processing, for marine towed streamer, OBS, and on-shore surface and subsurface( buried) measurements.

In this presentation , we will describe that overall strategy, and will present what has been delivered with stand-alone capability to-date, methods that were originally considered radical and greeted with widespread skepticism, and are now considered mainstream and conventional within the seismic processing tool-box. Equally , if not more important, we will describe significant fundamental and high priority open issues, and research opportunities, and our plans going forward.