Hydrocarbon Smart Detection


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Since the last century conventional airborne gravity and magnetic data have been widely used in hydrocarbons exploration from regional to basin scale mapping. In complex geological areas, the integrated interpretation of potential fields data with other geophysical and geological information can determine the sedimentary section thickness, basement configuration, geometry, and distribution of intrusive intra-sedimentary volcanics, carbonates platforms/pinnacle reefs, salt structures, and mud diapirs.

Advances in instrumentation, software and processing techniques, including the deployment of the Airborne Gravity Gradiometry (AGG), have provided significant improvements in spatial resolution and sensitivity that allows mapping paleochannels and other stratigraphic features, lithologies and structures in fold-thrust belts, where the seismic imaging is extremely challenging, and identify shallow and small targets in the onshore and coastal transition zones.

The use of Airborne Gravity Gradiometry (AGG) for oil and gas exploration has expanded significantly in the last two decades, particularly in frontier areas. In some geological environments the use of this technology has become an essential tool and has been given the credit for some of the most important discoveries of the last decade. The ability of the AGG technology to cover very large areas in a short period of time has allowed explorers to optimize the amount of seismic acquisition prior to drilling while significantly shortening the exploration cycle. In frontier exploration the use of AGG remains an essential component of exploration programmes and has almost completely replaced conventional gravity acquisition.

Due to the gradual shift from frontier exploration to near-field exploration in mature basins, the focus has moved from mapping targets and delivering reliable geological models to supporting planning and design drilling campaigns. Legacy seismic reprocessing and the use of cost-efficient non-seismic geophysical techniques are considered as good base scenario to mitigate the geological risk.

Airborne Gravity Gradiometry (AGG) data can cover the 2D seismic data gaps, reducing the ambiguity the sub-surface interpretation. FALCON® AGG is a suitable solution to optimize the prospecting operations, maximizing the 3D seismic survey investment.

Basement, volcanics and intrusives well-imaged with Magnetics (free with FALCON® AGG surveys). TMI (left) and FALCON® vertical gravity gradient (GDD) (right).
FALCON® vertical gravity gradient (GDD) imaging carbonate reservoirs.
FALCON® GDD Vertical Gradient and its horizontal derivative allows exploration geophysicists to segregate salt-prone areas, as well as to identify the geometry and relative thickness of the salt walls and the near-surface cuvettes filled with low velocity/low density deposits in Mutamba Basin, Gabon (Bain et al., 2013).
Full Spectrum FALCON® AGG data superimposed to land gravity stations onshore (transition zone in Otway Basin, SW Australia). The survey was acquired as part of the “Victoria Gas Program”.

Multiphysics for the Near Surface

Quantitative multiphysics approach integrating (Airborne Electromagnetics) AEM techniques provide competitive solutions to improve seismic imaging by:

  • Accurately mapping shallow faults.
  • Characterizing velocity anomalies from near surface heterogeneities.
  • Velocity modeling using resistivity.
  • Increasing resolution of the permafrost models.
Resistivity derived velocity model includes more detail. Tomography (left) and resistivity (right) velocity inversions that would be hidden to refraction tomography​.
Comparison between tomographic derived statics (left) and AEM derived statics (right). The velocity model was computed from the AEM resistivity data was used to create a statics correction model using the same base of weathering and replacement velocity as used in the conventional refraction tomographic statics computation.​ (left) and resistivity (right) velocity inversions that would be hidden to refraction tomography​.
HELITEM® resistivity data resolving overburden and near surface heterogeneities of the permafrost in Alaska.

Airborne Electromagnetics (AEM) has demonstrated to improve sub-surface magneto-telluric and seismic imaging as well as to directly detect and image the resistivity structure.

Right: Apparent resistivity derived from the 500 Hz AMT invariant mode (point represent the location of AMT sounding. Left: HELITEM®.
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