Two small seismic companies, on opposite sides of ‘the pond,’ have benefited from different degrees of government largesse with the award of research grants for new seismic methods. The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Advanced Technology Program (ATP), has awarded $2 million to California-based 3DGeo Development to ‘estimate the acoustic velocity in subsurface rocks’ and to provide ‘more accurate images in seismic surveying.’
3DGeo president Dimitri Bevc said, ‘Nobody has yet used wave-equation calculations to determine acoustic wave velocity models. With the new funding from NIST ATP, 3DGeo will implement a new automated data analysis technique to reduce human expert time required in initial propagation velocity calculations, and we will develop an improved technique to model migration velocity using the actual wave equation.’
The UK Industry Technology Facilitator (ITF) in its 2004 report revealed that it had supported some 28 technologies to the prototype or commercial product stage. Principal themes for 2004 were maximizing brownfield production and geomechanics.
The ITF’s key technology theme for 2005 will be ‘sustaining and developing production’. This embraces operational effectiveness, maximizing production and accessing stranded reserves. New projects are being established to address earth modeling, scale removal, data management and well intervention.
One new project, being undertaken by Fortkey Ltd., involves the development and use of ‘novel signals’ for improved seismic resolution. The researchers are developing a technique based on the use of multiple chirp signals. According to the ITF’s blurb, ‘these types of signals occur frequently in nature and have greater resolution capability than their bandwidth suggests*’. This potential for resolution improvement is also being ‘pursued in the medical and defence sectors’.
Another project, dubbed ‘Sinbad’ and undertaken by the University of British Columbia, aims to apply ‘non-linear estimation techniques’ to seismic imaging, inversion and processing. Replacing conventional linear inversion ‘will enable substantial improvements in image quality and resolution.’ Apparently, comparable techniques have been used to achieve improvements in image processing and medical imaging.
* Chirps also ‘occur’ where a vibrator’s baseplate meets the road!
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