• 5 hours Conflicting News Spurs Doubt On Aramco IPO
  • 7 hours Exxon Starts Production At New Refinery In Texas
  • 8 hours Iraq Asks BP To Redevelop Kirkuk Oil Fields
  • 1 day Oil Prices Rise After U.S. API Reports Strong Crude Inventory Draw
  • 1 day Oil Gains Spur Growth In Canada’s Oil Cities
  • 1 day China To Take 5% Of Rosneft’s Output In New Deal
  • 1 day UAE Oil Giant Seeks Partnership For Possible IPO
  • 1 day Planting Trees Could Cut Emissions As Much As Quitting Oil
  • 1 day VW Fails To Secure Critical Commodity For EVs
  • 1 day Enbridge Pipeline Expansion Finally Approved
  • 1 day Iraqi Forces Seize Control Of North Oil Co Fields In Kirkuk
  • 1 day OPEC Oil Deal Compliance Falls To 86%
  • 2 days U.S. Oil Production To Increase in November As Rig Count Falls
  • 2 days Gazprom Neft Unhappy With OPEC-Russia Production Cut Deal
  • 2 days Disputed Venezuelan Vote Could Lead To More Sanctions, Clashes
  • 2 days EU Urges U.S. Congress To Protect Iran Nuclear Deal
  • 2 days Oil Rig Explosion In Louisiana Leaves 7 Injured, 1 Still Missing
  • 2 days Aramco Says No Plans To Shelve IPO
  • 5 days Trump Passes Iran Nuclear Deal Back to Congress
  • 5 days Texas Shutters More Coal-Fired Plants
  • 5 days Oil Trading Firm Expects Unprecedented U.S. Crude Exports
  • 5 days UK’s FCA Met With Aramco Prior To Proposing Listing Rule Change
  • 5 days Chevron Quits Australian Deepwater Oil Exploration
  • 6 days Europe Braces For End Of Iran Nuclear Deal
  • 6 days Renewable Energy Startup Powering Native American Protest Camp
  • 6 days Husky Energy Set To Restart Pipeline
  • 6 days Russia, Morocco Sign String Of Energy And Military Deals
  • 6 days Norway Looks To Cut Some Of Its Generous Tax Breaks For EVs
  • 6 days China Set To Continue Crude Oil Buying Spree, IEA Says
  • 6 days India Needs Help To Boost Oil Production
  • 6 days Shell Buys One Of Europe’s Largest EV Charging Networks
  • 6 days Oil Throwback: BP Is Bringing Back The Amoco Brand
  • 6 days Libyan Oil Output Covers 25% Of 2017 Budget Needs
  • 6 days District Judge Rules Dakota Access Can Continue Operating
  • 7 days Surprise Oil Inventory Build Shocks Markets
  • 7 days France’s Biggest Listed Bank To Stop Funding Shale, Oil Sands Projects
  • 7 days Syria’s Kurds Aim To Control Oil-Rich Areas
  • 7 days Chinese Teapots Create $5B JV To Compete With State Firms
  • 7 days Oil M&A Deals Set To Rise
  • 7 days South Sudan Tightens Oil Industry Security
Alt Text

The Geopolitical Consequences Of U.S. Oil Exports

The United States has ramped…

Alt Text

How Vulnerable Is The Electrical Grid?

Hurricane Maria knocked out the…

Alt Text

With A World Awash In Oil, Kazakhstan Faces Fuel Crisis

Kazakhstan is struggling with a…

Shell’s New Sensors Could Reduce Exploration Costs Dramatically

Offshore Oil Rig

Searching for oil and gas is an activity with uncertain success—an activity with a bit less uncertainty were it not for 3D seismic surveying. And this uncertainty could be reduced even further, thanks to technological advancements that Shell is currently testing.

Seismic surveying is the first step in any oil and gas exploration project. It’s an expensive undertaking that requires scattering thousands of sensors on the ground and then analyzing the data they register about the subterranean rock makeup that may or may not include oil and gas-bearing formations.

Besides expensive, seismic surveying is also quite cumbersome and complex. The sensors that transmit subterranean data need to be connected by cables, which takes time and requires an enormous amount labor and equipment.

All this may be about to change with a Dutch company’s novel seismic sensor that was developed as part of a hunt for gravitational waves among physicists. The concept of gravitational waves first appeared in Einstein’s theory of relativity and Dutch astrophysicist Johannes van den Brand, co-founder of Innoseis, was one of the researchers that went out looking for them. Related: Asian Refiners Reduce Production Rates As Demand Stagnates

The trouble with gravitational waves is that they are really tiny and difficult to detect, especially underground, where there is a lot of noise interference. So, gravitational wave hunters need to isolate their sensors to tune out this interference. Van den Brand was joined in his research by Mark Beker, an applied physicist, and after failing to find sufficiently lightweight and reliable seismic sensors they could use in their study, the two eventually decided to make their own.

Shell sensed the potential of Tremornet back in 2012 and used it to check a possible connection between seismic activity and gas extraction near Groningen in the Netherlands.

The company has been testing the sensor since then.

Tremornet is wireless and once put in the ground it only switches on to time-stamp fresh data. It’s lightweight and compact, it can withstand extreme temperatures and is bound to come in handy as oil and gas companies expand their exploration areas and cut their budgets. Related: Iran Aims To Double Oil Exports, These Are The Hurdles

Shell, for one, slashed its capex for 2016 considerably but is looking for new exploration opportunities, focusing on deepwater offshore projects and the shale patch. While the Innoseis sensors are unlikely to help it with offshore exploration (at least for now), the shale patch is another matter.

Shell spends hundreds of millions on seismic exploration. This could change soon, if the novel sensors prove their worth and cost-efficiency. Instead of the hundred thousand clunky, cable-dependent sensors that Shell is using now, the company might be able to stick a million Tremornets a couple yards apart, covering a huge surface at no change of price.

In an industry where cost-cutting has become the ultimate mantra, affordable and reliable exploration solutions are bound to be in great demand, since reserves replacement doesn’t happen on its own and it’s vital for the survival of any energy company. Chances are that if Shell’s tests of the Tremornet are successful, we’ll be hearing a lot more about it from its peers as well.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

More Top Reads From Oilprice.com:




Back to homepage


Leave a comment
  • Marie Watson on September 29 2016 said:
    It is interesting that new technology might make oil and gas exploration much more affordable. I am curious as to what this could lead to. It makes sense that companies have to spend a lot of money on seismic exploration. Hopefully, they can continue to find good sources of oil and gas.

Leave a comment




Oilprice - The No. 1 Source for Oil & Energy News