Andrew Long's First Impressions



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Sunny skies and hopeful faces. 

The past two years have been tough for the tradeshow business. Although virtual and hybrid conferences are probably here to stay in some form, nothing beats the satisfaction of meeting people in person. For those traveling to Madrid this week, the Exhibition Hall is modest in size but full of smiling faces. A sunny 34 C (93 F) day outside probably contributed to a sparse crowd inside for the icebreaker drinks, but total registrations (including online participants) of about 4 000 feels like a real conference again.

Three technology themes seem to have dominated proceedings so far:
  1. CCS / CCUS is alive everywhere and dominates the discussion on the Exhibition Hall floor. Marine minerals are also making a lot of noise, primarily in terms of companies pursuing investigative research such as the dataset being developed by PGS and OFG.

  2. FWI (Full Waveform Inversion) again has the largest share of the seismic elements of the technical program, maturing into a key standalone interpretation tool. Products such as PGS Ultima, a simultaneous inversion equivalent to performing FWI and least-squares migration (LSM) in a single framework, is clearly the way forward. 'Conventional' FWI is already being used in integrated studies to produce 3D feasibility cubes of expected rock properties and AVO signatures, and this year, Dig Science and PGS further refine their ability to combine burial and rock physics modeling for the Tablelands and North Tablelands area in offshore Newfoundland. Expect to see much closer integration between simultaneous inversion and subsurface characterization in coming years - including applications to CCS and reservoir monitoring.

  3. Marine acquisition technology talks continue to focus on the source side and upon efficiency improvements to seafloor seismic surveys. Overall, the common element of most source developments has been an acceptance that compact air-gun sources yield perfectly good signal penetration and enable the deployment of wide-tow multi-source shooting templates for highly efficient surveys with excellent near-surface resolution. As illustrated by Lundin Energy with their Nordkapp hybrid streamer-OBN survey, towed-streamer broadband surveys complemented by an array of nodes deployed for the duration of the survey also benefit greatly from wide-tow multi-source shooting. Regards alternatives to air guns, the BASS marine vibrator (MV) being developed by Equinor and Shearwater apparently still requires another couple of years of development. It has been a long wait to see a commercial industry success in this space, but the promises keep coming. An interesting comment regarding time-lapse 3D (4D) was that MV-on-MV should work, but MV-on-legacy air-gun will be far more challenging. On the land front for vibroseis sources, deblending talks fill the program. Time will tell whether the marine deployment of many simultaneously-sweeping vibrators is feasible.

In the post-event summary, I will mention various developments with cloud-based data integration and interpretation.