technology&more

technology&more

technology&more

-1

 Technology&more

O

il and gas production is on the rise. Since 2006, oil 
production in the U.S. and Canada has gone up by 
16 percent to nearly 16 million barrels per day. And 

according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, American 
dependence on foreign oil has declined significantly. In 2005, 
the U.S. imported 60 percent of the oil it consumed; the num-
ber dropped to 45 percent in 2011. 

The production increases have opened new sources for oil and 
gas and triggered booms in the U.S. and Canada, and improve-
ments in geophysical exploration have played a central role. 
Over the past 15 years, advances in positioning, mapping and 
computing technologies have enabled seismic surveying to 
keep pace with market demands. One of the primary drivers 
is the increased capability of the software and computing 
hardware used for geophysical modeling. 

In Canada, Calgary-based Clean Harbors Exploration Services 
provides services for geophysical exploration project manage-
ment. In addition to the need for increased amounts of data, a 
major challenge comes in fitting the seismic program design 
into the reality of terrain and obstacles in the field. Clean Harbors 
uses GPSeismic® software to manage the survey points and 
information, including uploading data to the field and exporting 
final results to the clients’  formats. In the field, crews use Trimble 
R8 GNSS rovers, with Trimble R7 GNSS receivers set up as RTK 
base stations. A typical job can have 10 or more survey teams, 
with each team setting 100 to 200 points in a day. Working 
conditions are challenging, ranging from heavy forest and deep 
snow to windblown prairies. 

GNSS surveying has a positive environmental impact in 
exploration. GNSS surveyors can take a meandering path to 
reach points more efficiently, and multiple crews can work 

simultaneously on different sections of the same line. The 
impact from the mechanical equipment has been reduced as 
well. In the mid-1990s, cut lines were often 5 m (16 ft) wide; 
now lines range in width from 0.5-3.5 m (1.6 to 11.5 ft). Over a 
large project, the modern methods result in significantly less 
ground disturbance and fewer trees cut down.

Clean Harbors keeps a close eye on the bottom line. In 2010, the 
company saw a 10-percent increase in productivity over their 
previous systems. Field crews reported that the Trimble GNSS 
equipment was responding more quickly, the real-time com-
ponent behaved better and the crews achieved better results 
in the high-noise, tree-covered areas where they frequently 
operate.  With constraints coming from two directions—cost 
and environmental concerns—oil and gas exploration con-
tinues to evolve. Thanks to further integration between GNSS 
field systems, geophysical analysis, LiDAR and GIS, seismic 
surveyors will see further improvements in productivity, costs 
and environmental impact.

See feature article in POB's February issue: www.pobonline.com

Exploring at High Speed

Seismic Surveyors Face Increased Demand, Cost Constraints 

and Environmental Concerns.