Gazprom Neft leads Russia in ‘green’ seismic exploration

Gazprom Neft has become the first Russian oil and gas company to undertake a pilot project involving the use of innovative seismic exploration techniques, thus preserving large forested areas that would otherwise have to be cut down. The new green technology was tried in the field during spring 2014, in the West Chatylkinsky licence area (developed by Gazpromneft-Noyabrskneftegaz) in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Area. As confirmed by the company’s test results, the use of this innovative method substantially reduces human impact on the environment, primarily by halving the amount of forest felling required compared with traditional seismic exploration techniques. The pilot project demonstrated that by using the new method, approximately 200 hectares of forest — or roughly 60,000 trees — are saved per 400 square kilometres.

Green seismic exploration

Conventional techniques

At the heart of this green exploration is the RT System 2 wireless data acquisition system. No cables are required, which spares the forest from the cable paths that would otherwise be cut as a result of conventional seismic exploration. The wireless system also generates substantial time efficiencies, particularly since sensors can be quickly placed and moved across uneven terrain. Another feature of the RT System 2 is that it allows real-time monitoring of seismic signals and rapid processing in the field, compensating for signal interference which would otherwise degrade the quality of the data. Most wireless systems available today function without human intervention. A few days later, an operator records the readings and only then is their quality evaluated. As a result, some measurements have to be repeated.

Installation of RT System 2 wireless data acquisition system sensors

Gazprom Neft first saw the effectiveness of the new system in 2013, when it undertook seismic exploration at the Shakal block in Iraq. The use of wireless sensors dramatically simplified the work required in the area’s mountainous terrain — equipment could be easily installed in remote and isolated locations. Having seen these results abroad, Gazprom Neft decided to leverage this experience and introduce green technologies in Russia. Testing carried out in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Area in 2014 proved the stability of the system and its resilience to the region’s extremely low temperatures. Moreover, the quality of the data obtained is good when compared with seismic data obtained from the same area by traditional methods.

Vadim Yakovlev, Gazprom Neft First Deputy CEO, praised the project: “Using seismic exploration to discover and replenish reserves is a core part of any oil company’s business. Innovative technologies are critical in these efforts, and this new method accomplishes several very important things at once. Firstly, it significantly improves worker safety, since the main occupational hazards in seismic exploration are related to tree-cutting. Secondly, it minimizes our environmental footprint thanks to eco-friendly technologies, and speeds up the work process considerably. Our experiment has shown excellent potential for improving the efficiency of seismic exploration at our fields — we look forward to expanding this experience to other projects.”