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Gazprom Neft begins implementing molecular geochemical prospecting technologies

Gazprom Neft has become the first company in Russia to test an innovative molecular-level hydrocarbon exploration technology — aerial geochemical prospecting. Implementing this new prospecting technology could lead to savings of more than RUB650 million in exploration costs at a single license block.

Aerial geochemical prospecting makes it possible to determine — without major initial financial outlay — potentially promising areas for further appraisal and exploratory drilling on the basis of the composition of surface hydrocarbon gases. Comparing outcomes against geological models has confirmed the exactitude and reliability of the results obtained.

Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug

This high-tech methodology is based on recording hydrocarbon gas molecules at ground level, reflecting the geographical location of pay zones. Special materials (absorbing agents) have been developed to capture hydrocarbon molecules exclusively. Based on analysis of these samples specialists then identify those areas where molecules are most heavily concentrated. This helps determine the most promising blocks for subsequent geological prospecting.

Aerial geochemical prospecting has been successfully utilised at the Vorgensky licence block, (located within the Otdalennaya group of fields, belonging to Gazpromneft-Noyabrskneftegaz), with 950 markers being used to install absorbent structures across an area covering 3,500 square kilometres — the results of which have subsequently been used to determine the boundaries of promising structures. Work will continue in 2019, with a larger number of structures (7,000) being installed over 7,000 square kilometres.

Gazprom Neft acquired a significant number of new license blocks — typically covering large areas, and with under-researched geology — in 2018. In order to increase efficiency in geological prospecting, and to optimise costs in the initial stages of developing these assets, the company will be integrating the use of both traditional 2D and 3D seismic with modern non-seismic prospecting techniques, including geochemical surveys. Combining various technologies will improve accuracy in drilling wells and in identifying new fields, as well as cutting the time spent on field investigations.

Alexei Vashkevich, Head of Geological Exploration and Resource Base Development, Gazprom Neft, commented: “Gazprom Neft’s asset portfolio is characterised by a large number of license blocks in the early stages of exploration, where we are having to investigate massive areas in order to identify their resource potential and develop approaches for their subsequent geological exploration. It is precisely here that we can get the information we need at the lowest possible investment, and do what we need to in order to minimise capital risk. Which is why we see enormous potential in developing non-seismic and geochemical prospecting techniques, in particular. Taking our laboratory facilities to a new level in terms of technology, and developing integrated digital data-interpretation algorithms, should make it possible for us to achieve ground-breaking improvements in geological prospecting.”

Mars Khasanov, Head of Gazprom Neft’s Science and Technology Directorate and CEO of the company’s Science and Technology Centre, added: “Geological prospecting technologies form one of the key areas of Gazprom Neft’s Technology Strategy. In order to make the entire cycle of field development more efficient economically we have to get as much information as possible in the early stages of geological prospecting. Cooperation with leading Russian R&D centres is absolutely vital to us in developing new techniques, based around the basic sciences.”