New seismic technology allows Explor to go where no seismic crews have gone before

Tracks on a near-zero impact seismic line in the oilsands region. Image: CNW Group/Explor

Explor Geophysical Ltd. has completed three seismic field trials of its PinPoint seismic source technology in the oilsands region to prove out its ability to go where no seismic crews have gone before—through riparian areas where crews are typically not allowed to tread.

Explor’s near-zero impact PinPoint technology has the ability to be deployed using the equivalent of a walking trail, whereas typical seismic projects in the region have 2.75-metre-wide seismic lines spaced 40 to 80 metres apart to accommodate off-road equipment.

The technology enables ultra-high density seismic imaging of oilsands targets while nearly eliminating impact on boreal woodland caribou. Traditional seismic acquisition results in higher levels of habitat loss and creates long-lasting open tracks that can render caribou more vulnerable to predation. The new technology thus allowed the Alberta Energy Regulator to grant approval to test the PinPoint method through areas other seismic sources are not permitted.

"The PinPoint method enhances our ability to acquire outstanding images of the subsurface using near-zero line widths thereby nearly eliminating the impact of seismic operations on boreal woodland caribou in the greater Athabasca oilsands region,” Explor president Allan Châtenay said in a statement.

Using PinPoint, the Calgary-based private company was able to eliminate gaps in seismic data coverage and enhance imaging of caprock and the bitumen reservoir, key deliverables of seismic imaging for SAGD projects.

The PinPoint technology produced seismic images with 2D trace densities of over 200,000 traces per linear kilometre, laying the groundwork for 3D trace densities in excess of 10 million per square kilometres.

The PinPoint tests follow a series of 3D projects in which Explor demonstrated the value of high trace densities by attaining 1.25 million to over five million traces per square kilometre, imaging previously unseen geological features while reducing environmental impact.

“We have worked hard for several years to develop this innovative technology and these tests confirm that we are on track to deliver extraordinary outcomes for our clients," said Châtenay.

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