​Oilsands seismic without environmental footprint? Explor says so

Drone image of Explor PinPoint team acquiring Ultra High Density seismic data in the boreal forest, oilsands region. Image: Explor Geophysical

Explor Geophysical says it has confirmed the viability of seismic acquisition without seismic lines, having completed the first pre-commercial scale Ultra High Density seismic survey using its PinPoint technology.

While typical 'low impact' seismic projects in the oilsands region mulch 2.75-metre-wide seismic lines spaced 30 to 80 metres apart to accommodate equipment, Explor says the method does not require seismic line preparation.

"Typical low-impact seismic operations in the oilsands can directly remove up to 15 percent of forest cover, and seismic lines alone can account for over half of the total disturbance footprint associated with SAGD operations. We know that simply cutting narrower lines doesn't adequately achieve conservation goals for caribou, and more and more research is showing that even [low impact seismic] lines impact a range of ecological values in undesirable ways, especially so at the very high line densities required for oilsands operations,” Explor’s Jesse Tigner said in a statement.

The relationship between traditional low-impact seismic lines and boreal woodland caribou is a major focus for regulators and represents a key business risk for oilsands operators — a risk that has now been eliminated, added Explor CEO Allan Châtenay.

The Alberta Energy Regulator granted approval to test the PinPoint method through a riparian area where other seismic sources are not permitted, eliminating key gaps in seismic data coverage. The company said this enhances imaging of caprock and reservoir attributes, which are key deliverables of seismic imaging for SAGD projects.

These PinPoint tests follow a series of 3D projects in the greater Montney play fairway in which Explor pioneered the elimination of receiver line clearing, became the first company to do Independent Simultaneous Shooting with Nodes in Canada, successfully imaging previously unseen geological features while reducing environmental impact.

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