Compagnie Générale de Géophysique

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Compagnie Générale de Géophysique
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SEG Distinguished Achievement Award 2006

SEG is honoring the Compagnie Générale de Géophysique with a Distinguished Achievement Award for its contributions to the science of exploration geophysics over the past 75 years. Founded in 1931 by Conrad Schlumberger, CGG has remained independent and has throughout its history contributed to the advancement of geophysics. Historically CGG has been a leader in land-based multicomponent seismic, time-lapse acquisition and processing, converted-wave applications, portable crews, land and marine telemetry, VSP acquisition, depth migration, noise attenuation, and ocean-bottom and conventional marine acquisition. CGG employs 4000 people, from more than 30 nationalities, working at 50 sites around the world and is a force among international industry associations. CGG currently operates through two business sectors. Sercel is a leading international supplier of land and marine seismic acquisition systems. The company designs, manufactures, sells, and supports a full range of high-tech, integrated equipment. CGG Services covers onshore and offshore seismic acquisition, seismic data processing, and reservoir management.

Citation for the Award

Contributed by Ken Larner

Just one year after SEG celebrated its 75th anniversary, the Society most fittingly has chosen to honor, with the SEG Distinguished Achievement Award, Compagnie Générale de Géophysique, celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. Since its founding in 1931 by Conrad Schlumberger, CGG throughout has remained an independent geophysical company with a record of innovation unparalleled in breadth of geophysicalexploration methodologies spanned. No mergers with other service companies; 75 years of independence, providing service of the highest quality, sparked, as from the start, by pioneering innovation.

CGG today is one of the premier geophysical exploration companies emphasizing seismic methods in petroleum exploration and reservoir management. Yet, throughout its history it has been far more than that. It all started in 1931 with dc electrical sounding methods developed over the previous two decades by the Schlumberger brothers. Ever since, CGG researchers have developed the theory and practice for acquiring and processing electrical data in mining, civil engineering, and hydrologic applications. Much the same holds for its extension to electromagnetic methods, starting in 1942, including induced polarization for mining exploration and use of transient currents for hydrocarbon prospecting. There immediately followed the combining of electric and magnetic field data in the development of multicomponent magnetotelluric methods. Even earlier on, back in 1937, CGG started a wave of developments in gravity prospecting, including the first heliportable survey, in the Sahara, in 1956. Shortly thereafter was the first (underwater) marine gravity survey, and over more than three decades, starting in the early 1930s, the company pioneered a succession of new techniques for processing and interpreting gravity data. Also, while CGG’s application of high-sensitivity airborne magnetic surveying in both mining exploration and petroleum prospecting dates back to 1962, its advances in theory and processing of such survey data go back even farther, to 1953.

No mere follower of fashion, while much of the seismic industry was largely focused in one or two conventional directions, CGG’s eyes were cast in all directions. For much of the history of seismic exploration, for example, the industry’s approaches were almost exclusively directed toward surface, P-wave exploration along 2D profiles. CGG’s bread-and-butter services had that focus as well. Meanwhile, however, CGG’s researchers investigated underlying principles of 3D wave propagation and the generation of shear waves, as well as measurement of waves down boreholes in vertical seismic profiling. They field-tested developments in each of these research areas, pioneering wide-line profiling to address the problem of out-of-plane reflections, developing novel means of generating shear waves, acquiring multicomponent data and processing them to recover mode-converted (PS) waves, and developing early methodology for exploiting these waves to enhance lithologic identification. Over the past four decades, CGG researchers were among the leaders in digital signal processing, including developing sophisticated methods for inversion of multiples-contaminated data, for interpolation of missing data, for suppression of various types of seismic noise, and for depth migration and imaging of seismic data. This brief citation allows no more than the mention of a regrettably incomplete list of names of outstanding CGG researchers over the years: R. Mailet, V. Baranov, G. Kunetz, R. Garotta, D. Paturet, D. Michon, J. M. Fourmann, R. Soubaras, and S. Spitz.

The emphasis in this citation has been on CGG’s many innovations in geophysical exploration technology over the decades. The foundation for its outstanding research, however, derives from the company’s commitment to substantial reinvestment of annual revenue into R&D, revenue derived from continuing success in worldwide acquisition and processing of geophysical data—today dominantly seismic—both onshore and offshore. In turn, that success derives from the high trust and respect that CGG has earned from its clients.

In the years and decades ahead, geophysical exploration companies will come and go, through company mergers and takeovers, but 25 years from now we can well expect to find an ever-independent CGG celebrating 100 years of innovation through research that poses and tackles technological questions in exploration geophysics that others don’t even think to ask.

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