Nicolae Moldoveanu

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Nicolae Moldoveanu
Membership Honorary

Nicolae (Nick) Moldoveanu started his career with Schlumberger in 1989, and had varying assignments in data processing, software development, geophysical support for acquisition and processing, seismic survey design, and the development and commercialization of seismic acquisition and processing technologies. Currently, Nick is a global geophysical advisor for seismic solution design and modeling at WesternGeco. Before Schlumberger, Nick worked for Geological and Geophysical Oil Prospecting Company (IPGG), Bucharest, Romania, as field geophysicist, seismic interpreter, seismic technology analyst, data processing manager and technical director of the IPGG seismic computer center. Nick has a diploma in geophysics from the Romanian Oil, Gas, and Geology Institute, Faculty of Geology and Geophysics, and a diploma in mathematics from University of Bucharest. Nick has over 60 published technical papers, holds 10 patents, and has 12 patent applications under review.

SEG Honorary Membership 2014

Nicolae Moldoveanu is a leader in seismic-acquisition technology with significant publications that address random sampling for seismic acquisition; circular geometry for wide-azimuth towed-streamer acquisition; multiple attenuation using buried vertical hydrophone arrays; vertical source array in marine seismic exploration; what is the next after WAZ for acquisition in the Gulf of Mexico; multivessel coil shooting acquisition as an efficient method for subsalt exploration; multivessel simultaneous coil shooting; ultralong-offset data acquisition to complement full-waveform inversion; marine acquisition using wave gliders; attenuation of high-energy marine towed-streamer noise; over/under towed-streamer acquisition; cascaded sweeps-a method to improve vibroseis acquisition efficiency; high-fidelity vibratory seismic in a difficult geologic area; the response of hydrophones and geophones in a transition-zone environment; complex imaging using WAZ data; onboard 3D and 4D subsurface target illumination as a tool to optimize streamer marine acquisition; and repeatability of seismic experiments for 4D seismic in transition-zone surveys.[1]

Biography Citation for SEG Honorary Membership

Contributed by Clément Kostov

Nicolae “Nick” Moldoveanu is awarded SEG Honorary Membership for his contributions and leadership in seismic-acquisition technology. The Honors and Awards Committee cites leadership in seismic acquisition and a few of Moldoveanu’s most significant technical contributions. These references highlight the broad range of his interests and contributions, his drive for innovative solutions, and his talent for communicating his technical vision and influencing acquisition practices.

Take, for instance, circular acquisition geometries and coil shooting techniques. In a radical departure from established practice in marine acquisition, in which vessels move predominantly along straight lines, Moldoveanu saw benefits from changing vessel trajectories from linear to circular and correctly estimated that acquisition and processing technologies could handle such acquisitions. While working on the implementation of the coil shooting concept, he contributed a novel method for noise attenuation.

How did Moldoveanu manage to turn his pioneering insight into a technological success story? Having the privilege of being a colleague and friend of his for many years, I know that the answer is a combination of strong, broad technical background and personal skills such as exceptional enthusiasm, drive to learn, dedication, and hard work.

Moldoveanu’s technical background draws on experiences from a career as a geophysicist, first in Romania and then in Canada and the United States. He obtained an M.Sc. degree in Romania in 1965. For the next 19 years, he worked for the Geological and Geophysical Oil Prospecting Company (IPGG), Bucharest, Romania, acquiring broad experience as field geophysicist, seismic interpreter, and seismic technology analyst and assuming responsibilities of data-processing manager and later technical director of the IPGG seismic computer center.

During those years, Moldoveanu continued to study, obtaining an M.Sc. degree in mathematics and preparing a Ph.D. thesis in geophysics while teaching and publishing. This first phase of his career ended in the mid-1980s when he and his wife, Elena, left Romania during a period of increasing social tensions and uncertainty.

Moldoveanu resumed his geophysics career in Canada and then in the United States, working for Schlumberger’s seismic companies. He started in Calgary as a processing analyst and in seismic software development. After his transfer to Houston in 1992, he became involved with seismic survey design and acquisition, looking for new solutions to seismic-exploration challenges with existing or emerging technologies.

In addition, Moldoveanu continued to follow closely developments of new technologies and research, as a member of the SEG Research Committee, as organizer of SEG summer research workshops, and as active collaborator with research consortia. Combining operational experience with the understanding of new concepts and technologies resulted in significant innovations, for which he received prestigious awards from World Oil in 2008, from Hart's E&P magazine in 2012, and from WesternGeco and Schlumberger in 2005 through 2011. In 2013, he was the SEG Honorary Lecturer for North America, presenting “Evolution of marine acquisition technology after wide azimuth” at 23 locations in four months.

As for Moldoveanu’s professional attitude and personal skills, the best is to quote him from a 2013 interview with SEG. “Geophysics is my passion,” he says. His advice to colleagues is, “Try to be an ‘all-around’ geophysicist. It is a rare specialty these days and one that requires talent, hard work, and perseverance, but it is rewarding. Never stop challenging yourself!”

Considering Moldoveanu’s publications this year, on developments in marine sources technologies and on wave gliders (‘floating nodes’) for collecting seismic data, it is apparent that his goals remain most challenging, with potential strong impact on our industry.

Nicolae Moldoveanu’s contribution and professional attitude make him truly worthy of Honorary Membership in SEG.

2013 SEG Honorary Lecturer, North America

Evolution of marine acquisition technology after wide azimuth

Seismic exploration in the deep-water Gulf of Mexico was based for many years on the 3D acquisition method and, as a result, significant oil discoveries were made and most of the plays were found below salt or in intrasalt-body basins. The quality of the seismic data acquired in deep-water subsalt environments was occasionally satisfactory for exploration purposes, but, in most cases, it was not good enough to support an accurate Earth model for reservoir development. The main challenges for data interpretation are: incomplete reservoir illumination, poor signal-to-noise ratio of the subsalt events, and poor seismic resolution. Developments in the last decade in marine seismic acquisition and data processing were driven to solve these challenges.

One reference point in the evolution of marine seismic technology in the last decade was the introduction of wide-azimuth acquisition (WAZ). Introduced in 2006 by British Petroleum in the Gulf of Mexico, the method was quickly adopted by the industry as a seismic technology to explore the complex subsalt geologic structures where improved subsurface illumination and signal-to-noise ratio are required. The introduction of WAZ started a period of several innovations in the seismic industry: dual-sensor streamer acquisition, full-azimuth towed streamer acquisition, broadband seismic measurements on both the source and receiver sides, long-offset marine acquisition, simultaneous shooting, and multimeasurement streamers. Challenges in processing wide-azimuth data lead to new developments in velocity model building based on tomography and full-waveform inversion, 3D demultiple methods, 3D anisotropic imaging with reverse time migration, and other improvements in computational methods.

The presentation will review the latest innovations in marine seismic acquisitions with examples of applications, and will discuss the geophysical benefits and limitations, as well as specific survey design and processing aspects related to each method.


Please tell us a little bit about yourself. (e.g. your education and work experience, why you became a geophysicist, etc.) I was born in Romania, in a small town in the Prahova Valley - a region well known for its oil and gas resources. Drilling rigs were part of the landscape, and this is where my curiosity for geophysics began. Later, I got a Diploma in Geophysics from the Oil and Gas Institute, Faculty of Geology and Geophysics, Bucharest, Romania, and a Diploma in Mathematics from the Faculty of Mathematics, University of Bucharest. My technical career started with the Geophysical and Geological Oil Prospecting Company (IPGG) in Bucharest. In 1989, I moved to Calgary, Canada, to work with Geco-Prakla, a Schlumberger company. In 1992 I was transferred by the company, now WesternGeco, to Houston, where I have been ever since.

Would you like to mention anything about your personal attributes that helped you achieve the professional status you enjoy today; was it self-belief, hard work, a mentor, or something else? Geophysics is my passion. My whole career is the result of my hard work, my capacity for making the right decisions at the right time, and last but not least, the help and dedication of my wife.

Why did you choose this lecture topic? Why is it important? During the last six years, marine acquisition technology has evolved very rapidly: from narrow-azimuth to wide- and full-azimuth geometries; from single streamer measurements to dual sensor, broadband, and multimeasurement streamer; and from sequential shooting to simultaneous source shooting. These developments have also triggered changes in seismic data processing and imaging technology. I have been involved in some of these changes and I think it would be interesting to share my views on these recent developments.

What do you hope people will have learned after they attend your lecture? How is it different from other lectures? I hope people will enjoy receiving an "inside view" on what is happening in marine seismic acquisition technology and a glimpse of what we can expect in the near future.

You have quite a busy year ahead. Do you enjoy traveling? Will it be difficult to balance the tour with your work? I'm already doing some parts of my work from remote locations, so I'm confident that I can run my jobs from any airport and hotel. It is a great reward for me to travel and meet new fellow geoscientists. I will do my best to successfully fulfill my SEG Honorary Lecturer's duties without adversely affecting my other work.

Would you share with us one or two of your most exciting successes? The most recent success was the 2012 Special Meritorious Engineering Award (MEA) for engineering innovation from Hart's E&P magazine, relating to the Dual Coil Shooting multivessel full-azimuth marine acquisition technique.

How about a couple of disappointments? I have no professional disappointments but I regret that, although I fulfilled all the requirements for a Doctorate in Geophysics from the Oil and Gas Institute, Faculty of Geology and Geophysics, University of Bucharest, I never took the time to defend my thesis on "Pattern recognition applications for seismic interpretation and seismic data processing."

What advice would you give to geophysics students and professionals just starting out in the industry? Try to be an "all-round" geophysicist. It is a rare specialty these days, and one that requires talent, hard work and perseverance, but it is rewarding. Never stop challenging yourself!


  1. SEG Honors and Awards Ceremony in Official Program and Exhibitors Directory, SEG Denver 26-31 October 2014 p.36-49.

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