University of Southampton
SEG Distinguished Achievement Award (2007)
Statoil Research Centre, the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI), Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the University of Southampton, and ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company are receiving the Distinguished Achievement Award for their contributions to the successful implementation of controlled-source electromagnetics (CSEM). Statoil Research Centre had the insight to provide the funding and support required to perform the first substantial CSEM experiment for directly detecting hydrocarbons. NGI provided modeling support for the initial test. The work was done by Harald Westerdahl and Fan-Nian Kong. Scripps provided various insights along with receivers for the first test. The Scripps program was initiated by Chip Cox and significant work was later accomplished by Steve Constable. Southampton provided various insights along with a source for the first test. This work was done by Martin Sinha and Lucy MacGregor. ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company performed early research and, after the Statoil experiment, followed with elaborate and extensive worldwide testing of this methodology for direct hydrocarbon indication.
Citation for the SEG Distinguished Achievement Award 2007
Controlled-source electromagnetic technology for hydrocarbon exploration has seemed to emerge suddenly onto the world stage, but in truth it has been gestating for a long time, in a number of different places. SEG is pleased to recognize this history of development by giving its Distinguished Achievement Award to five organizations jointly, and recognizing certain key individuals within each of these organizations. In approximate historical order: Scripps Institution of Oceanography: The CSEM program at Scripps was begun by Cox and Chave in the 1980s, and was continued and expanded by Steven Constable through the Seafloor Electromagnetic Methods Consortium (cf http://marineemlab.ucsd.edu/semc.htm]). This program established several fundamental ideas and software tools, and in particular developed the early generations of acquisition equipment, and made these instruments available to industry.
In this same time period, ExxonMobil performed research in this area under the direction of Len Smka (separately recognized with the Kauffman Gold Medal), leading to a 1986 patent claiming many elements now widely familiar. Offshore tests were scoped in the 1980s, but did not occur due to technology and business issues. Plans were renewed in 1999 for an offshore test, but these were postponed to 2001. After the Statoil experiment cited below, ExxonMobil conducted extensive worldwide testing of this methodology and drew the attention of the industry to its significant successes.
University of Southampton: Work by this group, led by Martin Sinha and Lucy MacGregor, started in the mid-l 980s (when the group was based at Cambridge). The Southampton group and the Scripps group together took the CSEM method from an initial concept and prototype instruments to a fully viable survey method equipped with the tools necessary for its introduction to the E&P industry. UoS developed both forward and inverse modeling schemes, and instruments including the first mobile high-power HED transmitter with the antenna incorporated into a "flown" streamer. Its LITHOS consortium of oil companies, beginning in 1998, developed data processing and interpretation software, methods, and insights that were critical elements of the 2000 and 2001 surveys. In 2002 the university spun off a new company (OHM), which offers CSEM services to the oil and gas industry.
Statoil started its research on CSEM for hydrocarbon exploration in 1997. Statoil pioneered, initiated, planned, and financed the first full-scale successful experiment offshore Angola in 2000. The Statoil leaders of this effort, Terje Eidesmo and Svein Ellingsrud are also separately recognized with the Kauffman Gold Medal. In 2002, after its first acquisition program in the Norwegian North Sea in 2001, Statoil spun off this new technology into a new company (emgs), the first to offer CSEM services to the industry at large.
The Norwegian Geotechnical Institute in 1997 provided ideas, insights, field analysis, and modeling support which established the feasibility of this initial Statoil test. F N. Kong and H. Westerdahl were among the earliest to recognize that EM fields can be significantly guided by a thin hydrocarbon layer, and can penetrate and propagate inside such a layer with small attenuation and faster speed. This phenomenon was verified by laboratory and numerical model tests, and is an important factor for the success of using CSEM for hydrocarbon reservoir detection.
Following the Statoil test in 2000, and the ExxonMobil campaign (both of which involved the participation of people and equipment from Scripps and Southampton), the list of CSEM adherents has expanded beyond counting. However, this first substantial test of controlled-source electromagnetics for direct hydrocarbon indication, and the fundamental efforts that went on for decades to prepare for it, make this moment in CSEM development a special one to celebrate.
CSEM nicely complements the high-resolution seismic method for imaging acoustic reflectors with a low-resolution method for direct detection of hydrocarbons. We may be confident that, in the future, CSEM will look very different than it does today (just as exploration seismics looks very different from the first refraction surveys), but these five organizations deserve SEG's recognition for their Distinguished Achievement in bringing the technology to the marketplace.