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SEG Distinguished Achievement Award 2008

SEG is presenting a Distinguished Achievement Award to WesternGeco for recognizing the benefit of and allotting significant financial resources to the research and development of high-channel-count single-sensor seismic acquisition systems, now known as marine and land Q systems. This effort was undertaken with one of the largest financial commitments to exploration geophysics research in history. This R&D effort helped galvanize the industry toward high-channel-count systems and steerable streamers.

Citation for the SEG Distinguished Achievement Award 2008

Contributed by James Martin

Geophysicists have continuously sought to improve the quality of seismic field data ever since the seismic method was fi rst exploited for hydrocarbon exploration during the early part of the twentieth century. Hardwired arrays of seismic sensors have been used for many years to attenuate noise while amplifying the desired signal. These arrays of sensors were specifi cally tuned to attenuate noises such as ground roll on land and swell noise in the marine environment. Such arrays form fi xed wavenumber fi lters and are suboptimal in many respects—attenuating the desired signal while often being disappointing in the amount of noise suppression actually achieved.

In the early 1990s, WesternGeco’s parent company, Schlumberger, embarked on a research program for single-sensor recording that would enable the delivery of fundamentally better data to their clients. Data-adaptive algorithms were developed to automatically and optimally attenuate noise in the field, while passing much more of the signal present at the single sensors than would be possible with hardwired arrays. The impact on the signal fidelity of the suite of perturbations present when we measure the seismic wavefield was also studied extensively. These perturbations introduce shot-generated, pseudorandom noise upon array forming and are often the dominant source of random noise compromising seismic data. The major sources of perturbation present in land and marine seismic surveying were studied and ranked in order of impact. Utilizing single sensors, solutions to either remove or correct each source of perturbation were developed.

Encouraged that single-sensor systems would excel, WesternGeco then embarked on a strategy to build singlesensor land and marine systems capable of recording more than 30 000 channels—so called Q-Land and Q-Marine. Moreover, engineers for Q-Marine achieved a long-held dream of steering marine streamers, both vertically and horizontally, which enhanced the repeatability of the resulting seismic data, enabled time-lapse monitoring of hydrocarbon reservoirs and generally improved marine operations.

The success of single-sensor seismic surveying has been demonstrated many times over in the intervening years. Higher-fi delity seismic data, with much better resolution, have enabled oil companies to detect, characterize, and monitor their hydrocarbon reservoirs with a much greater accuracy than ever before. Marine time-lapse seismic surveying has proved invaluable in monitoring the effects of production, enabling oil companies to optimize further fi eld development.

WesternGeco is proud to receive this award for the Oslo Technology Centre and would like to recognize the signifi cant contributions from the Schlumberger Cambridge Research Centre and colleagues from throughout WesternGeco.