Challenging Environments Case Study: Arctic Exploration
Understanding the Potential of a Highly Attractive but Challenging Region
E&P firms invest millions of dollars for exploration licenses in the Arctic. Unfortunately, a lack of seismic data means that decisions are made with limited knowledge of the petroleum systems or geology of the area. Acquiring new data presents formidable challenges. The climate and harsh environment drastically shorten the acquisition window. Sea ice limits the access of conventional marine seismic methods to many areas, and the ice can affect image quality by introducing noise into the data. Compounding the complexity are the required permitting, and government and industry approvals that can be time consuming, complicated, and often delay acquisition. In addition, the health and safety of the crew and the impact to the environment are of the utmost concern.
To address the challenges of Arctic acquisition, we reached into our geophysical toolkit to adapt some of our core technologies and custom designed a program that safely and efficiently acquired and imaged seismic data under the icy waters offshore northeast Greenland. These acquisition technologies cleared paths through the ice for the seismic acquisition vessels, steered the streamer cables within the fairways of open water, and enabled acquisition despite the challenges of operating in frigid waters and near the northern magnetic pole. Our GX Technology (GXT) group processed the data using special techniques to remove ice-induced noise, back-scatter, and multiples.
ION's GeoVentures team custom-designed and program managed a multi-client regional program offshore Greenland's northeast coast. Our Arctic-adapted marine acquisition technologies, guided by Orca software and implemented in-water by DigiBIRD and DigiFIN, were clear drivers of this productivity advantage, allowing vessels to maneuver the icy waters and vessel operators to keep the streamer cables in the water despite rough weather conditions. These technologies enabled the operator to acquire data further north and in the presence of heavier ice than had been previously possible, at the same time mitigating HSE risk and reducing cycle time. Our GXT group removed the back-scatter or 'ice multiples' further enhancing the quality of the signal and the resulting images. Since this data was acquired and processed, the E&P underwriters have commissioned additional surveys to evaluate the basin-scale factors that shaped the tectonic history and petroleum potential of the Arctic region.