Hi-Tech sensors to lift recovery rates - READ Group
Updated: Feb 6, 2019
Historically, Norway has strong links to geophysics of the oil and gas industry. The Norwegian oil and gas market has promoted the development of technology-oriented geoservices companies. Such is the case with READ Group, which was established in 1986 and has become an experienced company with a global footprint in the oil and gas industry. The European market is covered by the company’s headquarters in Oslo. Furthermore, READ Group has offices in Houston, which cover the markets of the US, Canada, and Gulf of Mexico; an office in Mexico, and a representative in Brazil. The Nigerian office represents the company in Africa and the eastern hemisphere is handled through agencies.
READ Group is heavily focused on technology development for seismic and geophysical exploration. The company offers a traditional VSP which they have modified and extended into a concept called “HybridVSP” by embracing the new technology of uni-axial fiber optical acoustic sensing, combined with traditional three-axial seismic tools. READ has advanced more efficient equipment dedicated to monitoring oil and gas reservoir storages which are all linked to well operations. A cutting-edge solution “PerForM” allows combining seismic sensors with devices measuring pressure, temperature, and other types of physical properties. “The most important financial impact of PerForM is that our technology allows very large amounts of data to be communicated through a single-pin electrical penetrator through a subsea well head. Today a single-pin solution is only used for pressure and temperature. READ can include a lot more sensors and allow oil companies to monitor and develop subsea wells in a more efficient fashion,” says Tor Hilton, CEO of READ Group. “We can give the operators the data they need to allow lifting the recovery rate of 30-35% closer to 60-70% of the initial reservoir from the platform-operated well,” explains T. Hilton.
To support both the “PerForM” and the “HybridVSP”, READ Group has developed equipment that allows a local vessels that exist in the oil companies’ pool of vessels to be used as a seismic source vessel, rather than bringing in an expensive, dedicated seismic source vessel. “We containerize and mobilize our equipment in a dedicated port and install it on the local vessel allowing us to do the survey and significantly minimize the costs,” says T. Hilton. Furthermore, the CEO explains that larger companies are on the lookout for new cost-effective solutions and are eager to learn more about these technologies.
Throughout the years, READ has acquired geophysical knowledge and has been developing its own software using its extensive expertise. Such software is capable of quickly adapting to the needs of oil companies and the data challenges of different reservoirs and it covers everything from borehole seismic, linking it to VSP data, to seafloor data. “It is very interesting for oil companies to combine all the data to obtain the maximum value of their assets,” says T. Hilton. In addition, READ Group has been working on micro-seismic and passive seismic technologies in order to listen to the noise created by human activities underground. “The core added value of the process is the imaging and the presentation of the data,” says T. Hilton.
To acquire the data, the company has developed permanent monitoring equipment and it places seismic sensors into the well as part of the process. The system reduces background noise, and allows the company to acquire data simultaneously with production. “The sensors record a huge amount of data. Typically, the system receives from 3000 to 12000 samples through a node per second and there may be as much as 120 sensors,” says Jakob B. U. Haldorsen, Chief Scientist and Global Advisor at READ Group . “The well head has typically only one electric penetrator which allows 8 megabits per second to go through that single wire, which is a huge technical achievement,” he adds. READ Group’s technology allows clients to listen to a dedicated area in a reservoir and the company is capable of directly controlling offshore systems remotely.
READ has been driving a lot of development in the migration algorithms which suit the integration of different data and the geometries in the borehole. The CEO sees the biggest opportunities for READ Group’s unique solutions within the subsea installations in the Gulf of Mexico, Brazil, Western Africa, Malaysia, Australia and the North Sea. “Mexico, being close to the US market, is an interesting area for “HybridVSP” and, currently, we are giving the highest priority to it. However, we believe that we have a strong position in the North Sea,” says T. Hilton. “The company follows the global market in terms of data processing. We have a good reputation, a large footprint, and a solid connection with oil companies because of having worked in more than 50 countries. Oil companies often come with special problems to us and challenge us to see if we have solutions for them”, says T. Hilton. The company looks forward to the market’s recovery and a more stable oil price after experiencing an increase in profits and turnover last year. “We believe that the coming years will be challenging, but the “PerForM”, the “HybridVSP”, and our core geophysical skills will be our strengths in the market,” adds T. Hilton.
Statoil has maintained their exploration rates fairly high compared to other companies in Norway. Companies in Norway are aiming to have a continuous exploration strategy in the North Sea and are trying to explore around the vicinity of their own production areas. “Some of the oil companies who have a stable financial position still try to maintain a certain level of exploration activity in the Barents Sea as well. The problem in the Barents Sea is that they need a huge player to drive the region up because standing alone in a remote location is difficult. However, there are two unique places globally. One is Mexico, which is opening up, and Myanmar is the other, which is in a quite similar situation. These two areas are special, but in more mature areas we see the same focus on increasing oil recovery,” says T. Hilton.
In Norway, READ Group sees the largest opportunities in increasing production from existing fields and bringing closed fields back online. The CEO at READ Group emphasizes the importance of maintaining stable exploration activities in order to keep the reserves from declining. He mentions that oil companies try to compensate for lost cash-flow by increasing output from the current production areas, but it is not sustainable and eventually the exploration phase continues. “Our current position shows that the “PerForM” is linked more to production areas than exploration. Currently, the big “HybridVSP” is what oil companies choose when they are close to the final decision when developing a field rather than in the exploration phase,” says T. Hilton.
READ Group has worked to create a global footprint and aims to see the “PerforM” equipment be recognized globally. The company has ventured abroad and has brought Norwegian knowledge to new markets. In addition, READ Group aims to position its “HybridVSP” in the North Sea and the US markets. “READ Group has an excellent geophysical standing; therefore, maintaining it is important for us as well. We are seen as a good geophysical partner for special seismic services for oil companies; therefore, we would like to bring forward a lot of new technologies and publish them in the geophysical oil and gas forums to maintain an important position,” concludes T. Hilton.