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Abstract: The 3-D Seismic Revolution: Impact on Exploration and Development

Woody Nestvold

The success of an exploration and production project hinges on a knowledge of the subsurface. An accurate seismic image of subsurface structure and lithology is a weapon in our armory against the risk of drilling an earth into which we cannot see. The tool for this is 3-D seismic, and it has no peer.

We believe that 3-D seismic is revolutionizing the geophysical industry with far-reaching effect on the exploration and production business worldwide. This belief is corroborated by a broad spectrum of the industry. Although the details vary, the message is always the same, and always clear.

Most exploration 3-D surveys to date have been acquired in known hydrocarbon fairways. These surveys not only reduce the risk of drilling an exploration or appraisal dry hole, but also add reserves by enabling new oil and gas to be found.

On the other hand, the earliest justification and use of 3-D seismic surveys was to locate wells in development drilling programs. Benefits from 3-D seismic data translate into downward movement of development drilling costs, improved cash flow profiles from the reduction in operating and facilities costs, and increased production revenue. Even when acquired late in the producing history of a field, 3-D seismic imaging contributes to enhancing the recovery.

We believe that 3-D seismic technology is the key to the future, and that we ignore its benefits at our peril. With improvements provided by substantial investments in technology development, 3-D seismic will play an even more significant role in exploration and field development strategies in the years to come.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90982©1994 AAPG International Conference and Exhibition, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, August 21-24, 1994