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Seismic Operations in Sensitive Areas

Mark Wagaman1 and Michael FitzMaurice2
1CGGVeritas, Denver, CO
2Bill Barrett Corporation, Denver, CO

Conducting a successful seismic geophysical project to meet economic, technical, scheduling and regulatory goals is often a challenging and complex endeavor. When the seismic project happens to be located in a sensitive area, the challenges and complexities multiply. By reviewing legacy seismic projects that have been successful in sensitive areas, a set of “best practices” that contributed to the outcome can be can assembled for consideration on future projects.

Large tracts of land under Federal, State and Tribal control exist throughout the Rocky Mountain region and these in turn specify the sensitive areas with cultural, wildlife, vegetative or other natural occurring concerns. On privately owned land, sensitive areas can include lands used for agriculture, livestock, industrial (including oilfield) and municipal purposes. Operating in these sensitive areas can involve restricted operational areas, shorter operational timeframes but longer project duration timeframes, increased costs, technical concessions and objections from concerned groups. Any or all of these issues can compromise the goals of the project.

There are a variety of tools and techniques available that can help smooth through the difficult processes required when working in sensitive areas. Some of the techniques include the use of heliportable drilling, heliportable equipment deployment, remote sensing, block archeology, on-site monitors and contracting environmental companies. Even more critical is remaining perseverant and maintaining communication through the awareness, planning, compromise and operational phases of the program.

AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90092©2009 AAPG Rocky Mountain Section, July 9-11, 2008, Denver, Colorado