AAPG ANNUAL CONFERENCE AND EXHIBITION
Making the Next Giant Leap in Geosciences
April 10-13, 2011, Houston, Texas, USA
Methodological Design for the Use of Synthetic Aperture Radar Imagery to Monitor Seepage Activity Behavior in the Gulf of Mexico
(1) Remote Sensing, IPEX, Botafogo, Brazil.
Oil seeps can be found at most oil frontiers located in coastal and oceanic regions. Detected oil seeps by means of Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) processing and interpretation may indicate the existence of active source rocks, reservoirs or migration pathways in sedimentary basins that might turn into commercial accumulations. Given the high costs of deep water operations, the petroleum industry considers the oil seep detection a promising technology for geological risk assessment during early stages of exploration ventures. This paper focuses on how seep detection can be used to reduce oil exploration risk in frontier offshore areas of Gulf of Mexico.
The Gulf of Mexico is presently one of the most important areas for oil exploration and production in the Western Hemisphere. However, important fisheries and delicate ecosystems surround this offshore environment, which makes it highly sensitive to the presence of oil. IPEX has carried out a large SAR imagery acquisition program that stands out as one of the most complete exploration databases of oil seeps as part of a systematic search for cutting-edge space technology to be used in offshore exploration and environmental monitoring. Project activities took place in 2003 and 2008 with the objective of assessing the seepage behavior of the entire Gulf by analyzing RADARSAT-1 and RADARSAT-2 capabilities to characterize oil seeps in such exploration frontiers.
Several SAR images were acquired using different operational beam modes. This data set was jointly analyzed with orbital meteorological and oceanographic images. Furthermore, radar features interpreted as oil seeps were ranked based on available geologic, geophysical and geochemical information, besides time persistence and predominant environmental conditions. This multidisciplinary program resulted in the establishment of an effective methodology for oil seep detection through the identification of suitable geometric characteristics of SAR imagery (image swaths, nominal resolution and incidence angle) and new unexplored oil seep clusters. Achieved results are considered relevant for the understanding of seepage behavior in the oceanic regions in the Gulf of Mexico and could be applied in decision-making processes involving exploration tasks.