OMV, the international, integrated oil and gas company headquartered in Vienna, has successfully concluded the largest 3-D seismic survey in European history, the company said on April 15.

OMV was searching for natural gas. Specifically, the measurements probe the geologic subsurface to depths of up to 6,000 m and provide information on the composition of structures that may contain gas.

A large-scale area of 1,500 sq km (579 sq miles) was examined, stretching from the northeast of Vienna to Weinviertel, Lower Austria, and southwest of the Danube. The survey spanned nine months in the period from December 2017 to March 2019 – natural protection laws and consideration of farming activities meant that the seismic acquisition was carried out exclusively in the winter months.

The survey involved a total of 140,000 geophone stations with two million individual geophones overall. Geophones register and record sound waves reflected by geologic boundaries.

This nodal system was paired with another technology, newly applied in Austria and known as the Slip-Sweep method, which made this highly efficient operation possible. During the 3-D seismic acquisition, four fleets of three seismic vibrators were in action. These vehicles produce waves that are reflected by geologic boundaries and captured by geophones back on the surface. On earlier seismic projects, around 150 vibration points were measured each day, i.e. vibrations were generated at 150 points. During this survey, a maximum of 1,200 of these points was achieved.

“This 3D seismic campaign has enabled OMV to generate data of around 700 terabytes – which puts us in the running as a digital frontrunner and forms a basis for future discoveries. A total of around 250 people were involved in the project. Together they put in more than 500,000 working hours, all without a single incident. Safety is the top priority within OMV as every employee needs to get home safe and sound," Johann Pleininger, executive board member responsible for upstream and deputy chairman of OMV, said.

Now the seismic survey has been successfully completed, it's time to evaluate the data. This will result in a 3-D picture of the subsurface, which helps the OMV experts to discover possible gas reservoirs.

At present OMV produces around 10% of the gas consumed in Austria.