One of my main jobs as exploration editor is to constantly be on the lookout for interesting new technology that our readers might consider using in their search for oil and gas. Once in awhile I get lucky.

I’ve recently been talking to geophysicists about technologies that will be needed to improve exploration success, and one of the most frequent comments is that there needs to be a better way to combine seismic data with controlled-source electromagnetic (CSEM) data. Seismic, of course, provides a fairly high-resolution image of the structure and stratigraphy of the subsurface but usually can’t detect actual hydrocarbons, while CSEM takes resistivity measurements which can often provide direct hydrocarbon indication but does so on a very low-resolution scale.

A Norwegian company named MultiField Geophysics is pushing this integration from the processing and interpretation level to the acquisition level by developing an ocean-bottom cable (OBC) system that combines seismic with CSEM. The company recently announced results from a field test over the Peon field offshore Norway. The tests involved deploying a series of OBC sensor segments to acquire EM and seismic data. The source, towing a horizontal electric dipole,, was used to transmit various GPS synchronized arbitrary waveforms. Data were acquired and compared with a reference station deployed to monitor the spread, and acoustic data were collected simultaneously on selected acquisition lines.

Preliminary processing shows successful delineation of the gas field, and an analysis of the test data has confirmed the performance of the integrated sensor system. The first full-scale commercial application is scheduled for the first quarter of 2009.

The company was established in November 2006 and is the result of a two-year joint research and development program with its key industry partners, Wavefield Inseis ASA, StatoilHydro Venture ASA, and the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute.

This type of technology could have significant implications for explorationists hoping to take advantage of the joint benefits of seismic and EM. Maybe I’ll ask them to write an article.