Why the “Digital Oil Company” Mantra Is Overrated

By Toyin Akinosho

There were hardly any computers on anyone’s desk when I arrived at Chevron Corporation as a trainee geologist in mid-1988.

The entire computing power in the company resided in an offsite location, seven kilometres from the main office.

A geoscientist’s desk was typically filled with several paper prints of two and three dimensional (2D and 3D) seismic reflection profiles. The table also hosted a printed base map or two. In a rack next to the seat were rolls of sepia and paper copies of more seismic reflection profiles, a handful of basemaps and several other maps.

Earth scientists painstakingly interpreted the profiles and transferred their “opinions” on the basemaps, usually of 1: 12,500 scale. What came out of the venture was mainly a structural map, a plan view of the top of a reservoir sand or seismic event several kilometres deep in the subsurface, which every interpreter pinned on a wall above his head.

The pinup was proof that he had completed the interpretation of a prospective sand reservoir or seismic “event”. Such a map prefigured the determination of the location of an oil well.

Full story of the earliest computerisation of oil and gas exploration and why the current advances are less a revolution than part of an ongoing evolution, is here..



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