NEOS is about to launch our first project in the Rocky Mountain region. Underwriting support for a neoBASIN regional survey has been received from a long-standing customer.
According to Chris Friedemann, Chief Marketing Officer and VP of Business Development…
Several exploration targets exist within the survey area, including the Niobrara shale. We will be mapping the thickness, burial depth, and areal extent of all of the zones of interest and identifying the basement features and localized fault systems that are often associated with enhanced well productivity in the Niobrara. In this part of Colorado, the need to conduct oil & gas activities with the utmost consideration of the environment is paramount. Our airborne geophysical operations support this objective, as will the hyperspectral data that we plan to acquire. The hyperspectral images will allow us to map surface-based ecosystems and enable licensees of the neoBASIN data library to plan and execute future development activities in an environmentally prudent manner.
Several members of the NEOS management team fondly remember the location of this survey, as it served as one of the testing grounds for a cableless seismic acquisition system that they had helped to introduce to the market at a previous geophysical company. In this particular area, airborne geophysical acquisition has a number of advantages.
First, we’ll be acquiring data over an environmentally sensitive area characterized by challenging topography which can pose an HSE risk to ground-deployed seismic crews like the one shown below. The neoBASIN survey won’t require us to put dozens of people on the ground, supported by heli-transport operations that drop off heavy equipment in pre-determined areas so that the ground-based crews can retrieve them, haul them along exposed and rock-laden cliffs to the designated receiver points, and drill the holes required for seismic sensor emplacement.
Moreover, low-touch airborne operations don’t cause disturbance to surface-based flora, fauna, and ranch lands. Regulatory restrictions to support protected species greatly limit the acquisition windows in which ground-based geophysical operations can be conducted.
Because we’re “flying above the fray,” we don’t have to worry about these access challenges or the risk of environmental disturbance. In addition, we can cover a much broader expanse of territory at a fraction of the cost of conventional geophysical operations.
After we’re done in about 6 months, our client will have both surface and sub-surface insights over a nearly 1,000 square mile expanse of the Niobrara shale play. And what do these insights include? Among other things:
- Maps of naturally occurring, surface-based oil seeps and indirect hydrocarbon indicators
- Maps of surface-based ecosystems (e.g., waterways, farms, ranch lands)
- Maps of basement topography and key structural and stratigraphic horizons
- Basement-to-surface maps highlighting local faults and associated fracture networks
- 2-D cross-sections and regional 3-D structural models of the subsurface
- Maps of the Niobrara, including an isopach, burial depth, and depth-to-basement map
- Regional resistivity voxels down to ~10,000 feet subsurface
- Regional ‘sweet spot maps’ depicting the most (and least) prospective areas for leasing, drilling, and/or further G&G study and investment.
In this part of Colorado, the Niobrara is liquids prone. Well productivity is enhanced by natural fracture systems which themselves are often induced by faulting. The faults themselves can be deep seated and impacted in location and magnitude by variations in the basement architecture. Our gravity and magnetic detection methods are well suited to mapping these basement features and the locations of fault (and associated fracture) networks.
In addition, we’ll be able to develop a regional potential fields model (calibrated by any seismic and well control in the area) which will allow us to generate 2-D cross-sections and a regional 3-D subsurface model from which isopachs, etc. can be extracted for horizons of interest.
Airborne EM methods will let us get a view into resistivity variations both horizontally and vertically throughout the geologic column. And hyperspectral will let us search for DHIs and indirect hydrocarbon indicators on the surface, especially along surface-cutting lineaments, faults, and fold axes, and also map the pre-development state of surface-based ecosystems, something all residents in the area (including this brown bear) care deeply about!
It’s setting up to be a terrific project, and both we and our lead underwriter can’t wait to get started. Stay tuned to the Sweet Spots blog as we share more from this exciting neoBASIN project.