Seismic-while-drilling technology advance hailed

Nick Snow
OGJ Washington Editor

WASHINGTON, DC, Aug. 14 -- Technology International Inc. of Kingwood, Tex., has developed a breakthrough borehole imaging system that is nearly commercial, according to the US Department of Energy, which is sponsoring the project.

By pushing the limits of seismic-while-drilling technology, the patent-pending SeismicPulser system provides more accurate geosteering for oil and gas discoveries, facilitating field development and improving well economics, DOE’s Fossil Energy Office (FEO) said on Aug. 12.

It said drillbit SWD technology uses use a downhole acoustic source and receivers at the surface to create real-time images that allow operators to “see” ahead of the drillbit. The SeismicPulser system was developed to withstand high-pressure, high-temperature (HPHT) environments in deep onshore and offshore deepwater wells requiring special imaging technologies, DOE said.

DOE said no drillbit SWD system available currently has the new system’s full capabilities. It said the system, which is built into or attached on the drillstring, emits broadband low-frequency sounds that, based on seismic calculations, can be transmitted to surface receivers from depths beyond 30,000 ft.

Project managers have indicated that SeismicPulser is the only system that meets the requirements of those companies planning to drill HPHT wells to as deep as 35,000 ft in ultradeep water, according to DOE.

It said SeismicPulser provides accurate drillbit location relative to predrilling reservoir models and gives the operator real-time images roughly 1,000 ft ahead of the drillbit, all without interfering with normal drilling operations.

The system costs less than conventional vertical seismic profiling systems and increases safety and cost savings by detecting unexpected increased pore pressure ahead of the bit, DOE said. It also provides new operational capabilities by allowing operators to visualize and steer towards more optimal targets when drilling deep formations, it added.

DOE said funding for the project came from FEO’s oil and gas program. Field testing was performed at the University of Texas’s Devine seismic test site and DOE’s Rocky Mountain Oilfield Testing Center near Casper, Wyo. The project was managed by the FEO’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

Contact Nick Snow at

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