Seismic Data Acquisition Campaign Underway in Northern West Virginia

by Duane Nichols on January 19, 2013

E & P Seismic Data

The Seitel company has made the local news recently on two accounts.  First, a seismic survey worker was killed near Fairview in Marion county as part of data acquisition via rig drilling using 30 foot deep holes.  And, secondly, helicopters are being used to drop supplies for similar activities involving geophone detectors and data transmission equipment.  It appears from the information compiled below that this is all part of the “Cassville West” seismic data acquisition campaign of the Seitel Inc.

 Seitel, Inc. Company Profile

There aren’t any “Quiet” signs in Seitel’s library, which consists of more than 43,000 sq. miles of 3-D and about 1.1 million linear miles of 2-D seismic data. The data is used to locate oil and gas. The company contracts with third-party seismic crews to gather data but handles the processing itself through its Olympic Seismic, Seitel Data, Seitel Matrix, Seitel Solutions business units. The bulk of Seitel’s total revenues comes from the acquisition and licensing of seismic data. The balance is primarily generated by its Seitel Solutions subsidiary, which gives customers access to the company’s seismic database.

Seitel, Inc. is a leading provider of seismic data and related geophysical services to the oil and gas industry in North America. Seismic data is a crucial tool in mapping the earth’s subsurface and revealing the potential for hydrocarbon accumulations. It is key to the success of oil and gas exploration efforts and to the recovery of the discovered hydrocarbons. Their products and services are used by oil and gas companies to assist in the exploration for and development and management of oil and gas reserves.

Seitel’s seismic data library includes both onshore and offshore three-dimensional (3-D) and two-dimensional (2-D) data and offshore multi-component data. Their library of onshore seismic data is one of the largest, if not the largest, available for licensing in the United States and Canada. The majority of the seismic data library covers onshore regions within North America, with a geographic concentration on the onshore and transition zone of the U.S. Gulf Coast. They conduct seismic data creation and licensing business through two wholly owned subsideries, Seitel Data, Ltd. in the United States and Olympic Seismic Ltd. in Canada.

To support the seismic data licensing business and their clients, they provide state of the art data processing services to the geophysical industry, through the Seitel Data Processing business unit. Through their Seitel Solutions business unit, they offer the ability to access and interact with their seismic data. 

The currently active data acquisition campaigns include the following:

Ambridge (In Acquisition): Beaver, Allegheny & Washington Counties, PA

Horton (In Acquisition): Elk, Jefferson & Clearfield Counties, PA

Mahoning (In Acquisition): Jefferson, Clearfield & Indiana Counties, PA

Cassville West (now in acquisition), includes land in Monongalia, Marion and Wetzel counties in WV as well as land in Greene county, PA. It is presumed that this particular project includes the activities now in the news in West Virginia.

Seismic data carry critical information related to rock properties and stress, which are among the determining factors for sweet spot prospecting. Technologies are available to generate seismic attributes that can fully characterize the geology of the shale plays, including structural features, formation heterogeneity, rock prop- erties, and stress. Highly desired information such as shale brittleness and stress can be extracted from the seismic data, making seismic data more relevant in the exploration and exploitation of shale resource plays.

Shales are frequently highly heterogeneous in nature. Seismic data, with properly preserved amplitudes and sampled in the angle domain, contain information related to lithology and rock properties. Properly processed and analyzed, the seismic data are not only relevant in prospect identification but also are an important data source for well planning in a shale play. The objectives are (a) to observe shale heterogeneity by examining and analyzing different seismic attributes such as frequency-dependent attributes, structural attributes, and trace shape attributes, (b) to determine and map the shale brittleness using rock mechanical attributes such as Poisson’s ratio and Young’s modulus; and (c) to estimate stress and its orientation by deriving, evaluating, and integrating amplitude versus angle versus full azimuth and residual moveout attributes.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

S. Tom Bond January 19, 2013 at 10:29 pm

Letter to editor printed in the Charleston Gazette:

Shale gas is more wishful thinking

Why do people buy forecasts by the burgeoning shale gas industry? So many thousand jobs by such a date, for example. This is just solicitation for more investment and less regulation. There is everything to be gained and nothing to be lost by putting out such figures — if they are not reached they will have been long since forgotten.

In this industry the big money is being made in attracting investment and financing and in leasing. Success depends on the perception of the future. Production is a poor cousin because the game is believed to be so good by investors and governments regulating it so many have entered the business.

Reliable estimates of coal reserves can be done by core drilling, but the contents of shale is highly variable from place to place. The industry is now in the process of finding and extracting “hot spots.” Future reserves will inevitably be lower quality. Production of individual wells falls off rapidly, half or more of the total production being received in the first two years, so new wells must constantly be drilled to maintain production.

All concerned would do well to consider conservation and to make conservative long-range plans. Wishful thinking has no place.

S. Thomas Bond, Jane Lew


Duane Nichols January 20, 2013 at 12:29 pm

Helicopters Used In Seismic Testing
June 10, 2009, Wetzel Chronicle, New Martinsville, WV

In Wetzel County in 2009, the Dawson Geophysical Company, contracted by Chesapeake Energy, performed seismic testing using helicopters.


Duane Nichols January 26, 2013 at 3:32 pm

Deal: Companies can enter property as land access lawsuits settled
BY DAVID BEARD, The Morgantown Dominion Post, 1-26-13

Chesapeake Appalachia and Seitel Data have settled lawsuits against several Monongalia County landowners who had refused Seitel access to their lands for natural gas seismic testing. Seitel attorney Christopher Power — with the Charleston office of Dinsmore & Shohl — said he was not at liberty to reveal the terms of the settlements, but access was granted.

Seitel is the company that has been flying a helicopter over western Mon County dropping wireless sensors, called geophones, to record shockwaves sent underground to help create a picture of the earth, including possible pockets of natural gas, using sound waves. Seitel and Chesapeake filed five separate cases, against Charles and Sue Loya, Aaron and Cynthia Cox, Donald and Donnis Price, all of Core; Scott Rice, of Fairview; and Jimmy Perani, of Blacksville. All five parties are surface owners without royalty rights to the minerals that may underlie their properties.

Through a subcontractor, Seitel approached the landowners about access. The agent explained the “minimal impact.” The landowners also received a proposed surface-owner use agreement and a notice form issued by the Department of Environmental Protection, which includes a reclamation plan
The seismic testing in question in the lawsuit involves placement of explosive charges in small bore holes drilled at various points. Seismic equipment measures the shock waves to help determine the presence of natural gas pockets.
Chesapeake contracted with Seitel to conduct the testing project — called the Cassville West 3D Seismic Testing Program — over a 170-square mile area across Mon, Marion and Wetzel counties. “Without reliable seismic data,” the suits said, “Chesapeake is unable to fully and efficiently develop its oil and gas properties,” particularly its Marcellus shale holdings, “and risks losing the value of its investment in oil and gas leases.”


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