Three-D seismic technology continues to evolve and improve — as does one conference whose intent is to document and present those changes and their significance.
Initial presentations on new discoveries and case histories plus a showcase roundup of technology have helped make the annual 3-D Seismic Symposium in Denver a significant stop for those wanting to stay current on seismic advances.
Sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Association of Geologists and the Denver Geophysical Society, this year's symposium — the 11th annual — will be held March 11 at Denver's Marriott City Center.
R. Randy Ray, owner of R-3 Exploration Corp., and Bill Pearson, of Pearson Technologies in Denver, teamed up to start the program in 1995. Ray is past editor of the EXPLORER Geophysical Corner and serves as chairman of the organization's geophysical integration committee.
"There was high interest in the technique of 3-D seismic back then — it was a new technology sweeping across the country and improving technology," Ray said. "Today 3-D is maturing, but we're getting smarter about extracting more information from 3-D data sets."
Ray attributed the conference's endurance to the many talks on applications and case histories.
"It's what people like to see," he said. "It's the longest running 3-D symposium in the country to my knowledge. Other places have them for a year or two and they burn out, but we keep going."
Historically, the one-day symposium has drawn attendees not just from Denver, but from over the country, including many from Houston, Casper, Wyo., Oklahoma City and Tulsa.
"It draws a steady audience," Ray said. "It serves mainly the Rocky Mountain area, but there's always interest in what's going on."
It also has succeeded, Ray said, because:
- It narrows in on specialized topics.
- It brings geologists and geophysicists together, because it merges disciplines.
- It's a one-day symposium. "That's one reason it's so popular," Ray said. "Everybody can take off one day from work."
Steve Sahinen, vice president of operations for Seitel Data in Houston, has attended the symposium on and off for about 10 years. He said the Denver conference was a major event from the start because of the case histories presented there.
"It really helps grow the use of 3-D by hearing other people's experiences," Sahinen said. "It helps people better plan and utilize their assets.
"It's definitely a valuable tool because of the savings people can realize from picking up on other companies' triumphs and tragedies," he added.
Over the years, keynote speakers have touched on a variety of topics, Ray said. Mike Bahorich, of Apache Energy Corp. in Houston, discussed inventing of the coherency cube at the second annual symposium; the following year, Michael Zeitlin, of Magic Earth in Houston, demonstrated the latest applications of visualization technology.
In 2003, keynote speaker Scott Tinker, director of the Texas Bureau of Economic Geology, showed LiDAR imagery for studying 3-D outcrops — "One of the first times that it had even been shown," Ray said.
Last year's keynote speaker Henry Posamentier, of Anadarko Canada, discussed seismic geomorphology, which "went on to have a conference scheduled in London," Ray noted.
This year's keynote speaker is AAPG Distinguished Lecturer Alistair Brown — the symposium's original keynote speaker in 1995 — who will discuss "Pitfalls in Modern 3-D Seismic Interpretation" (see related stories, pages 14 and 28).
"Much seismic data today, especially 3-D, is underutilized," Brown said. "A better understanding of geophysical principles is required. Seismic attributes are not independent of each other. The well to seismic tie is complex with phase, polarity and tuning being big issues."
Another major talk at this year's symposium will be on the new Covenant Field, a significant new thrust belt discovery in Utah.
"This has been recognized as the largest oil discovery onshore in over 20 years," Ray said.
Keith R. Johnson and Doug Strickland (see related story, page 16), of Wolverine Gas & Oil Corp., will discuss the discovery in the central Utah and western Wyoming thrust belt, explaining how 3-D seismic was used to drill the Kings Meadow Ranch 17-1 discovery to open a new petroleum province in central Utah.
This talk will mark the first time that a company official has discussed the discovery publicly.
Also scheduled this year:
- A talk on using 3-D seismic for coalbed methane plays. "A lot of plays are going on in the Rocky Mountains, and this is the first paper showing this for evaluation," Ray said.
- A number of case histories presented.
- Robert P. Peebler, president of Input/Output, will discuss the latest in recording technology, and will illustrate the possibilities for finding oil and gas in onshore Rockies seismic programs.
- Talks on the acquisition on federal lands.
"We've had a paper every year on the acquisition on federal lands because the rules are changing so fast," Ray said. "We want to see what's being done, and what's being challenged by the Bureau of Land Management and environmental groups. We're working hard to become more sensitive to the environment."