New seismic trends push into the sea

The seemingly inexorable push of the hydrocarbon industry into ever deeper waters and more challenging environments is advancing some pretty interesting – as well as unusual takes on technology.

A recent article from Marine Technology Reporter introduces a new class of “Lean, Green” seismic survey vessels. While environmental sensitivity is not the first thing that comes to mind when I think of seismic airgun surveys, the fact that these Arctic-task ready ships are designed for significantly lower exhaust emissions is perhaps a “breath of fresh air.”

This is particularly in light of the current bill HR 2021 that passed in the House this week, which among other things exempts offshore oil operations from the Clean Air Act and “stops the EPA from imposing a job-crushing energy tax” on the oilmen. (What good are laws anyway if you can’t selectively enforce them?)

On a lighter note, Hewlett-Packard and Royal Dutch Shell are collaborating on an ultra-high-sensitivity accelerometer to be used in terrestrial seismic surveys. The devices are responsive enough to sense the impact of ocean waves on the quietest land on earth.

While these specific devices are intended for land-based surveys, the development trajectory will eventually bring these hyper-sensors into that marine environment, potentially allowing surveys using quieter, lower energy seismic impulses. This could make a big difference in terms of biological disruption of the marine acoustical environment.

But the biggest difference can be made by us as we decrease our dependence on fossil fuels – foreign or otherwise.