Tue, Apr 09, 2019 - Page 10 News List

3D tech spots oil in Alaska


New technology is being used to search for untapped oil in an Alaskan bay that is already an established source of fossil fuel, officials said.

Oil and gas company BP PLC is employing “3D seismic” technology to locate small pockets of previously undiscovered oil in Prudhoe Bay in northern Alaska, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported on Saturday.

The area has been an oil source for more than four decades, but in the past few years, its flow has slowed, the newspaper reported.

The technology involves metal platforms mounted to “vibe trucks” weighing about 42,185kg that cause the ground to vibrate with sonic energy, the officials said.

“As the energy wave goes through the subsurface, the rocks are in layers, and the layers are based in hardness,” BP seismic acquisition specialist Robert Pool said. “A harder layer, the sound wave goes through faster — and a softer layer, it goes through slower.”

Receivers pick up the returning sound waves and convert the data into a 3D “cube” depicting the geology below, including the location of hidden pockets of oil, the officials said.

A 3D seismic survey conducted from January to the middle of April would cover more than 1,166km2, the company said.

Environmental groups have voiced strong opposition to prospective 3D seismic work in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, but not in Prudhoe Bay, the newspaper reported.

Alaska only allows seismic work when the tundra is frozen and covered with snow, while federal authorization is required because the bay is a polar bear habitat, the officials said.

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