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Technology and Innovation
29 October 2014 |   By D Mcconnell
Fugro Author
Just as oil seeps on land have led to the discovery of oil, seeps in the marine environment can lead to similar discoveries. Fugro’s seeps consulting group has developed offshore interpretation methods that help innovative oil companies maximise their exploration success in deep water. Pioneering the use of MBES programmes to reduce ambiguity in geochemistry campaigns, Fugro has developed worldwide recognition in this specialist area of consultancy.

Courtesy NOAA and the University of New Hampshire Center for Coastal & Ocean Mapping.


Faults extend up from the reservoir interval to near the seafloor. Shallow bright amplitudes and seafloor mounding suggest the potential for hydrocarbon seepage. Together these data establish a link between subsurface reservoirs, migration pathways and seafloor seeps, that was confirmed through targeted geochemistry. Dembicki and Samuels 2007, OTC 18556.

Deepwater Exploration

Since at least the 1970s it had been noted that natural gas seeps were present on the ocean floor. Diving in submersibles to document them, geoscientists observed relatively small streams of bubbles. More recent use of MBES technology for imaging revealed plumes that appeared to be much more intense than those that had originally been documented; in fact they were not. A small stream of bubbles with a certain intensity will produce what appears to be a vigorous plume in the MBES water column imagery.

With market forces driving the need to reduce the costs of deepwater exploration, Fugro provides essential technology and services to support decisions over where to acquire the expensive, but vital, 3D seismic data that is needed to drill a well. Fugro’s fleet of stateof-the-art vessels, equipped with the latest MBES technology, ROV and AUV equipment and precision seabed sampling capability enables the delivery of high quality data for geochemical analysis. Its seeps consulting group helps to locate natural seepage that can prove thermogenic charge at oil and gas prospects and their onboard consultants can guide the success of the survey.

Future Developments

“We anticipate a number of developments arising from our ability to monitor deepwater developments for infrastructure leaks and foundation changes at a lower cost,” comments Dan McConnell, Marine Geologist and Business Delivery Team Director at Fugro. “Because of this, environmental monitoring could realistically be incorporated into the industry’s regular maintenance and environmental stewardship programmes.

“There is also a potential demand for deeper geochemical samples to prove hydrocarbon charge to basins. It would be possible to acquire these samples, along with key geotechnical data for early geotechnical engineering, with jumbo piston cores,” he suggests.

Did you know?

Fugro has supported clients in their “smart” seeps campaigns off Madagascar, Mozambique, Kenya, New Zealand, Uruguay, Guyana, Colombia, Nova Scotia, the Gulf of Mexico and Brazil.


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