Exploration The search for oil and gas
Natural gas and crude oil are located deep underground, concealed in rock layers. Wintershall Dea relies on state-of-the-art exploration methods and digital possibilities to find them.
Whether it’s in the Sahara, Patagonia or Siberia, natural gas and crude oil are often located in regions that are difficult to access and have an extreme climate, or deep below the sea. Finding new reservoirs requires a good understanding of how resources are formed. In addition, the geological conditions must be analysed as accurately as possible. State-of-the-art exploration methods and digital possibilities point the way to the resources and supply a very good idea of the subsurface, even before the first test well is drilled.
3D Seismic surveys create an exact picture of the geological layers
Wintershall Dea uses 3D seismic surveys to find undiscovered reservoirs. Artificial sound waves are transmitted into the depths from special vehicles or ships. They are reflected back as an echo, which differs depending on the composition of the rock. Sensitive measuring instruments receive the signals and convert them into electrical impulses. 3D seismic surveys deliver a three-dimensional image of the geological layers. They help estimate the recoverable quantities and enable the wells to be drilled at the ideal spot.
Vibro trucks lower their vibrator plates onto the ground and vibrate for several seconds, thus generating sound waves below the surface. The sound waves have frequencies between around eight and 80 Hertz and are referred to as “seismic waves.”
The seismic waves penetrate all rock layers.
A small part of the energy is reflected at the boundary between each layer, thus generating a unique echo. The reflections differ depending on the density and composition of the rock.
Geophones register the delay times and vibration levels of the echoes and convert them into electrical impulses.
The highly sensitive measurement instruments are connected to one another via cables and are laid out in lines extending around three kilometres in length. The individual lines are around 200 meters apart.
The electrical impulses from the geophones are transmitted by cable to the measurement vehicle and recorded there for later analysis.
The huge amounts of data are processed by high-performance computers. From the data, they calculate a three-dimensional model of the substrata, thus providing a basis for the geoscientists to work on.
METRES OF DRILL CORES ARE STORED IN THE DRILL CORE WAREHOUSE IN BARNSTORF.
UNDERGROUND IS WHERE THE DEEPEST RESERVOIRS THAT CAN CURRENTLY BE PRODUCED ARE LOCATED.
BARRELS OF OIL EQUIVALENT IS THE ESTIMATED PRODUCTION VOLUME FROM THE BERGKNAPP FINDING.
High-resolution insights into drill cores and natural gas and crude oil fields
Wintershall Dea has operated a cutting-edge central laboratory at Barnstorf in Lower Saxony since 2018. It is equipped with a micro computer tomograph and electron microscope and so delivers high-precision 3D images of drill cores. The method is called Digital Rocks. All Wintershall Dea locations have access to the lab. It also includes the drill core warehouse, where 70,000 metres of drill cores from all over the world can be stored and analysed. The samples are the company’s “memory” and can even be re-evaluated decades later.
Artificial intelligence for developing models
Artificial intelligence could soon take over the task of processing data from seismic surveys. Wintershall Dea has launched an initial pilot project to enable that. An innovative software analyses data from seismic surveys. The system learns how to categorise, classify and recognise patterns. Finally, it creates detailed 3D models of large underground areas solely on the basis of seismic and exemplary drilling data – just as if drilling had been carried out everywhere. That saves time and money and is intended to help the experts gain an even better understanding of the reservoir.