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Earth Explorer is an online source of news, expertise and applied knowledge for resource explorers and earth scientists. Sponsored by Geosoft.


News & Views

News Archive

February 25, 2015

NexGen Drills Best Angled Hole to Date: Discovers New High Grade Zone at Arrow

NexGen Energy Ltd. announced ongoing results from their winter 2015 drilling program at their our 100% owned Rook I property, Athabasca Basin, Saskatchewan...

February 24, 2015

Phase II drilling underway on Kootenay's La Negra

Kootenay Silver Inc. announced that camp upgrades are complete and Phase II drilling has now commenced on its La Negra Silver discovery, contained within the Promontorio Mineral Belt in Sonora, Mexico...

February 23, 2015

Explorer Speaker Series at the PDAC

Geosoft's Explorer Speaker Series at the PDAC 2015 includes presentations on Peregrine's Chidliak Project and Cameco's initiatives to increase efficiency and 'harvest time' through data organization…...

February 18, 2015

Largest Dam Removal in U.S. History Scientifically Characterized

The effects of dam removal are better known as a result of several new studies released this week by government, tribal and university researchers...

February 18, 2015

Exeter outlines the significance of its Caspiche Project water discovery

Exeter Resource Corporation has announced further positive results from the expanded water exploration drilling program for its Caspiche gold-copper project in northern Chile...

February 17, 2015

Earthstar Geographics Releases Arctic Ocean 15-Meter Satellite Imagery Mosaic

In response to the rapidly increasing demand for high quality geodata of the Arctic Ocean, Earthstar Geographics LLC has compiled a detailed satellite imagery mosaic of the entire region and released it in map projections optimized for visualizing the northern polar areas...

February 11, 2015

Geophysics and Geology together for Discovery: Geosoft at ASEG-PESA

Geosoft's program for the ASEG-PESA, February 15-18 in Perth, includes a workshop on practical geophysical workflows for resolving common problems in minerals targeting...

February 9, 2015

Pilot Gold Reports Final 2014 Results from Columbaz Discovery at TV Tower

Pilot Gold announced the final 2014 results from its third gold rich porphyry discovery at TV Tower, located 6.5 kilometres north of the Valley and Hilltop porphyries...

February 5, 2015

Coastal Gold finds the high grade

Coastal Gold has defined a high grade resource at its 100%-owned Hope Brook gold deposit in Newfoundland by developing a 3D model that has tighter constraints and focuses on higher grade drill results.

February 4, 2015

Non-seismic Geophysics

Finding Petroleum is hosting a half-day event on the role of non-seismic geophysical techniques. Are they coming of age? Reserve your space for this free event, being held in London, February 19.

January 27, 2015

Factors Driving 2015 U.S. Oil Output

Rig counts are a highly imperfect guide to future oil production but they are one of the few readily available statistics on oilfield activity so it is unwise to dismiss their importance entirely...

January 23, 2015

Will 2015 Break this ‘Dry Spell’ for New Discoveries?

Steve Todoruk, a broker with Sprott Global Resource Investments, explained in Sprott’s Thoughts recently why ‘juniors’ should look for new discoveries by drilling into the unexplored depths near existing mines...

January 20, 2015

Eni Wins Two Exploration Licenses in Norway

Italian oil and gas group Eni said on Tuesday it had won two exploration licenses in the Barents sea and in the North Sea in Norway...

January 9, 2015

WVU, USGS collaboration sheds new light on coal-cleaning chemicals found in the 2014 Elk River Spill

A collaboration between the U.S. Geological Service and West Virginia University has resulted in a better understanding of the chemicals that spilled into the Elk River in 2014, affecting the drinking water of 300,000 Charleston-area residents...

January 7, 2015

Precipitate's Phase 2 IP Survey Extends Ginger Ridge Chargeability Anomaly Additional 800 metres North

Precipitate Gold Corp announced results from its recently completed Phase 2 induced polarization ("IP") geophysical survey at the Ginger Ridge Zone within the Company's Juan de Herrera project in the Dominican Republic...

December 18, 2014

IGC's completion of Eastern Seaboard regional integrated interpretation package

Integrated Geophysics Corporation (IGC) announced today the successful completion their Eastern Seaboard regional integrated interpretation package. Designed for oil and gas companies needing a First Pass Look at the regional tectonics and structural trends for this new frontier...

December 10, 2014

Advances in base of salt and sub-salt imaging, Geosoft releases VALEM HPC inversion modelling

Integrated within Geosoft’s GM-SYS 3D Modelling software program, VALEM is an improved, interactive solution for sub-salt interpretation that resolves the base of salt from gravity data bound by the constraints of seismic modelling...

December 03, 2014

Petrobras makes deepwater discovery in Colombian Caribbean

Petrobras reported the discovery of a natural gas accumulation with the Orca-1 exploratory well drilled on the Tayrona block in the deepwater Caribbean Sea, 40 km offshore La Guajira, Colombia...

Petrobras Deepwater Discovery Success

With its roots in exploration 55 years ago, Petrobras has matured into a world renowned integrated oil company without losing its explorer focus, leading the world in deepwater expertise.


Petrobras discoveries in the Santos Basin reinforce the notion that there is
decreased exploration risk in the pre-salt layer


Petrobras Director of Exploration and Production, Guilherme Estrella,
collects the first oil from Platform P-52: November 2007.


New Oil Accumulation Discovered in the Santos Basin Pre-Salt Layer: May, 2008


Petrobras’ P 51 is the first semi-submersible platform built entirely in Brazil
Photos courtesy of Petrobras.

By Graham Chandler

Petrobras is a perfect fit for exploration and production geophysicist Julio Lyrio, who joined the Brazilian company in 1987, "What makes Petrobras different from many other companies in the industry is the fact that it was born as an exploration enterprise," says Lyrio. "Fortunately this focus on exploration has not changed." To this day the company's main objective has been to discover where the oil is in Brazil. "The recent pre-salt discoveries are a validation of this dedication," he says.

Petrobras has a strong world presence in the oil and gas industry: it can boast the largest market value in Latin America, with nearly 70,000 employees operating in 27 countries; and two and half million barrels equivalent per day of production.

Significantly, it's a technological leader, recognized especially in the highly challenging deepwater exploration and production environments. "Challenge is our energy," quotes the company's website.

The pre-salt discoveries Lyrio refers to are recently-announced findings from those cutting-edge research techniques: in the Santos Basin 300 kilometres off the southeastern coast of the country and 7,000 metres below the South Atlantic Ocean surface. Potential is up to 33 billion barrels or more—some of the world's largest ever—of light sweet crude oil. Just finding them was a challenge. Beneath two kilometres of ocean water lies a post-salt layer (so-called because it was laid down later than the salt layer) half a kilometre thick, then another two kilometres of salt before reaching the pre-salt layer which contains the oil deposit.

That it was a challenge to find is an understatement. That post-salt layer is made up of high velocity rocks that can make it almost impossible to seismically image formations below them, because seismic waves in the salt have such a different velocity than the rocks above. And this is where integration of gravity and magnetics with seismic data were used to advantage.

Lyrio has learned the value of extensive integration of exploratory tools to reduce risk and enhance successes. "Gravity and magnetics have contributed effectively as tools to support interpretation that can produce quick results with low cost and reduced environmental impact," he says.

With the world of oil and gas exploration needing increasing sophistication as the easier deposits have been largely found and exploited, the importance of new and complex methods becomes paramount.

"The exploitation of hydrocarbons presents a growing demand in terms of technological innovations, particularly the software," says Lyrio. "In the field of geophysics, technological solutions that integrate different geophysical methods in exploration have become increasingly important." More and more today, gravity and magnetics are often shot well before bringing in the seismic equipment.

And the techniques are no longer restricted primarily to exploration of virgin territory either. Today, gravity and magnetic methods are being used in Brazil for re-evaluation of mature fields to extend production. Lyrio says Petrobras is using new and advanced gravimetric and magnetic interpretation in regions where environmental issues hamper the use of other geophysical methods such as seismic.

"In earlier times it was believed that the role of potential methods was limited to the initial stages of exploration," he says, such as delineation of basins and major geological structures. "With with the development of interpretation techniques, the availability of specialized software, new techniques for data acquisition, and development of measuring instruments, potential methods have expanded the exploratory process." He says Petrobras uses these potential methods where other methods present difficulties. Potential methods help the interpreters in mapping intra-sedimentary structures such as salt and volcanic spills, for example.

Lyrio describes a case where gravity data became a decisive factor in validating seismic. "During the interpretation of seismic data in a determined area, an important geological structure was defined," he explains. "But with the conversion of [seismic] data in time for depth, the mapped structure suffered significant modifications in terms of direction, and the interpreters were uncertain whether the new direction of the structure was real or only an artifact." He says once the gravity data were incorporated, the new structure was readily validated.

Choosing the right software for situations like this is critical in smoothing and speeding the interpretation process. "Petrobras uses the most advanced software in the market for potential fields," says Lyrio.  About 80 percent of the company's gravity and magnetic projects use the Geosoft platform for interpretation, preparation of maps and grids, and assembly of the database.

"The great advantage of using the Geosoft platform is the fact that it provides the ability for tight integration, from the database through to the preparation of the maps," says Lyrio.  "This has eliminated the need for multiple software and the constant migration of information from one program to another." The variety of software platforms with which Geosoft interacts makes it easy to exchange information between other exploration systems used by the company.
Another advantage that Lyrio likes: the software runs on a PC. "That's a benefit over other programs that require specific hardware," he says. Finally, he says it's very user friendly which makes the platform attractive to new users.

"The variety of tools available for processing and interpreting our gravity and magnetic data, and ease of application, allows us to achieve project completion in a short period of time," he says.

Petrobras' solution also includes company-developed software. "We have developed our own technology," he says, "mainly where the specialized functionality we require isn't commercially available."

Lyrio sees continued growth in the use of potential methods in geophysics well into the future, with a continuing resurgence in their application to hydrocarbon exploration. The reason he says lies in the increasingly complex geological problems being faced and the improved equipment available for dealing with them. He sees one of the largest changes on the horizon to be a change in scale—potential methods will no longer be mainly confined to the broader picture of major features, but will become a viable option for acquiring detail in more specific situations. "A consequence of this will be a bigger demand for technology to deal with integration of exploration methods," he says, "since the goals will be ever smaller and more difficult to interpret."