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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

June 26, 2015

Where Big Data Jobs Are In 2015 - Midyear Update

Professional, scientific and technical services, information (IT), and manufacturing are the three industries doing the most Big Data-related hiring as of June, 2015...

June 25, 2015

Coiled Tubing Drill Rig Modified for H Coil

Trials of a new Coiled Tubing Drill Rig are underway in Australia. These rigs use a continuous, flexible tube, rather than drill rods, for faster, safer drilling at just 50c per meter...

June 17, 2015

First gas production from L6-B in the Dutch North Sea

Wintershall is expanding its natural gas production in the Netherlands: the unmanned mini-platform L6-B has started to produce natural gas off the Dutch North Sea coast. The first so called "Minimum Facility”...

June 16, 2015

Worldwide water quality app hits the web

Former Copernicus Masters competition winner EOMAP has launched the first harmonised, high-resolution inland water quality monitoring service based on satellite data...

June 15, 2015

Results from hole AR-15-44b add substantial size to NexGen's rapidly developing Arrow zone

NexGen reported on assay results for angled hole AR-15-44b from the successful winter 2015 program at the Arrow zone on its 100% owned Rook I property, Athabasca Basin, Saskatchewan...

April 29, 2015

Signs of life in mineral exploration

The latest Monthly Industry Monitor from SNL Metals & Mining reports a welcome improvement in exploration activity in March....

April 28, 2015

High Priority Drill Targets Defined On Margaret Lake Property

Margaret Lake Diamonds Inc. in conjunction with its geophysical consultants, has completed a review of airborne gravity gradiometry ("AGG") data acquired for the Margaret Lake property in late 2014. The data review has identified 12 high priority targets that require evaluation by drilling...

April 23, 2015

Junior Mining Companies Have Taken A Senior Role

For the past decade, junior mining companies have outperformed senior miners at finding new mineral deposits in Canada and generating wealth for investors...

April 23, 2015

Is This Where Investors Should Be Looking When Oil Recovers?

When oil prices recover - and plenty of analysts think the climb back up will start soon - Canada's western frontier of Saskatchewan and neighboring Alberta will 'still have the edge', according to a report from TD Economics...

April 20, 2015

Exploring new options

In Mining Magazine's April 2015 Issue, Assistant Editor Aibhe Goodbody examines how innovations in mineral exploration are even more important during a downturn, and what's new in exploration drilling and software...

April 17, 2015

Cameco strikes deal to provide India with 7.1 million pounds of uranium

Cameco's first contract with India gives it access to the world's second-fastest-growing consumer of uranium just behind China...

April 8, 2015

New data on DAP: SRTM 30m for Europe and Africa

Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) 1 Arc-Second Global elevation data at a resolution of 1 arc-second (30 meters) are now available for Europe and Africa on the Geosoft Public DAP Server...

April 7, 2015

IBAAS 2015 symposium focuses on development of aluminium industry in China

The International Bauxite, Alumina & Aluminium Society (IBAAS) is hosting an international symposium on "The Development and Future of Aluminium Industry in China - Reality and Dream” November 25-27, in cooperation with the China Aluminium International Engineering Corporation Limited (CHALIECO) and Suzhou Research Institute for Non-ferrous Metals Co. Ltd (SINR)...

March 26, 2015

Medgold and Centerra Start Drilling at Lagares, Portugal

Medgold's first drilling campaign on the Lagares project in Portugal, a 3,000 metre diamond core drilling program, started yesterday targeting high-grade gold mineralization identified from recent channel-chip sampling. The Lagares project is joint ventured to Centerra Gold Inc...

February 27, 2015

Massive Amounts of Saharan Dust Fertilize the Amazon Rainforest

Every year, millions of tons of nutrient-rich Saharan dust cross the Atlantic Ocean, bringing vital phosphorus and other fertilizers to depleted Amazon soils. New study quantifies the connection between Earth's largest temperate desert and its largest tropical rainforest...

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...

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."