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Deep vertical imaging reduces uncertainty of subsurface properties for onshore wells

Project Summary

Better understanding subsurface is critical, particularly reducing uncertainties. Adrok’s Atomic Di-Electric Resonance (ADR) Technology has been developed to better define the subsurface stratigraphy, reducing uncertainty and increasing the potential of hydrocarbon discovery and recovery.

Ground penetrating radar (GPR) is a mature technology with many civil engineering, geotechnical and mining applications in imaging human-made and natural materials just below the ground surface. Almost all applications are restricted to imaging the subsurface to a rather shallow depth: large losses of signal occur when propagating through materials with free ions. These conductive losses are determined by the soil conductivity. However, in environments where these losses are low, the depth penetration of GPR increases dramatically, allowing imaging up to depths of several kilometres, for example, through the polar ice on Mars and Antarctica.

To extend the depth range of conventional GPR surveys, a radar-based imaging technology has been developed that measures atomic dielectric resonance (ADR) in the subsurface. ADR technology measures subsurface (i) dielectric permittivity; (ii) spectral (energy, frequency and phase); and (iii) material resonance, from ground level without physically boring the ground. ADR is a patented investigative technique which involves the measurement and interpretation of resonant energy responses of natural or synthetic materials to the interaction of pulsed electromagnetic radio waves from materials which permit the applied energy to pass through the material. The technology can be trained on known geology to build up a reference database, which is then used to classify data collected at new locations.

ADR measurements can be presented in outputs resembling: (i) stratigraphy (like seismic imagery); (ii) information on rock characteristics (like well logs); and (iii) rock petrography (like cores). There have been good results obtained using a field portable system that can acquire sufficient measurements at a series of surface locations for subsequent data processing and mapping. In trials the ADR technology has precisely identified oil, gas, water, rock types and minerals, penetrating the earth to depth’s where commercial hydrocarbons are found with high vertical resolution and definition.

In partnership with NZTC, Adrok conducted controlled onshore UK oil and gas surveys to demonstrate current ADR technology capabilities for directly identifying subsurface hydrocarbons and lithologies at two different geological basins. Support for the trial has been secured from Cuadrilla Resources, who will provide access to one of their operational locations in Lancashire, as well as from Transgas who have offered access to one of their locations in the Weald Basin in the South of England.

Industry value:
The application of this technology allows operators to determine reservoir properties without having to drill a well – saving both cost and time during the drilling process.

Key results:
Field trials were undertaken with the aim to develop ADR as a viable UK onshore tool for directly identifying subsurface hydrocarbons and lithology from ground level. The trials were successful in developed inferred lithology columns with fluid composition, demonstrating technology validation and repeatability of performance in an operational setting.

Lessons learned:
The project allowed Adrok to develop its ADR technology, while trialling hardware, software and methodology improvements in real operating environments. The project successfully demonstrated that ADR is a viable UK onshore tool for identifying subsurface hydrocarbons from ground level.

Adrok has also worked cross-sector, trialling their ADR technology at a gold, copper and zinc resource project in Wester Ross providing game-changing, non-intrusive survey capabilities for mineral exploration.

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