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3 reasons to revisit EO again for Oil and Gas

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1 History, a chance to look again at EO

EO data today should be a more attractive proposition than it has previously been. I looked at an article from World Oil this week, written in 2002. It is worth a read to see how the O&G sector was using EO 14 years ago.

“Data prices have decreased. Perhaps the most dramatic price plunge is for Landsat TM data. In the 1990s, the price was $4,400 per scene. Today, it is $600.” (World Oil 2002).

In 2016 all Landsat data and all Sentinel data is freely available to anyone anywhere. There is more data today, there is more free data today and the data quality today is higher. The cost for high resolution data (HR) today is <$10 per sqkm. If the trend continues the cost of this data is only set to fall.

“Perhaps the most important trend is the growing tie between remote sensing and GIS. The only way to exploit the information extracted from remote sensing data is with a GIS system. Conversely, one of the best ways to populate a GIS system is by directly extracting information from remote sensing data. GIS systems make images and extracted information compatible with existing mapping systems..” (World Oil 2002).

 In 2016 EO data is still best exploited in a GIS system. As I have mentioned previously there are plenty of EO tools in GIS software, including machine learning, and EO is going places. There is even a python library for remote sensing data

“The range of remote sensing uses has increased in recent years, and now the role includes integration into sophisticated, quantitative, structural models; surface layers for data cubes; backdrops for GIS models; detailed fracture analyses; logistical and route planning; and environmental assessment, documentation and monitoring.” (World Oil 2002)

The problems to be solved have not changed.

2 Previous overselling of solutions

Overselling EO technology has undoubtedly negatively affected its penetration into the O&G industry. EO data adds value to existing datasets or areas of knowledge; it addresses issues that can help answer the bigger questions.

Can you use EO data to decide where to drill? No. What can help you decide? Seismic data helps answer this question, so what impacts on the quality of seismic data? Many things, but the surface is one. How do we begin to understand the surface? EO data.

How do we undertake a safe seismic acquisition? Well, knowing the terrain will allow a measurement to be taken of areas in the prospect with high risk terrain (soft ground). How do we take that measurement? EO data.

There are 225 challenges identified in EO4OG

3 Timeliness / Quality & Accuracy / Availability is improving

There are more satellites being launched every year. The number of launches is increasing at a dramatic rate. Unquestionably there is going to be more data.


Image kindly supplied by Dan Plant @ Terrabotics ©Terrabotics 2016

The way the data is delivered needs to change though. Instead of restrictions issued by the satellite suppliers, e.g. percentage of cloud cover or a certain timeframe, we need to move towards a scenario where we tell suppliers what our area of interest is and that (for example) we will buy the first cloud free image of this area that any supplier can deliver. Limitations on image size (minimum order), and shape of the area of interest have to adapt as well. Imagery should be available in whatever shape/projection/size you require. Improved spatial and temporal resolution will change the game. This week I saw that the biggest request for Landsat 9 was for improved temporal resolution – by quite some way.

When an ‘event’ occurs high quality imagery is needed asap. We can use these up to date images to respond faster and better. Environmental damage can be minimised and the scale of the problem can be grasped quickly. Being able to continuously monitor areas is a barrier waiting to be broken through.

Let’s look again at EO

Want to learn more about GIS and EO for Oil and Gas? Then my page contains all my blogs, plus case studies and links

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