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Geofencing and Exploration

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The aim of a seismic survey is to map the subsurface in the most detailed and efficient way, mapping the reservoir so that critical decisions, such as choosing a drilling location, can be made with increased confidence. Definition of the target and an understanding of the quality of data that can be achieved in the area are critical factors. In an ideal world a dense carpet of sources and receivers could be planned in a grid and data acquired in a nice linear way. This of course is never the case and the surface, or events at the surface, prevent this from happening.

Geofencing is a virtual fence that is always in existence. As soon as someone/something enters the geofenced area, that ‘object’ receives a notification. This is a big idea in retail; you walk into your favourite store and your phone receives a message saying, for example, “welcome to ‘Andy’s Pizza Parlour’ – use this message to receive a 10% discount on any pizza, show the code at the till”. This is a good way to reward your customers, a good way to incentivise them to purchase and a good way of tracking what your customers are doing. Geofencing, I assume, is also how the electronic tagging of prisoners monitors whether they are breaching conditions of their release.

Image copied from here (

Image copied from here (

Errr ok, but what has this got to do with the Oilfield?

Permit databases, ones that list landowners and contain information about whether permission has been granted or not, are very useful in planning a seismic survey. A Geofence could be used to identify when a crew vehicle enters an area they don’t have permission to be in. It could be even smarter; a buffer could exist that warns drivers they are 100m away from an unpermitted area and warns again when within 20m, perhaps.

A geofence could also trigger an event that logs when and where the vehicle went inside a parcel of land. For example, this could later be checked against permitted distances from buildings for seismic sources to ensure no damage was caused by the survey. This information could be stored in a Geodatabase and greatly aid communication with land owners.

A geofence could be used in protected or environmentally sensitive areas; again drivers are notified when they are about to enter a protected parcel of land. In short, a geofence can provide a proactive approach to acquiring a seismic survey in a safe, permitted way.

What if?

What if you could adjust the energy going into the surface based on the terrain or conditions at the surface by using a terrain model as a base for creating a geofence(s)? Once a vibroseis truck enters a different terrain, as defined by a geofence, the source could be automatically adjusted to match the terrain.

What if potential drilling locations could be identified pre survey? These locations could be buffered and these buffers made into geofences. The seismic crew would know when entering this area that it is a critical location for the client. Or what if subsurface geofences could be identified and translated to the surface? Perhaps these could identify faults or changes in geological structure. These areas might help identify seismic data quality changes.

If you have a GPS enabled device, a polygon defined area and a way (there are so many options) of resolving the point in polygon problem, geofencing would be relatively simple to implement.

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