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Prospect Development

Completing a developed prospect usually involves utilizing multiple confirming geological, geophysical or geochemical technologies:

Seismic Surveys - Seismic surveying is based on the simple concept that sound waves will travel through different geological structures at different speeds that can be measured by time. In conducting a seismic survey, a shock or sound wave is created using a thumper truck or even explosives drilled into the ground.

The sound waves travel under the ground and are reflected back by the various rock layers. These reflections travel at different speeds depending upon the type or rock and the density of the rock layers they pass through. The seismic receiving truck reads and records these sound waves as they are detected by listening devices called geophones.

2D Seismic - Two-dimensional seismic lines are created by laying the geophones out in a single line.

3D Seismic - A 3-D seismic survey is basically a dense grid of 2-D lines.

4D Seismic - Adds a time lapse variable to 3D seismic, performing repeated 3D seismic surveys over a producing hydrocarbon field over time.

Reprocessing Seismic Data - Using computer models to clean up and enhance seismic data.

Geochemical Techniques - The modern day version of Dingmans Ferry seeps detection described above. Analysis of soil samples at the surface is correlated to petroleum accumulation at depth.

Radar Gas Imaging - The underlying assumption of this technology is that hydrocarbons are generated and/or trapped at depth and leak in varying but detectable quantities to the surface. Gas sensing instruments are flown over an area to look for hydrocarbons seeping from the earth.

Magnetic Surveys - Most oil occurs in sedimentary rocks that are nonmagnetic. Igneous and metamorphic rocks rarely contain oil and are highly magnetized. By conducting a magnetic survey over a given area, a prospector can determine where oil-bearing sedimentary rock is more likely to be found.

These are but a few of the many technologies employed today in the quest to find oil and gas reserves. The acquisition and analysis of these technological surveys is quite capital intensive. Purchased 3D seismic surveys, as an example, can cost in the range of $15,000 to more than $40,000 per square mile. Conducting a proprietary seismic shoot is even more costly.

The cost of these technologies, however, pale in comparison to leasing acreage and drilling a well. Relatively small dollars invested in confirming technologies improves an operator's chance of success and preserves capital that would otherwise be wasted prospecting with a drill bit.

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