Explore new collaborative ways to find oil easier

The VRGeo Consortium uses NVIDIA technology to develop new, collaborative seismic interpretation workflows

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The cylindrical i-Cone display system, showing a streamed GID map along with an annotated 2D seismic line.

Oil and gas wells are ever more difficult to find. To minimize the risk of drilling “dry holes” the interpretation of seismic data becomes more and more important and is getting increasingly complex with the vast amount of data being available from subsurface sonic measurements. The principal method geologists use to explore subsurface, besides the direct and expensive drilling, is with sound waves. The subsurface geology of prospective basins is mainly reconstructed from 2D seismic images, assisted by detailed information from any nearby wells or outcrops displaying the same sequences. The geological reconstructions are then used to identify potential traps and to assess how likely they are to contain hydrocarbons - and if so, if there is a sufficient quantity to justify drilling.

Well planning is done with appropriate visualization tools. Visualization tools are software applications which visually convey complex three-dimensional information in an intuitive fashion. Ideally these tools engage as many of the visual cues used in perceiving the 3-D world as possible. This is the place where the VRGeo Consortium, which is a consortium of the international oil and gas industry, steps in. Its main goal is the development and evaluation of interactive hardware and software technologies for visualization systems in the oil and gas industry.

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A user is operating on a 2D seismic line using a tablet. The green rectangle identifies the region the respective user is currently seeing on his tablet PC.

After discussions with the VRGeo Consortium members, the VRGeo R&D team at Fraunhofer IAIS developed a prototype application for the collaborative interpretation of 2D seismic data using multi-touch tablets. The system was designed to allow multiple users to simultaneously annotate and interpret seismic data and display the result in real-time on a large cylindrical display system called i-Cone. The system supports an arbitrary number of participants and the tablets used were driven by the powerful NVIDIA® Tegra™ 2 chip running on Android OS.

i-Cone uses surrounding screens which enhance the degree of immersion, compared to flat screens. They are curved to create a seamless transition of the projection field, and to reduce the visibility of perspective errors resulting from observer positions away from the centre of projection. The projection system is driven by a HP workstation using a NVIDIA QuadroPlex solution to drive the 4 Barco projectors in a SLI Mosaic configuration.

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Two users are working simultaneously on a 2D seismic line. The interpretations of the users are automatically shared among them and combined on the i-Cone display system.

Each seismic interpreter does have his own seismic interpretation workspace on his individual tablet PC with individual seismic interpretation results. In order to discuss these results in a joint workgroup meeting, each individual workspace can be combined and displayed in the i-Cone. With this real collaborative seismic interpretation becomes possible. The times where seismic interpreters had to rely on an operator in the background or did exchange their results through PowerPoint slides are over. “The demonstration of the system and the collaborative scenario received a very positive feedback with the possibility to allow equitable interaction amongst all participants in particular.” says Manfred Bogen, VRGeo Consortium Programme Director at Fraunhofer IAIS in Sankt Augustin, Germany.” The removal of a single operator during collaboration was rated extremely beneficial with respect to the engagement of all users. These observations suggested that multi-touch Tegra tablets have the potential to fundamentally change the way we collaborate.”

The next steps in this project will include the evaluation of 2 other suggested scenarios and discussions with the experts in the O&G domain, like Eni, ExxonMobil and Landmark Halliburton, on how to integrate the system into their daily work.

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