EXPLORATION


A.) Services to the Oil and Gas Exploration Industry

GISL Limited have been intimately involved in the development and application of sophisticated data handling and analysis methodologies to various components of the oil and gas exploration industry. The major focus of this involvement has been in the introduction and widespread use of complex but easy-to-use commercial software programmes for the capture, storage, retrieval, manipulation, analysis and dissemination of what is generically termed remotely sensed data.

Traditionally, the disparate data sets that represent the workhorse of the oil and gas exploration industry have been difficult to bring together in a coherent and beneficial manner. With the evolution of additional data gathering techniques the need to implement tools that collate and allow analysis of such data in a cost-effective manner have become ever more critical.

Aerial magnetics, seismics, RADAR, Landsat and SPOT data, airborne videography, aerial photography and a variety of geophysical data are the products of a complex range of technologies. However, they can all be represented in image form in a computer and thus also in printed form; they can also be given geographic coordinates allowing integration with terrestrial, marine and other maps and the aspatial attribute datasets found in reports.

As a long-established user (and the first purchaser of the product under Windows NT), GISL Limited have very well developed understanding of ERMapper image processing software and of its role in processing and visualising the diversity of geophysical datasets. Staff have worked closely with the likes of BP, BHP and others in the global exploration community to perform complex multi-data processing that was once the domain of a select few. This combination of technology, methodology and human resource represents an attractive solution in the provision of cost-effective services to the industry.

Relevant activities would include:

- save time and money in planning field exploration and logistics

- without well data, can combine various high resolution SPOT and MK-4 datasets with topographic, seismic, geological and outcrop data to narrow the exploration reconnaissance effort

- lay out seismic surveys of target areas on this basis

- combine gridded seismic data with well information and surface vector data to detect correlations representing potential areas

- use intensity-hue-saturation (IHS) and pseudo-colour displays to view seismic data as sub-surface topography

- apply IHS transforms with Landsat data to discriminate surface and sub-surface features such as lineations

- links to Landmark, ORACLE, Arc/INFO to access databases and vector datasets for correlation with surface features such as oil seeps identified by multi-temporal processing of Landsat, SPOT and ERS-1 data and subsequent identification of surface and sub-surface features such as faults

- appreciation of role of specialist packages such as ImageWorks and Charisma in the collation and analysis of seismic data

- source of management and planning difficulties and costly legislative battles

- image based block mapping by supervising agency with dissemination of near-photographic products to all operators

- relies on integration of raster, vector and GPS data

- operator's responsibility to know block extents and develop accordingly

- increasingly fundamental to the exploration industry as they fall under the environmental spotlight

- integration of:

* exploration potential parameters with licence block boundaries

* shoreline-oil interactions (including persistence and burial)

* sensitivity of biotic communities

* other vector maps (soils, infrastructure, hydrogeology, drainage etc.)

* relevant field data

* habitat maps (from satellite and airphoto interpretation backed up by field work)

* ancillary data

to produce operational base map as an integral part of a National Oil Spill Contingency Plan;

this would allow implementation strategies to be drawn up, allowing high risk areas of both operations and impacts can be identified (and in the case of operations mitigated where possible) so that, in the event of an accident:

* oil spill characteristics can be identified

* oil spill response measures can be planned

* appropriate response measures are implemented in good time

* observation programmes allow an on-going assessment of the impacts on marine, freshwater and terrestrial habitats

- understanding the present is the key to the past

- depositional and deltaic environments hold the keys to the patterns and processes involved in forming structures associated with hydrocarbon traps

- mapping sediment flow and deposition using multi-temporal datasets in rivers and in terrestrial features such as mud volcanoes

Acquisition of the required data is a necessary prerequisite for effective implementation; data access, confidentiality, security can all be hindrances to the development of an operational system whether it be for exploration or sensitivity mapping.

In such programmes it is essential to address the objectives, needs and capabilities of the client so that the proposed solution responds to the technical and institutional challenges of effective implementation.

Issues that need to be addressed include but would not be limited to:

- this might include the use of satellite data, aerial photography, airborne videography, GPS, design of sampling proformas with individual specialists (for environmental work as well as for well, wireline and seismic logs) and the development of suitable field strategies in inaccessible/unmapped areas

- availability of trained manpower

- availability of maintenance facilities

- awareness of computers and computer based technologies

- such systems are increasingly computer based

- management information

- geographic information

- economic information

- engineering information

- data only becomes information when the user perceives that the collated data has value and then uses that data to help make decisions

GISL have powerful in-house data processing facilities comprising UNIX workstations with image processing and GIS software as well as digitisers and large format plotters to speed-up intermediate operations if necessary.

With experience in the use of many of the programmes used in day-to-day analysis of the multiplicity of datasets used by the oil and gas industry, in the design and implementation of environmental mapping and monitoring projects particularly in the coastal margin (Yemen, Belize, Barbados) and in the manipulation of attribute data through powerful relational databases such as ORACLE, GISL are able to offer a complete suite of capability to clients seeking technical assistance in any of these areas.


B.) Services to the Mineral Exploration Industry


Traditionally, the data sources that represent the workhorse of the mineral exploration industry, notably geological survey and aerial photography have been difficult to bring together in a coherent, efficient and cost-effective manner. With the evolution of more sophisticated data gathering techniques the need to implement tools that collate and allow analysis of such data in a cost-effective manner have become ever more critical. This is particularly true as the search for mineral deposits moves to ever more remote and unexplored areas and the competition to map, develop and bring to market new deposits intensifies.

Aerial magnetics, seismics, RADAR, Landsat and SPOT data, airborne videography, aerial photography and a variety of geophysical data are the products of a complex range of technologies, many if not all derived in digital form. This latter characteristic enables all such data to be visualised in a computer providing a powerful interface for interpretation, synthesis, analysis and understanding. Further, by collating the disparate data in a geographical framework using map coordinates, data collected at different scales are easily integrated with each other and with secondary data sources including topographic, geological and thematic maps and the aspatial attribute data found in reports.

GISL Limited have been intimately involved in the development and application of sophisticated data handling and analysis methodologies to the oil and gas exploration industry. The major focus of this involvement has been in the introduction and widespread use of complex but easy-to-use commercial software programmes for the capture, storage, retrieval, manipulation, analysis and dissemination of what is generically termed remotely sensed data. Many of the techniques used in both the oil and gas and the hydrogeological sectors are similar to that in the mineral exploration business.

As a long-established user (and the first purchaser of the product under Windows NT), GISL Limited have very well developed understanding of ERMapper image processing software and of its role in visualising and processing the diversity of geological, remotely sensed and geophysical data sets. Staff have worked closely with the likes of BP, BHP and others in the global exploration community to perform complex multi-data processing that was once the domain of a select few. This combination of technology, methodology and human resource represents an attractive solution in the provision of cost-effective services to the industry.

Relevant activities would include:

traditional data capture for planning terrestrial exploration

- save time and money in planning field exploration and logistics

- without bore-hole data, can combine various high resolution SPOT and MK-4 data sets with topographic, seismic, geological and outcrop data to narrow the exploration reconnaissance effort

- lay out seismic surveys of target areas on this basis

- use techniques such as colour-draping, sun-angle illumination and 3-D modelling to visualise the sub-surface terrain in a way never before possible

integration of raster and vector data sets to pinpoint exploration targets

- combine gridded seismic data with borehole information and surface vector data to detect correlations representing potential areas

- use intensity-hue-saturation (IHS) and pseudo-colour displays to view seismic data as sub-surface topography

- apply IHS transforms with Landsat data to discriminate surface and sub-surface features such as lineations

- links to Landmark, ORACLE, Arc/INFO to access databases and vector data sets for correlation with surface features such as vegetation characteristics identified by multi-temporal processing of Landsat, SPOT and ERS-1 data and subsequent identification of surface and sub-surface features such as faults

- appreciation of role of specialist packages such as ImageWorks and Charisma in the collation and analysis of seismic data

licence block mapping and monitoring

- source of management and planning difficulties and costly legislative battles

- image based block mapping by supervising agency with dissemination of near-photographic products to all operators

- relies on integration of raster, vector and GPS data

- operator's responsibility to know block extents and develop accordingly

environmental sensitivity index mapping

- increasingly fundamental to the exploration industry as they fall under the environmental spotlight

- integration of:

* exploration potential parameters with licence block boundaries

* nature of biotic communities

* other vector maps (soils, infrastructure, hydrogeology, drainage etc.)

* relevant field data

* habitat maps (from satellite and airphoto interpretation backed up by field work)

* ancillary data

Operational base maps would be produced identifying:

- areas of proposed activity

- the types of activity and associated risks

- the sensitivity of homogeneous environmental units/biotic communities to those risks

- the nature of the response measure required should accidents occur

In many countries such an approach has become an integral part of fundamental obligations under legislation dealing with environmental impact assessment and contingency planning (relating especially to leachates from extractive processes - mercury, alkalis and so on). It ensures that implementation strategies are prepared, allowing high risk areas of both operations and impacts to be identified (and in the case of operations mitigated where possible) so that, in the event of an accident:

* characteristics of both the accident and the impacted areas can be identified

* response measures can be planned

* appropriate response measures are implemented in good time

* observation programmes allow an on-going assessment of the impacts on marine, freshwater and terrestrial habitats

The preparation of and participation in Environmental Statements (ES), Environmental Appraisals (EA) and Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) require a combination of desk top studies, collection of field data, review of appropriate legislation, public consultation and the need, as directed, to identify the need for and specification of mitigation measures, development alternatives and outstanding environmental issues.

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) offer the power and flexibility to enable all those involved to make decisions based upon all the information available. Close consultation with the relevant specialists ensures that appropriate weights are assigned to the various environmental variables; the subsequent filtering and presentation of the collected data as a series of options encourages full discussion and evaluation.

While there are assuredly costs associated with complying with such regulations, the developer benefits through the establishment not only of excellent mitigation and emergency response measures but also by being seen to be taking the initiative. The current ecological survey of the Niger Delta is an excellent example of this.

geological feature mapping

- understanding the present is the key to the past

- many countries geological survey departments have installed GIS systems and established a digital database of geological maps; these offer the exploration geologist fresh scope in evaluating reality

- faults and linear features are frequently indicative of the stresses and processes associated with different types of mineralisation

asset mapping and facilities management

- maintain site integrity during development activities

- monitor extraction and processing plant

Facilities within a mineral development site include a series of infrastructure networks consisting of a series of links and nodes with discrete characteristics - water supply, electricity, sewage, wastewater and treatment effluent and roadways. Effective operation of these facilities demands that leakage is minimised and that the system transports material safely and efficiently from source to destination. This demands that maintenance and management teams are able to monitor and service the network - pipes, drains, pumps, joints, valves, stop-cocks, stilling ponds, treatment works, pylons, transformers, gradients etc. Every component of this system has specific characteristics - location, width/ diameter, capacity, throughput, chemical composition, material, age etc. - that determine maintenance requirements such as lubrication, replacement, servicing and cleaning.

Service providers in Europe and North America have responded to the complexity and demands of such networks through the establishment of sophisticated information systems that permit the network to be monitored (where real-time or regular data are obtained within the network), maintenance needs to be met and problems responded to.

site restoration

- base-line resource mapping of licence blocks will permit natural factors to be recorded, preserved or moved and/or re-established as site development occurs

- visual impacts during and subsequent to development can be minimised

Acquisition of the required data is a necessary prerequisite for effective implementation; data access, confidentiality, security can all be hindrances to the development of an operational system whether it be for exploration or sensitivity mapping.

In such programmes it is essential to address the objectives, needs and capabilities of the client so that the proposed solution responds to the technical and institutional challenges of effective implementation.

Issues that need to be addressed include but would not be limited to:

identification of data requirements, sources and gaps

establishment of appropriate data collection methodologies

- this might include the use of satellite data, aerial photography, airborne videography, GPS, design of sampling proformas with individual specialists (for environmental work as well as for borehole and seismic logs) and the development of suitable field strategies in inaccessible/unmapped areas

identification of organisational constraints

- availability of trained manpower

- availability of maintenance facilities

- awareness of computers and computer based technologies

design and implementation of appropriate data handling solutions

- such systems are increasingly computer based

- geological, geophysical and other exploration data

- remotely sensed data

- management information

- engineering information

- data only becomes information when the user perceives that the collated data has value and then uses that data to help make decisions

system specification, procurement and installation

training - on-the-job, formal and awareness type programmes to address different requirements within an organisation

development of application suitable to needs of the organisation

While GISL have the utmost integrity it is not uncommon for certain clients, those in the exploration, defence and retail sectors being perhaps the most obvious, to carry out all data acquisition and processing activities internally. In this context GISL have powerful in-house data processing facilities comprising UNIX workstations with image processing and GIS software as well as digitisers and large format plotters to speed-up certain data-processing operations if necessary.

However, what GISL can offer mineral exploration organisations is:

technical assistance in establishing effective in-house solutions to the type of exploration, mapping and site development issues outlined above

ERMapper distributor in West Africa

an archive of Landsat TM data for Ethiopia, Ghana and parts of the Middle East

an established reputation in needs assessment, systems analysis, specification and installation

training

With offices in Ghana and Namibia as well as in the UK, GISL represent the foremost GIS and remote sensing consultancy dedicated to the geoscience and natural resource sectors.