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Saudi Aramco Launches APEX

Saudi Aramcos EXPEC Advanced Research Center (ARC) launched the Automatic Seismic Acquisition and Processing for Exploration and Production (APEX) initiative.

This new program will dramatically improve productivity, increase image quality and reduce cost. The two main objectives of APEX are to utilize robotics technology in 3D seismic data acquisition and to automate key processing tasks such as near surface and subsurface velocity estimation for seismic data processing.

With the advent of increasingly large data volumes and wireless acquisition technology it will no longer be possible to quality control data acquisition and processing with direct human interaction. Instead, fully automated processing and quality control will be performed by computers while human interaction will be limited to reviewing the automated results.

Recently, Saudi Aramco reduced the time required to pick seismic first arrivals for near surface velocity estimation from months to days for large 3D surveys by developing a fully automatic 3D technology.

In addition to growth in channel count, seismic data volume will also increase due to continuous recording associated with simultaneous source acquisition. Simultaneous sources, or blended seismic, refers to an acquisition approach where many seismic sources are being initiated pseudo-randomly in space and time such that their signals interfere with each other.

This approach can dramatically increase the productivity of seismic acquisition. In 2010, Saudi Aramco set a record of 45,000 shots in 24 hours using this concept. However, processing such data will require a significant re-evaluation of the entire processing system. Saudi Aramco will conduct work in house and will collaborate with service providers and academic institutions to achieve the APEX objectives.