News and views

Cenovus rides new seismic wave

Vibroseis technology helps improve data collection

March 2017 - We rely on seismic data to help determine the best locations to drill in our oil sands reservoirs. Previously, dynamite was routinely and safely used as the energy source for all our seismic surveys to generate an acoustic wave that travels down into our reservoirs, which are up to 400 metres underground. Some of these waves reflect back and the signals are recorded using special equipment to help us understand the characteristics of the ground below so we are better informed when we choose where to drill.

Vibroseis truck working in northern Alberta. Video footage provided by Greg MacNeil.

Enter vibroseis. Vibroseis is a truck-mounted piece of equipment that uses a vibrating plate pushed against the ground to generate the acoustic wave.

While vibroseis is not a new technology, Cenovus is using it in new ways in the oil sands by integrating vibroseis with additional technologies and software to enhance data collection and make our seismic operations more efficient. Collecting seismic data through vibroseis causes minimal ground disturbance.

“By capturing more data in a cost effective, environmentally friendly and safe manner, we can better highlight the best portions of the reservoir for development,” says Andrew Kuran, a Geophysicist working on the Foster Creek oil sands project.

Improving our accuracy and efficiency

Using vibroseis has allowed Cenovus to improve data quality by increasing the amount of seismic data that is captured on a per hectare basis by more than 500 percent compared with using dynamite. At the same time, we’ve achieved a cost reduction of more than 10 percent.

Share this page