For the billion-dollar oil and gas industry, success depends not only on discovering new wells, but on obtaining and analyzing accurate geophysical data. We sat down with MagiQ Technologies’ Jakob Haldorsen to learn how the company’s optical sensors are aiming to change the energy extraction game.
Nice to meet you Jakob. Can you tell us about your background?
Much of my education and career has been focused on helping organizations analyze, interpret, and solve problems related to geophysical data. Between 2011 and 2019 I was Chief Scientist at READ AS, where I helped them re-formulate how passive seismic data was analyzed and interpreted. Before that I spent about 30 years working as an innovator for Schlumberger, a global leader in oilfield services and equipment.
When did you join MagiQ Technologies and what is your role?
I joined MagiQ Technologies in 2019 as Scientific Adviser and Director of Business Development. My key focus will be developing new methods for borehole seismic and micro-seismic data analysis and interpretation.
We recently hired Rick Metzbower to the geophysics team as well. Rick will be building and developing optical acoustic sensor systems as we ramp up field testing activities.
And what will you be doing?
Our team will be driving the development of MagiQ’s optical sensing technology for oil and gas exploration. Basically, I’ll be working with the MagiQ team to refine our technology into a viable business.
Perfect. So how did you become interested in working for MagiQ Technologies?
I’ve spent years working for various organizations focused on seismology, and ways to improve how they obtain and analyze data to effectively monitor petroleum and gas reservoirs. Seismic surveillance is critical to the energy industry, as it provides an accurate picture of a reservoir’s shape, size and other characteristics to maximize extraction.
When I heard about MagiQ Technologies and the work they were doing with optical sensors versus DAS, Geophones and other traditional approaches, I wanted to be involved.
Why is seismic data so important?
Energy companies spend billions of dollars every year obtaining seismic data, because extraction rates believe it or not, are notoriously low. Despite the use of advanced technology such as Distributed Acoustic Sensors (DAS), extraction rates are often as low as 15%. There’s plenty of room for improvement. Energy organizations are always on the lookout for ways to optimize resources and investments.
Can you briefly describe for our readers the challenges of using traditional data acquisition methods like DAS?
Well, there’s a variety of challenges using traditional methods. Geophones and DAS technologies have been around for years. And while they provide certain benefits when monitoring conventional wells, cost and accuracy are often compromised when things get complicated in the field.
Geophones for example, require regular servicing due to their complex packaging and exposed mechanics, and need to be frequently serviced or replaced as reservoir environments get hotter, and more rugged. DAS on the other hand use optical fiber technology. This may help on the maintenance side, but there are often accuracy issues. DAS doesn’t provide a 3C acoustical signal and often don’t do well in detecting low frequency sounds. This can degrade data quality.
And high-quality data is what it’s all about, correct?
Absolutely. Good data provides many benefits. From an economic point of view, accurate data provides better intelligence on reservoir characteristics such as where and how much oil or gas is contained in a well. Knowing this enables fuel companies to maximize output and deliver a better return on their investment. It’s why they do what they do as a business.
Is lower cost the only benefit?
There’s also an important safety aspect. Seismic data can provide early detection of tremors, rock settlements and even gas leaks which could spell disaster for field crews. Bad data has many financial and safety ramifications.
So now the big question. How does MagiQ approach these problems?
For many years, MagiQ Technologies has been innovating across many industries by exploiting optical science versus traditional electronic approaches. Like DAS and geophones, our GeoLite Sensors are used for downhole monitoring and data extraction from oil and gas reservoirs, with some key differences. Our sensor arrays are thinner in diameter (approximately 1.8”) with fewer exposed mechanics and parts to break, overheat, or fail. All the machinery and data acquisition electronics remain above ground, which equates to less maintenance, fewer replacements, and therefore lower costs.
Our optical systems enable higher temperature and pressure installations that aren’t possible with traditional sensing equipment. We can also go deeper for longer periods of time.
How accurate is MagiQ’s data?
We’re testing that now but presuming there’s good news to come. Traditional DAS arrays measure changes in temperature and pressure to mark rock settling and vibrations. Electric geophones measure particle movements to mark these events. The problem with these two approaches is that you don’t know the exact location of the event. Our 3C fiber optic system adds 3 measurement components to boost sensitivity and pinpoint the location of each event. Knowing the exact location of settling or leakage in a well is important, both economically and from a safety perspective.
You mentioned that you are conducting a test. Can you tell us about that?
Yes, we recently completed a major test of our sensors with two partners. The goal of the project was to test the viability of our fully optical acoustic sensor array (MagiQ GeoLite Sensors) to learn the suitability for permanent monitoring of a large, sub-sea well.
Who were the partners?
I’m not at liberty to identify them by name, but both are global petroleum and gas companies that are leaders in the industry.
That’s great. What have you learned so far?
The data is still being compiled and analyzed, but the testing was extremely rigorous. We tested our optical sensor array versus traditional electronic geophones in a down hole environment that was approximately 400 meters deep. The testing was conducted in a research well in Texas. Our optical sensing prototype went down hole during the test and fed information to the data acquisition equipment on the surface. We obtained plenty of data, which was a critical goal of phase one.
Can’t traditional sensors accomplish this?
We’ve gone from lab testing to field testing, and we’ve learned that our 3C optical sensor array is extremely sensitive even at low frequencies. This means that it not only determines noise location, but can dampen and even eliminate noise and vibrations created by the machinery itself. This is something that traditional DAS systems can’t do which can throw measurements off. Again, it all comes down to data quality.
What does the future hold for MagiQ and the Geophysics team?
What we are trying to accomplish with our technology and approach is somewhat of a holy grail. Our long-term goal is to partner with data acquisition companies and oil equipment manufacturing firms to build our systems and provide these systems to energy exploration companies across the globe.
Those are ambitious goals. Best of luck in achieving them
Thank-you. What we are doing is extremely difficult, but it holds so much promise and opportunity for the energy industry.