The most important information about layers of underground rock is produced by seismic surveys. These surveys of potential deposits accumulate huge amounts of data, which can only be analyzed with the help of very powerful computers. When they have completed the analysis, the computers produce maps that present a detailed picture of the structure below the ground. The CCB (common contour binning) technique developed by Wintershall significantly improves the analysis of seismic data as CCB filters out interference from the signals and boosts any indicators pinpointing oil and gas deposits. Wintershall uses the new technique to improve the exploration results and reduce the risk of expensive exploration wells.
Two 3D visualization centers in Kassel and Rijkswijk near The Hague are also important tools for Wintershall’s experts. Equipped with 3D glasses and wireless data input devices, they can move freely below the earth’s surface due to their powerful computers. They assist in allowing geologists, geophysicists, petrophysicists, and engineers to identify possible oil and gas deposits and plan their development.
Data information via the drill core
Using all the latest technology on the ground and in the air can provide guidance, but only an “exploration well” will ultimately confirm whether there is oil or gas underground. An “exploration well” is the term experts use to refer to wells drilled during the search for new deposits. Geologists obtain important insights from the rock chippings flushed to the surface with the drilling mud as well as from the drill cores recovered from underground. The cores may come from seal rock (such as rock salt), oil source rock (such as shale), or the sought after oil bearing rock (such as sandstone or limestone).
To examine drill cores under the microscope, geologists need to cut them into wafer-thin slices. These thin sections are between 0.02 to 0.03 millimeters thick and reveal the mineral composition of the rock as well as its porosity and permeability. Additional data is produced by appraisal wells from which conclusions about the geometry of the reservoir and the size of the oil and gas-bearing rock layers can be analyzed. Experts combine the analysis and use it to ultimately calculate the size of recoverable reserves.