Passive Seismic Monitoring Can Help Make Offshore Drilling Safer

The National Commission looking into the Deepwater Horizon spill has just issued its  report, and it clearly points to new regulations and safety measures, as yet unspecified, to prevent a repeat.

Here is one suggestion the industry and the regulators should consider: use passive, microseismic technology to provide continuous, real-time monitoring of offshore wells and facilities.

Microseismic array systems can be permanently installed on the seabed to capture data during both the well construction phase and during production – data on seismic events, pressure and stress changes and changes in the reservoir as the hydrocarbons are removed.

With passive, microseismic, operators can detect upsets at or near the borehole, or in pipelines and facilities, in real time. And in time to act before they become catastrophic. This would dramatically increase the long-term safety and reliability of their operations as well as help them optimize production.

Microseismic monitoring is a proven technology that is available today to provide an early warning system. Operators and regulators should consider it as part of the new regulatory structure that is taking shape.