Battle of the seismic titans offshore Myanmar

It's what just a few years ago was seen as possibly one of the most unlikely places for a battle over who could tow the largest seismic spread.

However, just that is underway offshore Myanmar, or Burma, which has come under exploration firms' spotlights after recently emerging for decades of sanction driven isolation. 

A new license round paved the way for new seismic acquisition, with Norwegian industry players Petroleum Geo-Services (PGS) and Polarcus both contracted by operators to acquire new 3D seismic data off Myanmar's prospective shores. 

Interest will have also increased thanks to a gas discovery announced by Australia's Woodside Energy, announced earlier this year.

Right now, Polarcus is acquiring an ultra-wide 3D marine seismic project using its Polarcus Amani vessel (pictured).

It is towing an in-sea configuration that measures 1.8km wide across the front ends, says Polarcus. With each of its 10 streamers separated by 200m, the total area covered by the spread is 17.6sq km, which the firm claims is the largest in-sea configuration ever towed by a single seismic vessel, as well as the largest man-made moving object on earth.

Polarcus' claim follows PGS' claim just last month to the largest seismic spread, also offshore Myanmar. It says, using its Ramform Titan vessel (pictured below - able to tow 24 streamers), working in the Bay of Bengal, its 18 streamer configuration was more than a mile across, making it at the time the widest deployment on record. Each of the 18 streamers is 7.05m-long, with 100m separation, making a total spread of 1.7km and representing 127km of streamers. The total surface area covered by the streamer spread was said to be 15.6sq km. PGS was working on contract to BG Group and Woodside Energy covering the Rakhine basin, which includes the Bay of Bengal off the western coast of Myanmar.

At the time, PGS said the project has notched up the highest ever daily production for a single seismic vessel so far achieved, at more than 160sq km. 

Meanwhile, Polarcus, which appears to have broken PGS record, says it has now set a new acquisition performance record. It says the acquisition plan in Myanmar will deliver up to 190sq km/d.

Polarcus COO, Duncan Eley boasted this morning: "Such industry leading operational efficiency in Myanmar by one of our right-sized 3D seismic vessels exemplifies Polarcus' strategy to deliver fit-for-purpose geophysical solutions to our clients. We work closely with all clients to ensure both their efficiency and data quality objectives are met and exceeded."

The ratcheting up of claims to the widest spreads and highest acquisition rates comes as the seismic industry continues to suffer from the global low oil price environment. 

Last month (December 2015), Norway-based geoscience firm Dolphin filed for bankruptcy days after warning it had struggled to restructure its debt and capital structure.

Both PGS and fellow geoscience firm TGS have warned about the market continuing to suffer through 2016 and a tranche of seismic vessels has been cold stacked, with new deliveries postponed.  

Read more

PGS claims seismic spread record 

Turmoil continues in seismic markets 

Myanmar pays off for Woodside

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