There is no sure-fire method to eliminate risk in searching for oil. 21st century technology has yet to provide a perfect solution however, it is rapidly expanding the way in which companies identify oil and gas reserves. In light of the global surge in shale fracking or unconventional exploration these technological advancements are also addressing environment issues and the conservation of our natural resources while lowering costs.
3-D seismic technology is not a new process but rather a technology that may take some time before all fully embrace. Exxon was the first to use a 3D seismic survey in 1967. The high cost of 3D seismic and the reluctance of companies to adapt to a new technology may be hindering its broadest appeal. As more and more companies utilize 3D seismic, costs and processing interpretation time comes down.
As a result of 3D seismic interpretation, Petro River Oil (OTC: PTRC) announced it made a significant oil field discovery in Osage County, Oklahoma. They also commenced this week on a 2nd discovery well in a different field in Osage County, Oklahoma. Each of these fields were identified utilizing 3D seismic technology. The 2.5 million barrels of oil potential from these discoveries for this small cap company ($25 million market cap) will be significant and should create value for its shareholders from current levels. However, the bigger story we see from what Petro River is doing is – can 3D seismic be the path to unlocking exploration risks in conventional drilling? Petro River’s business model is to acquire acreage in historically prolific basins, partner with local operators to minimize costs, and shoot 3D seismic to identify pools of overlooked oil. So far they have near term domestic projects in Oklahoma and California. Oklahoma’s success seems to validate Petro River’s business model and a path to de-risk conventional drilling utilizing technology. We will continue to follow and monitor their progress and the unlocking of exploration risk.