Burying receivers for improved time-lapse seismic repeatability: CO2CRC Otway field experiment

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Abstract

4D seismic is widely used to remotely monitor fluid movement in subsurface reservoirs. This technique is especially effective offshore where high survey repeatability can be achieved. It comes as no surprise that the first 4D seismic that successfully monitored the CO2 sequestration process was recorded offshore in the Sleipner field, North Sea. In the case of land projects, poor repeatability of the land seismic data due to low S/N ratio often obscures the time-lapse seismic signal. Hence for a successful on shore monitoring program improving seismic repeatability is essential.

Stage 2 of the CO2CRC Otway project involves an injection of a small amount (around 15,000 tonnes) of CO2/CH4 gas mixture into a saline aquifer at a depth of approximately 1.5 km. Previous studies at this site showed that seismic repeatability is relatively low due to variations in weather conditions, near surface geology and farming activities. In order to improve time-lapse seismic monitoring capabilities, a permanent receiver array can be utilised to improve signal to noise ratio and hence repeatability.

A small-scale trial of such an array was conducted at the Otway site in June 2012. A set of 25 geophones was installed in 3 m deep boreholes in parallel to the same number of surface geophones. In addition, four geophones were placed into boreholes of 1–12 m depth. In order to assess the gain in the signal-to-noise ratio and repeatability, both active and passive seismic surveys were carried out. The surveys were conducted in relatively poor weather conditions, with rain, strong wind and thunderstorms. With such an amplified background noise level, we found that the noise level for buried geophones is on average 20 dB lower compared to the surface geophones.

The levels of repeatability for borehole geophones estimated around direct wave, reflected wave and ground roll are twice as high as for the surface geophones. Both borehole and surface geophones produce the best repeatability in the 30–90 Hz frequency range. The influence of burying depth on S/N ratio and repeatability shows that significant improvement in repeatability can be reached at a depth of 3 m. The level of repeatability remains relatively constant between 3 and 12 m depths.

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