Geomagnetic referencing is becoming an increasingly attractive alternativeto north-seeking gyroscopic surveys to achieve the precise wellbore positioningessential for success in today's complex drilling programs. However, thegreater magnitude of variations in the geomagnetic environment at higherlatitudes makes the application of geomagnetic referencing in those areas morechallenging.

Precise, real-time data on those variations from relatively nearby magneticobservatories can be crucial to achieving the required accuracy, butconstructing and operating an observatory in these often harsh environmentsposes a number of significant challenges. Operational since March 2010, theDeadhorse Magnetic Observatory (DED), located in Deadhorse, Alaska, was createdthrough collaboration between the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and aleading oilfield services supply company. DED was designed to produce real-timegeomagnetic data at the required level of accuracy, and to do so reliably underthe extreme temperatures and harsh weather conditions often experienced in thearea.

The observatory will serve a number of key scientific communities as well asthe oilfield drilling industry, and has already played a vital role in thesuccess of several commercial ventures in the area, providing essential, accurate data while offering significant cost and time savings, compared withtraditional surveying techniques.

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