Time lapse seismic ("4D") shows an impressive growth curve. Recent work on multi-component data ("4C") also shows good potential for the future. These technologies offer ways in which we could improve our reservoir management. For time lapse work, new techniques should allow us to improve the threshold for detection of the seismic effects of pressure and fluid changes. Furthermore, these techniques will allow re-shoots at minimal cost, on a schedule driven by the needs of the reservoir engineers. For multi-component technology, the benefits of imaging with shear waves through gas-filled sediments are already well demonstrated. However, gas clouds are only one of several problems which can be impacted -- there are many potential benefits to be had from this technology, especially in the marine environment.
It seems very likely that these two major new technologies will merge. A strong enabler would be the availability of affordable emplaceable seismic detector systems. For example, if a system could be installed for not much more than a conventional towed-cable seismic survey, it would be irresistible and would open up an entirely new market. We will then have the beginnings of what we might call an "electric oilfield" or "e-field". Our vision is that by combining the imaging techniques above with continuously available engineering data such as pressure, temperature, and saturation coming from emplaced downhole instrumentation, we will achieve a step improvement in reservoir surveillance and thus allow our engineers to improve the management of their reservoirs. The challenges will be to speed the implementation of these systems and to integrate the data successfully, because historically new technologies take years to achieve acceptance. "Cost" and "value" have to be understood and reconciled, and this takes time.