Published in Oil & Gas Executive Report, Volume 2, Number 2, 1999, pages 32-35.

Early December 1998, Veritas DGC Inc. unveiled its new, state-of-the-art Data Visualization Center in Houston. The center is designed to help Veritas' marine-data-library clients quickly evaluate massive amounts of 3D-seismic data in a collaborative environment, greatly decreasing the overall cost of processing and interpreting seismic images in critical deepwater Gulf of Mexico blocks.

Designed to be a true working environment for teams of geoscientists, the center allows multiple groups to work simultaneously in the main visualization theater and four satellite workrooms to solve complex interpretation problems through sophisticated manipulation of 3D volumes. The result is improved interpretation, with higher confidence, in a shorter time frame.

Deepwater Subsalt Plays Are the Driver

The driver behind the investment Veritas has made in the Data Visualization Center is the subsalt deepwater Gulf of Mexico plays that pose special processing and interpretation problems for geoscientists. The acoustic properties of salt tend to distort the seismic images of geologic structures that lie below or adjacent to the domes and sheets of salt found in the deep waters of the gulf. To derive the best possible images, a technique known as prestack depth migration should be applied to the data. However, this technique is extremely time-consuming and computing-intensive and, therefore, quite expensive. As recently as 3 years ago, an internal study suggested that, with the then current computing resources available, applying prestack depth migration to an average-sized 3D survey could take several years to compute.

Increases in processor speeds and improvements in supercomputing architecture have cut that time to months. Still, the cost in computing time alone makes application of this technique to proprietary data daunting for individual clients, not to mention the preparation and interpretation that also are required. These factors are complicated further by the fact that very few individuals have combined experience in prestack depth migration and subsalt interpretation.

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