Norsk Hydro Invests in New Geophysical Technology

Norsk Hydro has invested in a Swiss company developing new geophysical technologies to determine whether promising geological formations contain oil or gas.

Zurich-based Spectraseis Technologie AG provides surveys and data processing services using ultra-sensitive spectrometers and proprietary software to generate maps showing probable distributions of hydrocarbon deposits in a survey area, based on the analysis of passive, low frequency seismic data.

Spectraseis’ technology, dubbed "Hydrocarbon Microtremor Analysis" or HyMAS, works in almost the same way as when a doctor uses a stethoscope to monitor a patient's heart. By positioning sensors in the ground, signals can be received form the earth's interior. The data gathered is then sent to Spectraseis for analysis.

By listening to the signals emitted, a chart can be drawn up that reveals the probability of discovering hydrocarbons in an area. In this way it is possible to determine - without drilling - whether promising geological formations contain oil or gas.

"The method increases the probability of discovery and helps improve exploration efficiency by reducing costs and the time it takes to find oil and gas," says Arne Frĝiland, Technology Ventures' investment manager.

"An important issue for new geophysical methods seeking commercialization is to conclusively show that the benefits of new information exceed the costs."

"New upstream technologies are a strategic focus for Technology Ventures," adds Frĝiland. "We are working closely with Hydro's research team in Bergen. The company's seismic expert group is working jointly with Ventures and Spectraseis in order to identify applications for the technology internationally, both offshore and onshore."

Technology Ventures, which is wholly-owned by Hydro, has a fund capital of NOK 350 million.

The company has acquired a NOK 20 million stake in Spectraseis Technologie AG and is the sole industrial owner.


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