RIL's Growth in North Sea Depends On Strength in Adversity

With 20 or so North Sea projects running concurrently in 2008, Reservoir Imaging Ltd (RIL) is no stranger to the cold, harsh epeiric sea of the north. Yet RIL Managing Director Keith Watt is quick to tout that the latest contracts awarded have increased the company's notoriety in the region due to the enormity of the clients to be serviced.

"[The contracts] are of similar size," Watt told Rigzone, "but being Shell/BP, they are significant clients."

RIL, a 4D seismic software services consultancy based in Edinburgh, will advise Shell U.K. and BP on the implementation of seismic surveys for the entire life of the project. The operations will be carried out both offshore and onshore.

When asked about the monetary value of the awarded contracts, Watt said that "unfortunately … the numbers didn't make it through the approval process."

Whatever the numbers, RIL appears to be in top-shape for 2008. "We are delighted that major oil companies are recognizing the benefits of our GIS-based technologies in the successful realization of their 4D seismic reservoir monitoring projects," said Watt. "[These technologies] are playing an increasingly significant role in maximization of reserves production particularly in mature provinces such as the North Sea."

The GIS database approach to 4D seismic projects has facilitated a boom for RIL over the last three years as the company has enjoyed a relatively steep increase in its clientele base.

RIL claims that its objective has been to develop a method of isolating all the contributing elements to a 4D seismic survey so that they can be accurately measured for comparison purposes with previous and future surveys over the same reservoir. Project information on crucial variables is logged for future reference so that any subsequent survey can repeat the same parameters. By building a global GIS database, RIL provides oil companies with a key resource to ensure the repeatability of their 4D seismic surveys carried out over time. Shell and BP's contract awards are recognition of that innovation in technology.

In fact, Watt said that circumventing harsh environmental challenges includes implementing cost-prohibitive methods that result in optimal repeatability, which are true indicators of success for RIL's North Sea services.

"The primary challenges are usually designing geometry and acquisition plans that optimize the tradeoff between cost and repeatability," he said, "and then ensuring that the plan is carried out efficiently and correctly in the field."

In 2008, RIL will focus on two producing central North Sea fields as part of Shell's reservoir management strategy. RIL will assist in the planning and perform infield quality control, as well as implement its proprietary field-based GIS system.