NCS: What will the seismic season of 2020 bring?

Ten seismic surveys are already approved by the NPD to be acquired on the Norwegian Continental Shelf in 2020, and 14 surveys are pending approval.

The approved surveys include seabed (OBS/OBN) and EM acquisitions, but mainly site surveys to be undertaken by Equinor.  The surveys pending approval also include mainly site surveys (2D/4D), two of them by ConocoPhillips, and multi-client (MC) surveys to be undertaken by MCG, PGS, and TGS in cooperation with Axxis.

Table showing the 2020 surveys pending approval and surveys already approved by the authorities. Source: NPD Factpages

Current uncertainties
Due to the situation the industry is facing with the Covid-19 virus, there are uncertainties around the 2020 acquisition and start of the planned surveys 

Several ports are now closed, making it difficult for the seismic vessels to go to port for mobilization of the crew, equipment, medical requirements, foodclient and fishery representatives etc needed onboard during acquisition.

Tor Åkermoen. Photo: Multiclient Geophysical.

MCG is preparing for a new season of their Regional Deep Imaging MC2D project (RDI20), and Tor Åkermoen, Chief Operating Officer, is concerned: Even in a normal situationthere are many challenges related to a regional survey including four countries (Norway, Faroe Islands, UK and Denmark).

Now, the countries also have different restrictions implemented due to the Covid-19 disease. We do not yet know how each country will handle crew changes for the different nationalities on board, or if there will be quarantines or even isolations for foreign workers travelling through a country. We also do not know if any fish reps will be willing to get onboard and risk a 2 weeks quarantine etc. Åkermoen continues. 

But more importantly, Åkermoen adds, how can the crew onboard feel safe with regards to the Coronavirus? There are mitigations to be implemented, but mitigations such as the hiring of separate parts of hotels for quarantines or chartering flights add extra cost to the survey and with today’s exploration budget slashes, no oil companies are willing, nor able, to cover this extra cost. 

The process of coordinating the permitting, environmental impact studies, communication with Fisheries in four countries and more than 200 permits to work applications from the Production Licenses within the survey area now seems like trivial job,”  Åkermoen concludes.

How many of the planned surveys that will actually be acquired in today’s situation, remains to be seen.