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Exploration in Alaska

The exploration phase has a number of stages and components, some of which are performed in conjunction. Although surveys, such as 3-D seismic, might indicate that oil and gas could be present, the only sure way to confirm is to drill an exploration well.

The exploration phase has a number of stages and components, some of which are performed in conjunction. Although surveys, such as 3-D seismic, might indicate that oil and gas could be present, the only sure way to confirm is to drill an exploration well. In addition, this process is used to evaluate the potential of the reservoir and help to determine if it is economically viable to move into the production phase.

Seismic & Shallow Hazard Surveys

Seismic survey, the best method of indirect exploration, enables explorers to view solid matter in the same way an ultrasound can see a baby inside a mother. The process works by sending sound waves into the seafloor and measuring how long it takes for the rocks underneath to reflect the waves back to the surface. That time period can indicate the varying characteristics of the rocks beneath.

3-D seismic uses similar technology but multiple lines of equipment placed in a grid to record the signals. Sophisticated computer software can then translate those signals into a picture revealing the thickness and densities of the sub-surface rocks.

Shallow hazard surveys are another tool used during the exploration process. These surveys help to identify potential hazards to vessels or seafloor conditions that may be unsafe for the placement of exploration drilling wells and rigs. For example, the surveys can show underwater peaks and valleys, or man-made dangers like shipwrecks.

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