Be­com­ing clearer

The ‘first look’ re­sults from Le­banon’s air­borne on­shore sur­vey are promis­ing

Executive Magazine - - Economics & Policy -

The search for po­ten­tial on­shore hy­dro­car­bon reser­voirs in Le­banon is mov­ing along more quickly than an­tic­i­pated. Fully an­a­lyzed and in­ter­preted data from an air­borne sur­vey of 6,000 square kilo­me­ters will be ready by the end of the sec­ond quar­ter, three months ahead of sched­ule, ac­cord­ing to NEOS GeoSo­lu­tions, the US based com­pany con­duct­ing the sur­vey. NEOS is look­ing mostly at on­shore Le­banon in the north, but the sur­vey also in­cludes both on and off­shore acreage along the coast — known as the ‘tran­si­tion zone.’ While the full data set will not be made public — in fact, it is for sale — early in­di­ca­tors sug­gest Le­banon’s on­shore has po­ten­tial.

In March, Le­banon’s Lam­pion Oil & Gas Ser­vices com­pleted a ground mag­ne­totel­luric sur­vey to com­ple­ment the air­borne sur­vey be­ing con­ducted by NEOS GeoSo­lu­tions. The lo­cal firm was sub­con­tracted by US based Zonge In­ter­na­tional, which it­self was sub­con­tracted by NEOS, Lam­pion’s Rachad Ghanem tells Ex­ec­u­tive. He ex­plains that Lam­pion is col­lect­ing ex­tra data to “cal­i­brate” the data NEOS al­ready col­lected from the air. Ac­cord­ing to an oil­field glos­sary writ­ten by the oil and gas ser­vices com­pany Sch­lum­berger, a mag­ne­totel­luric sur­vey is a type of elec­tro­mag­netic (EM) sur­vey that mea­sures “nat­u­rally oc­cur­ring elec­tric and mag­netic fields at the earth’s sur­face.” Data gleaned from such a sur­vey is used to “map subsurface re­sis­tiv­ity vari­a­tions,” re­ports the web­site of Elec­tro­mag­netic GeoSer­vices (EMGS), a com­pany that does th­ese sur­veys. Re­sis­tiv­ity is a mea­sure­ment of “how strongly a ma­te­rial op­poses the flow of an elec­tric cur­rent,” ac­cord­ing to EMGS web­site. A re­port from Sch­lum­berger fur­ther ex­plains “some flu­ids (e.g. gas and oil) have very high re­sis­tiv­i­ties while for­ma­tion wa­ter and shales have low re­sis­tiv­i­ties. Th­ese vari­a­tions can help to dis­crim­i­nate be­tween flu­ids.” A mag­ne­totel­luric sur­vey also gives a pic­ture of the subsurface far deeper down than 2D or 3D seis­mic sur­vey­ing, ac­cord­ing to Sch­lum­berger’s glos­sary. While NEOS did take mag­ne­totel­luric mea­sure­ments from the air, Lee Harper, the com­pany’s direc­tor of op­er­a­tions, ex­plains in an email ex­change that the ground sur­vey “al­lows us to cal­i­brate our air­borne EM data, as well as en­hance our over­all data set. Ground [mag­ne­totel­luric] sur­veys are able to cap­ture lower fre­quen­cies than air­borne sys­tems, which al­lows us to look deeper into the ground.”

THE REAL STORY

Con­trary to a press re­port from Jan­uary say­ing that NEOS would also con­duct an on­shore 2D seis­mic sur­vey, the com­pany is ac­tu­ally only in­cor­po­rat­ing 2D data shot by an­other com­pany in 2013. “NEOS does not have plans to con­duct any on­shore seis­mic ac­qui­si­tion. Our Le­banon project will in­clude the in­te­gra­tion of some of the ex­ist­ing seis­mic [data], prin­ci­pally in the tran­si­tion zone part of the sur­vey area, into our in­ter­pre­ta­tion and anal­y­sis,” Amanda Jane, NEOS’ project manager for the Le­banon sur­vey, told Ex­ec­u­tive in an email ex­change back in Jan­uary. Jane said the Le­banese Petroleum Ad­min­is­tra­tion was ex­pected to hand over the 2D data for in­cor­po­ra­tion by the end of Jan­uary.

ALL EYES ON Q2

The air­borne sur­vey fin­ished in De­cem­ber 2014, ac­cord­ing to a com­pany press re­lease, and so called ‘first look’ data be­came avail­able to the sur­vey’s un­der­writ­ers in Fe­bru­ary 2015. NEOS will not re­veal who is un­der­writ­ing the project, in line with stan­dard in­dus­try prac­tice, but the com­pany’s lo­cal part­ner, Pet­roServ, told Ex­ec­u­tive in Oc­to­ber that it is un­der­writ­ing the sur­vey to the tune of $7.5 mil­lion. In a nar­rated slideshow de­scrib­ing the sur­vey, NEOS re­ports that the project is mov­ing ahead of sched­ule — ‘first look’ data was ini­tially ex­pected to be de­liv­ered by end of March. The slideshow says NEOS is “presently an­tic­i­pat­ing hav­ing the full in­ter­pre­ta­tion ready for de­liv­ery on an ac­cel­er­ated ba­sis at some point late in the sec­ond quar­ter,” as op­posed to by the end of Septem­ber as orig­i­nally planned. Once the data is fully an­a­lyzed, it will be avail­able for pur­chase.

In a slideshow on its web­site de­scrib­ing the ‘first look’ data, NEOS in­cludes some tan­ta­liz­ing in­for­ma­tion about clay and iron ox­ide de­posits on the west­ern mar­gins of the Bekaa Val­ley. While the com­pany has a com­mer­cial in­ter­est in talk­ing up the re­sults to sell more li­censes to ac­cess them, mis­lead­ing po­ten­tial clients with em­bel­lish­ments would dam­age the com­pany’s cred­i­bil­ity, mean­ing what they say about sur­vey re­sults thus far should be taken with a grain of salt, but not en­tirely dis­missed as mar­ket­ing mumbo jumbo. The de­posits, the slideshow ex­plains, are of­ten a sign that oil or gas could lie be­low. “If you had hy­dro­car­bon bear­ing in­ter­vals in the subsurface un­der Bekaa, th­ese are the types of [in­di­rect hy­dro­car­bon in­di­ca­tors] one would ex­pect to see and they are in the place where one would ex­pect to see them.”

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