Andrea Crook has worked for an oil company, a geophysical consulting company, both in Calgary, and is now the President of OptiSeis Solutions Ltd., a geophysical acquisition software and survey design company focused on developing innovative acquisition solutions for acquiring high resolution seismic data. She likes to share her seismic acquisition knowledge by way of courses that she conducts on the CSEG and SEG platforms. She is a Professional Geophysicist (P. Geoph.) registered with APEGA, and a member of many other professional societies. Besides her technical expertise, Andrea is an experienced piano teacher registered with the R.C.M. (Royal Conservatory of Music).
“Being an entrepreneur requires flexibility since you will wear many hats… your job description expands exponentially.”
Andrea, how did you get to pursue a career in geophysics?
I have always loved math and science, so I began my university career with a joint degree in Math and Physics. However, as I started thinking about a career to pursue, I realized I wanted to work in applied sciences. While researching possible jobs, I came across the term geophysics, which appeared to combine geology with physics. Growing up in Manitoba, I had never heard about geophysics, but was familiar with geology, so I met with the head of the geophysics department, Ian Ferguson, at the University of Manitoba. He described some of the research they were currently doing on isostatic rebound in Churchill, Manitoba. It sounded fascinating and I had always had an interest in rocks (I still have my rock collection from when I was 4 years old), so I transferred into the University of Manitoba’s Science program and studied hard rock geophysics. My intention was to work in mining, but while completing my degree, I had an opportunity to work as a summer student for PetroCanada in Calgary. The project was captivating, and I enjoyed my time in Calgary, so after graduation in 2002, I accepted a job offer with Shell Canada and moved to Calgary.
How did you decide to start OptiSeis Solutions Ltd. and what is your current role there?As a consultant, I was beginning to get requests for more detailed acquisition design analysis and realized that there was a need for an independent seismic design specialist in Calgary. This was also observed by two other acquisition design specialists, and we decided to combine our skills and start a company offering these services. Since then, OptiSeis has grown into an international seismic acquisition software and consulting company with an active research division specifically focus on reducing the environmental impact of land seismic surveys. When we first started the company, my role as the Chief Geophysicist was primarily technical, and I was responsible for designing and acquiring both Canadian and international seismic exploration programs. As the company grew, I moved into the role of President, and now I oversee a team of both software and geophysical employees and consultants. However, I am still actively involved in designing seismic programs, and I also teach seismic acquisition courses on a regular basis.
What would be your ideal recipe for a 3D seismic survey design, maximizing its value for your client? On what aspects would you not like to compromise, and what would be the ones where you could be more flexible?
I have heard it being said that the most expensive seismic survey in the world is the one that does not meet its objectives; so, for me, the most important thing is to ensure the right questions are asked at the beginning and then, the survey answers those questions to the best of its ability within the defined budget. Keeping expectations realistic is important. Of course, we all want perfect data, but that is often not cost effective or operationally feasible.
As discussed previously, there are many new seismic acquisition technologies that can be utilized to acquire higher quality data for the same or reduced cost. However, the best survey in the world may result in inadequate data quality if similar time and effort are not spent on the processing and interpretation.
I do not think it is possible to say we can be flexible on bin size but must not compromise regarding line interval or patch size. Each aspect of the survey must be evaluated with respect to the survey objectives and there is always some flexibility. So, I think the most important part of the survey design process is: to ask the right questions. For me, the ideal recipe is to consider all aspects of the design so that the questions being asked are answered. The recipe should include a consideration of the following components:
- Geometry: station intervals, line interval, patch size
- Equipment: recording system, geophones, sources
- Surface Conditions: terrain, exclusions, permits, infrastructure
- Field Conditions: weather, timing, crew size
- Implementation: field tests, source shooting method, overlap with existing surveys, multi-year acquisition
- Post-Acquisition: processing, interpretation, QI, archiving
It is possible to acquire a decent survey without investigating all of these, but for the most cost-effective and operationally efficient survey, all of these should be considered during parameter selection.