QinetiQ, Gravitec and Shell Technology Ventures to develop novel gravity sensor for oil and gas wells

06 Jun 2007

Scorpius, a novel remote sensor that builds a 3-D picture of hydrocarbon reservoirs by measuring changes in gravity over time and distance is being developed by QinetiQ, Gravitec and Shell Technology Ventures.

QinetiQ has been awarded a £1.6m development contract by Gravitec Downhole Instruments Ltd (GDI Ltd), a joint venture formed by Gravitec Instruments Ltd and Shell Technology Ventures Fund 1 BV (managed by Kenda Capital BV) to fast-track the development of Gravitec's novel gravity gradiometer for use in borehole applications.

QinetiQ, an international defence and security technology company with significant experience in managing complex commercial engineering programmes, will lead the development, testing and packaging of a fully integrated sensor for use in the downhole petroleum environment.

Simon Fraser, Chief Executive of Gravitec Instruments said: “Gravitec is delighted to be working with STV and QinetiQ in taking this exciting technology forward. The strength and breadth of QinetiQ’s technical expertise and systems integration capability will be very important to the successful deployment of our downhole tool.”

The borehole environment is extremely challenging for remote gravity sensing as a result of the high temperatures and pressures involved and because changes in magnitude of the measured signal are extremely small requiring precise measurements. Gravitec's sensor is the only gravity gradiometer that has the potential to monitor hydrocarbon reservoirs in wells because it is both small enough and sensitive enough to produce in-hole data of commercial use. Scorpius is expected to produce density information that can help define the location of oil reserves and monitor depletion of producing reservoirs when it is expected to be ready for deployment in 2008.

The success of the gravity gradiometer in the oil and gas environment will provide the impetus for further development of the sensor for applications in mineral boreholes, static surface monitoring of oil reservoirs, airborne surveying, defence, and space deployment.

Jon Salkeld, Managing Director of QinetiQ's Optronics Division said: “The project presents an exciting opportunity for us to apply our broad range of disciplines and modelling capability to help a commercial partner make a difference in solving important problems for the oil and gas industries.”

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QinetiQ, Gravitec and Shell Technology Ventures to develop novel gravity sensor for oil and gas wells