The mission of the Delphi Consortium is to develop breakthroughs in the geo- imaging technology for the geo-energy industry. Today, the Delphi research program is sponsored by more than 30 international companies, including all major NOC’s, IOC’s and Service Companies.
Geo-imaging is one of the most critical technical capabilities of the upstream oil & gas business. Advances in geo-imaging will be decisive in finding and producing new hydrocarbon accumulations in an economical way. This is particular true for the potential reserves in unconventional fields. In addition, geo-imaging is an essential tool in monitoring sequestration processes.
Looking at the ongoing increase of the world’s population, together with the continuous growth of the global economy, the need for energy will show a continuous rise (see Figure 1).It is expected that in 2040 the world will use 50% more energy than in 2010. An issue of great concern is that the expected contribution of nonfossil fuels may still not exceed 20%. This means that the upstream oil and gas industry will face an enormous challenge to increase capacity and replace reserves. Here, priorities are improved technology portfolios and better cross-disciplinary skills in the professional workforce. Through the years, seismic imaging has become a critical technology in the upstream business (exploration and production), allowing detailed visualization of the reservoir properties of new prospects and producing fields at large (water) depths. To meet the challenge of capacity and reserves, the oil industry need to improve its seismic acquisition, imaging and characterization capability far beyond current limits. Robotization will revolutionize the way of working, in the field and in the office.
The mission of the DELPHI consortium is to give a significant technological contribution to the enormous challenge of mankind to keep energy available and affordable in the emerging energy transition.
Figure 1: Oil production in the past and projected into the future; shale oil & gas will be the big game changer.
A unique property of DELPHI is that scientific results are formulated at different levels of abstraction. This has the advantage that at the DELPHI meetings communication between researchers and sponsors occurs at a conceptual level, containing the essentials only. At lower levels, increasingly more theoretical detail is visible. The lowest level represents the DELPHI software, containing all required detail needed for application at the sponsor’s site.
Encouraged by the success of John Claerbout's consortium at Stanford in the seventies, professor Berkhout decided in the early eighties to set up a seismic consortium at the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft). Particularly with the help of one of his students, Paul van Riel (co-founder of Jason Geosystems), he started in 1982 the so-called PRINCEPS-consortium. The objective was estimation of acoustic impedance from seismic data by constrained trace inversion. PRINCEPS started with 5 companies.
From the research in the PRINCEPS-consortium it became clear that the extraction of in-situ rock information beyond acoustic impedance would require analysis of pre-stack seismic data, preferably after removal of the down- and upward propagation effects. Therefore, it was decided to set up a second consortium in Delft that was aiming at distortion-free, angle-dependent input for PRINCEPS. Particularly with the help of Kees Wapenaar (who had just successfully completed his Ph.D. thesis), professor Berkhout founded in 1987 the so-called TRITON-consortium. The objective was target-oriented pre-stack migration, using data-driven multiple removal and true-amplitude redatuming as preprocessing steps. TRITON started with 13 companies.
From the inversion research in PRINCEPS and the migration research in TRITON it became readily clear that both consortia would significantly benefit from a closer interaction. In 1989 it was decided to merge PRINCEPS and TRITON into one consortium: Delphi. The objective of Delphi was an integrated approach to multiple removal, velocty-independent migration and reservoir characterization. Delphi started with 21 companies.
From the integrated research in Delphi it emerged that the success of seismic imaging is largely determined by the way data acquisition is carried out. This particularly applies to the geometrical distribution of the sources and the detectors. Therefore, it was decided to start a third initiative aiming for an acquisition consortium that would investigate the influence of source and detector geometries on the quality of imaging and characterization results. Particularly with the help of Dr. Leo Ongkiehong (a former colleague of professor Berkhout in Shell), the so-called DOLPHIN-consortium was founded in 1995. The objective was to introduce a new approach to the analysis of acquisition geometries by making use of the focal beam concept. An important tool in DOLPHIN was, and still is, the downward- scaled acquisition system that has been built with the group's knowledge on medical imaging instrumentation. DOLPHIN started with 6 companies.
After a few years, DOLPHIN was fully integrated into the Delphi program.