Shell Todd Oil Services

World class innovation @ Kapuni

World Class Innovation @ Kapuni

Shell Todd Oil Services limited (STOS) recognised that novel approaches would be needed to minimise the impacts of the massive 3D seismic survey it has undertaken across the Kapuni natural gas field in South Taranaki.

The multi-million dollar Survey spans 450 square-kilometres and more than 1,400 properties. The 30,000 nodes and recording devices make the Project the largest ever by Shell International and the largest and most advanced of its type in New Zealand to date.

STOS says advanced technology improved the data quality from the Survey, while also improving the project’s safety and environmental performance.

For example, high tech and self-contained cable-free nodes were buried just beneath the ground minimising land disruption and meant there was no cable exposure to streams, roads, and farming operations.

A fleet of 12 specialised track-mounted drill units were imported for the Survey which were lighter, quicker and more mobile than conventional drill units.  Plus they caused fewer disturbances to the fertile pastures of South Taranaki.

STOS identified driving as one of the high-risk activities in the Survey and opted to deploy a full in-vehicle monitoring system. The system works through in-vehicle alerting in tandem with safety first behaviours, and helped deliver 940,000 kilometres driven throughout the project with no road accidents.

A key challenge for the Survey was keeping track of data and commitments made to landowners.

The survey covered 1,448 properties, the owners of which all had to be consulted with. To track the progress of those engagements and keep survey staff up to date, the project used the DataPoint system developed by local surveying consultancy BTW Company.

DataPoint enabled constant communication between all teams involved in the Survey, providing real-time reports of consenting progress and any potential issues, such as access restrictions.

Land liaison officers individually contacted each landowner to gain access permission by explaining the process and answering questions. This involved almost 3,000 face-to-face meetings, including with two iwi authorities and five hapū. As a result, about a third of the original survey design was adapted to reduce social impacts.

Survey data was also gathered and processed in new ways. High-resolution satellite imagery and topographic elevations were obtained in 2015 to reduce the risks involved with helicopter operations and saving the company hundreds of thousands of dollars.

To manage the many terabytes of data collected from the field (over half-a-billion seismic traces), significant computer capacity was imported into New Zealand and installed in a real-time seismic data processing centre at the project’s base in Hawera. Geophysicists worked in 24-hour shifts to ensure the data was accurate.

Another novel aspect of the survey was the Local Content policy that STOS adopted in order to deliver sustainable benefits to the community.

Targets achieved included a goal that 70 per cent of the discretionary spend would be in South Taranaki, and that 40 per cent of the staff would be employed from South Taranaki.

At peak 180 people were working on the project and during the first quarter of 2016 nearly 70 per cent of employees originated from Taranaki.

NZD$15.9 million was injected into the New Zealand economy during the Survey and of this, $6.9 million was spent in South Taranaki.

The Innovation in Energy award category is sponsored by Gentrack.