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Enabling Cost Effective High Quality Seismic Monitoring of Unconventional Reservoirs with Fiber Optics
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The overall objective of this project is to produce a cost-effective and reliable narrow diameter optical seismic sensor system for fracture diagnostics and reservoir monitoring. The narrow-diameter sensor components have already been prototyped and tested in the laboratory and will form the basis for the development of a 10-20 level array for this project. The project seeks to demonstrate full operation of the system in an environment where conventional sensors are difficult and expensive to deploy due to high temperatures; deep wells; and complicated drilling, completion, and stimulation programs. The system will be used to perform a suite of data acquisition activities in an unconventional oil and gas well, which will be analyzed to provide information on the reservoir and well operations including active surveys, passive seismic, and microseismic monitoring. This will demonstrate the ability of the sensor system to provide useful data with a zero maintenance, fully passive downhole design that will be widely applicable in unconventional reservoir.


MagiQ Technologies, Inc. - Somerville, MA 02143
Sigma Cubed, Inc. - Houston, TX 77041
MicroSeismic, Inc. - Houston, TX 77042
HighPeak Energy - Fort Worth, TX 76102


Unconventional oil and gas resources make up the majority of the United States’ energy reserves and production, yet despite decades of experience and billions invested in research and development, actual production can be too costly and inefficient to be economically competitive in an era of prolonged low prices. In oil and gas bearing shales in the Permian basin (among the largest accessible energy reserves in the U.S.), ultimate recovery factors can be very low and unpredictable (estimated at 20% or less with most production coming from a minority of wells and frac stages). This limits the return on investment and wastes time, money, water, and energy in the drilling and completion of relatively unproductive wells. The main challenges in unconventional plays are similar — they are extremely low permeability, inhomogeneous, and require intensive services for completion. Some plays are in faulted/deformed regions, while others are near water bearing intervals; in either case, the exact placement of wells and frac stages is critical, and it is difficult to verify exactly where fracturing occurs and whether the decisions result in optimal recovery. However, each unconventional shale play is different, which is why there is not one easy, effective route for completions and development. Widespread, comprehensive seismic imaging is important to improve recovery factors, efficiency, and safety during production.


The sensor system — with passive, zero maintenance downhole optical sensor strings — provides tools that reduce costs of seismic and microseismic data acquisition while allowing their use in well conditions that are not currently addressed by existing electronic tools, allowing more widespread adoption of proven techniques to plan operations, monitor reservoir conditions, and model subsurface behavior. By encouraging high quality monitoring and analysis before, during, and after resource production, the technology will greatly improve the return on investment in unconventional wells by allowing more efficient and complete extraction or resource, as well as reduce costs of unconventional production which are inflated by unproductive wells and ineffective well treatments. In addition, the technology will greatly improve the knowledge of induced seismic events, changes to rock formations, and migration of well fluids into undesired locations, all of which can pose a danger to the public and the environment.

Accomplishments (most recent listed first)

MagiQ Technologies successfully established the system requirements and finalized the technical design of the fiber optic sensor system. Testing and analysis of the components has revealed that sensor response is in the targeted range. Key elements of the sensor hardware that make up the fiber optic system prototype have been assembled and tested, confirming fit and performance of key aspects of the system design. Industry partner HighPeak Energy has committed to provide access to a field site for testing of the full-scale prototype system in 2022. The field tests will take place in a well characterized field site in the Midland Basin. 

Current Status

The project is currently completing the final steps of the system assembly and testing in preparation for the field testing. Once completed, the fiber optic seismic system will be tested in a relevant field environment. MagiQ Technologies has secured a field site for testing the technology in the Midland basin in the fall of 2022.

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Performer Contribution


Contact Information

NETL – Stephen Henry ( or 304-285-2083)
MagiQ Technologies, Inc. – Caleb Christensen ( or 617-660-8300)