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Our seismologists take a look below the dunes

Measuring the desert when it’s 50 degrees in the shade is not the most pleasant job in the world. Nevertheless, Bernhard Novotny’s team ventures out into the heat east of Abu Dhabi. Their objective is to explore where oil and gas can be found.

East of Abu Dhabi is desert. A camp of containers and trailers has been built between the dunes. Just before daybreak, at 4:30 am, Bernhard Novotny and his team start bustling about. They climb into jeeps, trucks, and bulldozers. They’re wearing protective clothing and sunglasses – during the day temperatures reach up to 50 degrees in the shade. They are surrounded by nothing but sand and desert. And the big question: What is hidden below these enormous dunes? A large-scale seismic campaign is expected to provide the answer and collect data on the geological subsurface that will be analyzed later.

The seismic campaign in Abu Dhabi is the largest one OMV has ever conducted as an operator. State of the art technology combined with the most extreme conditions made this project unique for me.
Bernhard Novotny, Lead Operations Geophysicist at OMV

The seismic campaign in the Rub al-Chali desert in the United Arab Emirates covers 1,800 square kilometers. From July 2014 to March 2015, 350 people from OMV and partner companies were busy recording data that will allow us to better determine whether and where oil and gas can be found here. But we’ll have to wait for that: A team of eight geologists and geophysicists is now spending a year analyzing the data. Their goal is to create a 3D model of the geological subsurface which can be used to determine the location of a well. “Only then will we know whether we’ll actually find something,” says Bernhard Novotny.

But see for yourself! How a seismic campaign works:

More on the seismic campaign? Watch the video to find out how the technology works and how it is used to search for raw material deposits.

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