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Earth imaging


The CSTJF's R&D teams have embarked on an integrated geophysics and logistics project: METIS® (Multiphysics Exploration Technology Integrated System).

Obtaining seismic images of these areas is particularly difficult and subsurface mapping produces a great deal of uncertainties. Moreover, these areas are often difficult to access, making conventional acquisition techniques too costly and risky from an HSE point of view. For all these reasons, we needed to rethink practices from a more comprehensive viewpoint. So, in the summer of 2014, Total launched the METIS® (Multiphysics Exploration Technology Integrated System) project. The aim was to develop an integrated geophysical and logistical system over the next 10 years for acquiring, processing and obtaining high-quality structural and quantitative information in real time.
Ultimately, this innovative approach should increase tenfold the VOI (value of information) of data acquired in complex surface environments. It will help to optimize the development of our fields, by obtaining new exploration permits or by revisiting acreage abandoned in the past due to lack of information.


METIS Field pilot 2020 phase 1The quality of geophysical data, but also time and costs... there are countless obstacles when performing acquisitions in complex areas. Hence the comprehensive solution provided by METIS®, which combines an innovative use of DART (Downfall Air Receiver Technology) and the intensive use of airborne means such as airships and drones. This new acquisition method consists in covering the ground (carpet recording) of the exploration area with DARTs, i.e. wireless arrow-shaped geophysical sensors. The UAV fleet safely launches up to 400 receivers per km². All the seismic traces recorded are then transmitted in real time to the control center in the field. The high density contributes to the final, high-definition quality.

METIS® auto-adapts to the complexity of all the geological information in the field, and optimizes the logistical aspects, which are just as important for guaranteeing the efficiency and safety of the operation. A full simulation of the acquisition / processing / imaging process is run, so that the density of the sensors and the type of multiphysical measurements are fit for purpose. If necessary, corrections can be made directly in the field to suit the reality or operations.


In addition to conventional seismic acquisition, several techniques for imaging at different scales are included: use of satellite or airborne data (optical, radar, LiDAR, hyperspectral), electromagnetic and gravimetric techniques (for the surface and near surface) and even magneto-telluric techniques (for deep structures). METIS® is developed in partnership with two American companies: SAExploration (integrated contractor) and Wireless Seismic (equipment manufacturer).

The interpreter is at the heart of the acquisition process. She or he can locally and directly assess the quality of the data and the illumination of the geological structure, and take action in light of the results to optimize the acquisition scheme in real time. The time-frame between the start of acquisition and the finalization of the geoscience interpretation is considerably shortened, to the advantage of prospect appraisal and final decision making. The aim of METIS® is to allow more time for the interpretation and maturation phases of our prospective objects: "Tempus omnia revelat".


Flying drone METIS® will also help to meet environmental requirements, by reducing the impact of seismic acquisition surveys in complex areas, foremost among which are fold belts and thrusts in foothills domains.

This is one of the challenges of the mini-pilot that will be set up this year in Papua New Guinea, where land acquisition is conditioned by the extremely dense vegetation of the primary rainforest, making access virtually impossible. Traditionally, openings for seismic land acquisitions also require bridging, a technique which not only has a substantial environmental impact, but the resulting subsurface seismic images are often inaccurate. With METIS®, we foresee reducing openings by about 1:15 compared to conventional methods. A first industrial pilot covering 100 km² on PRL15 (Elk Antelope) is due to take place in 2021.


Air logistics, an essential part of the METIS® system.

For seismic surveys, heavy equipment has to be transported to the areas to be explored. To develop a more environmentally-friendly approach, Total researchers teamed up with French start-up Flying Whales to invent the HA2t (Hybrid Airship 2-ton), a multifunctional airship that lends a helping hand to the helicopters for all logisitcal aspects. Also used for non-seismic acquisition, this new type of system will also serve as a communication relay between the exploration zone and the base.