Houston co. invents wireless device to map underground oil and gas

Oil and gas explorers have for years used cable-connected seismic devices that provide a picture of what lies underground, but Mike Lambert, CEO of Sugar Land-based Wireless Seismic, said the wireless devices that his company has created could revolutionize the way companies look beneath the Earth’s surface.

Petroleum geologists use seismic imaging to help understand the locations and sizes of underground oil and gas formations. The process involves shooting sound waves underground – often generating the sound with explosives or vibrating metal plates – and then measuring how those sound waves move as they echo back to the surface. Done enough times, it can a provide a map of the path to hydrocarbons.

Historically, seismic work involves laying an array of sensors on the ground, connected by cables. Leaders of Wireless Seismic say they’ve developed a method that allows seismic sensors to transmit information back to a trailer for analysis in real time, vastly simplifying the process of data collection and speeding it up as well.

“This is the best of both worlds,” Lambert said.

The technology can reduce the time it takes to collect seismic data from days or weeks to just seconds, Lambert said. And that’s generated investment from some of the bigger players in the energy industry.

Among interests that collectively have pumped millions of dollars into the business are Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy; the venture capital arm of France’s Total – one of the world’s largest oil companies; and Energy Ventures, a Norwegian private equity firm.

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