The first development of the P-Cable system was a cooperative project achieved by the University of Tromsø, Volanic Basin Petroleum Research (VBPR), Oslo, National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, and Fugro Survey AS, Oslo. The development of this patented system (Planke and Berndt, 2003) has now entered its 8th year. After consecutive phases of system development, prototype upgrades and sea trials using an array of 2, 8 and 12 parallel streamers, the first 5-year development period was concluded in 2005. The last field trials using a 12-streamer system were conducted on sites with active fluid-leakage systems on the Norwegian-Barents-Svalbard margin, the Gulf of Cadiz and the Mediterranean (e.g. Mienert et al., 2005). The trials were finished successfully showing excellent system stability providing good data quality (Figure 1b and 2).

Figure 1b

Figure 1b. P-Cable 3D seismic data.

The second phase of the development period included the development of a digital-streamer system. The new system also includes fully integrated tow and cross cables for power and data transmission, improved doors to spread the larger cross cable and GPS pods on the outer doors. This digital system is partly owned by VBPR and partly by the University of Tromsø, and has been successfully used during three cruises by the University of Tromsø and VBPR (Mienert et al., 2007; Bünz et al., 2008a,b; Petersen et al., subm; Petersen et al., 2008). The data delivers unparalleled 3D seismic images of subsurface sediment architectures (Figure 1b & 2; Petersen et al., 2008).

Figure 2

Figure 2. Example of the P-Cable 3D seismic data showing a fluid-escape structure on the W-Svalbard Margin in unprecedented detail (Petersen et al., 2008).

The University of Tromsø has demonstrated the wide range of applications of high-resolution 3D seismic technology, visualization and interpretation (Bünz et al., 2005, Hustoft et al., 2007, Petersen et al., 2008, Planke et al., 2009). Accordingly, we wish to assemble a complete and mobile P-Cable high-resolution 3D seismic system for fully operational use of the technology for Norwegian academic institutions, cooperative international and industry projects.

Previously funded NFR projects (PETROMAKS 169514/S30 and 175969/S30) and EU projects provided the base for the development and testing of high-resolution 3D seismic technology, and we are now ready to purchase, build and integrate a fully operational system within a reasonable budget. This new infrastructure will provide Norwegian Universities and research institutions with a completely new and unique tool, the first one of its kind, to image the shallow to intermediate (<1500m) subsurface of marine environments in unprecedented detail. We propose to obtain a mobile and flexible high-resolution 3D seismic system that can be used and shared by all geomarine institutions and Universities of Norway for research activities concentrating in Polar and Subpolar regions and the deep-ocean frontier. A small and light system can be deployed easily by a small crew in a short time and used from the shelves to the deep ocean and in seasonally sea-ice free areas.

The seagoing engineers at the Departments of Geology at the Universities of Tromsø and Bergen have a solid background in handling seismic technology gear. These Departments and the University of Oslo have leading roles in studying seabed and sub-seabed structures and processes on the Norwegian but also on other European Margins. Ongoing and future research activities by these departments will allow to secure and to run the national infrastructure.

Furthermore, Norway has a leading role in geo-marine research and technology due to many decades of successful hydrocarbon exploration within national and international waters and an unmatched collaboration between industry and academia. Recent contracts by StatoilHydro and smaller hydrocarbon industry enterprises demonstrate ongoing cooperation.

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