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PROJECT TOPIC- PHYSICS AS THE BEDROCK OF PETROLEUM EXPLORATION AND NIGERIA’S NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

PROJECT TOPIC- PHYSICS AS THE BEDROCK OF PETROLEUM EXPLORATION AND NIGERIA’S NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

 

INTRODUCTION

 

 

It is a very well known fact that today, petroleum constitutes the mainstay of the Nigerian economy, contributing not less than 90% of the country’s total yearly revenue. This trend is not likely to change in the foreseeable future, even though efforts are being made by the Nigerian government to diversify the nation’s revenue base. One often wonders what Nigeria would have looked like without oil. To be endowed with resources is one thing, but the ability to harness such resources is another matter altogether.

Thus, though the occurrence of large reserves of petroleum in the Arctic wilderness of Alaska had been known for many years, it was only in the last ten years that the right technology for the successful implementation of exploration and. production programmes in the area became” vailable in economic terms. The use ohery high technology in the oil industry is something that is very well known. What is often not very obvious is the crucial role physics as a basic science has to do with it all. . In this paper, we will highlight the crucial role applied, physics plays in petroleum technology.

In order to be brief, and still achieve our set objective, we will neither attempt to cover the entire spectrum of petroleum technology, nor discuss all the fields of applied physics that form the bedrock of such technologies. Such an’ effort would constitute a very formidable assignment. Instead of that, we will concentrate on the role of geophysics (which is just one area of applied physics) in petroleum exploration and development. In Nigeria today, our entire producing tields are located in the Tertiary Niger Delta basin. Although serious exploration activities have been going on in someother areas, notably, theChad and Anambra basins, and more recently in the Upper ‘and Middle Benue Valley, it is clear that exploration is now extending more and more into very hostile, high risk environments (Onuoha, 1987). This is already the case with Nigeria’s deep offshore where petroleum prospects are now known to exist, but at much higher cost and risk. This calls for the use of increasingly more sophisticated technology, and the geophysicists and petrophysicists in the industry havc to rise to the challenge.

THE ROLE OF GEOPHYSICS IN PETROLEUM EXPLORATION

Since exploration is the ‘cornerstone of the oil industry, and since without it our tcnown reserves (and exploitable resource base) would be used up, leading to the death of the industry, it means that geophysics is the bedrock of the industry. Geophysics is themajor tool used to image the interior of the Earth and unravel its contents, including the hydrocarbons that are so vital to our economy. Even though other professionals, notably geologists
andpetroleum engincp.rsplay important roles in petroleum explo- Iation and production (E & P), the role of the geophysiscist is central to itall Figure 1,illustratesdiagrammatically thiscentralised role when we examine the interactions between the geologist, .petrophysicist, reservoir engineer, and geophysicist in moving from how to understand “the known” to being able to predict “the unknown” below the surface of the Earth.

As is wellknown, severalmethods of exploration geophysics’ exist. Each of these methods is based on monitoring variations in a particular physical property (e.g. changes in magnetic susceptibility andpolarisation-magnetic methods; changes in elastic properties/ changes in velocity and mode of propagation of wavesseismic method). The most common methods of geophysical exploration are li~tedin Table 1below. For many obvious reasons all the geophysical methods do not enjoy the same degree of popularity or applicability in petroleum exploration. Gravity and magnetic methods are used extensively as reconnaissance tools in the cady sUlge~of p(;.wleuIn ~xploration. Their main application is in determining the general morphology and thickness of sediments above consolidated basement and in the delineation of major structures and faults in the basin.

PROJECT TOPIC- PHYSICS AS THE BEDROCK OF PETROLEUM EXPLORATION AND NIGERIA’S NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

 

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