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Oil and gas prospecting by ultra-sensitive optical gas detection with inverse gas dispersion modelling.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


  • B. Hirst
  • G. Gibson
  • S. Gillespie
  • I. Archibald
  • O. Podlaha
  • K. D. Skeldon
  • J. Courtial
  • S. Monk
  • M. Padgett
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>06/2004
<mark>Journal</mark>Geophysical Research Letters
Issue numberL12115
Pages (from-to)4 PP
<mark>Original language</mark>English


We report a new oil and gas prospecting technique based on measurements of sub-part-per-billion ethane concentration in the atmosphere and local wind data. The sensitivity of our sensor enables detection, from a range of several km, of the naturally occurring ethane seepages that accompany hydrocarbon reservoirs. Using the concentration and wind data, the gas dispersion process is inverted to provide maps of surface ethane flux over several hundred km(2). Within a desert environment, we demonstrate the technique is capable of locating a controlled release and corresponds with the results from a geochemical soil sampling survey conducted over the same oil field.