|Proceedings of the Second International Symposium on Non-Conventional Energy Technology (PACE, 1984)|
By ALEXIS PEZARRO
I want to talk to you today about our method of oil and gas exploration - not so much the techniques involved, but the fact that we are able to find that there are certain energies emanating from the earth that are presently unknown to the present state of the art. If these energies are tapped, one is able to obtain a tremendous amount of information not available with present systems.
Now when we talk about the oil exploration field, one first has to have an understanding of the current state of the art. There is a tremendous public misconception regarding how this industry operates.
I got into this field after working in the Far East, which was my base for world-wide operations. I came to Canada where my brother was a consulting geophysicist. I inquired of him just how geophysicists find oil, and learned that it was the biggest guessing game in town. Nobody knows how to find oil. All the technology that exists today works such that if there are certain conditions in the ground, there may be or may not be oil. In fact, there appear to be no devices used by the oil companies which are of any great help to the geologists or the geophysicists. There is no way of telling if it is oil or gas or how deep. This can only be found by the very expensive method of drilling a hole.
In Scientific American, January 1981, there was a very interesting article written by William Menard, who was with a federal U.S. department of geology, I believe. It was titled "Toward a Rational Strategy for Oil and Gas Exploration". This article confirmed what I discovered in 1977, that if you compare the present exploration technology industry results in a given area with data randomly fed into a computer, you would far out-perform the industry. In other words, you really have to work hard to get as poor results as the industry gets. I was amazed with all the technology that has been developed that no better method existed.
I am a rather fortunate researcher in that when I start looking for something I usually find an answer. At that time, I was on a visit to Washington and met a friend of mine, Christopher Bird*, whom some of you may know. He indicated that there was some technology which he'd heard about in Florida relating to this issue. We looked at a device which seemed to be doing something highly unusual, which we later developed into the present oil and gas detection device.
- *Bird is author of The Divining Hand, a book on the history of dowsing.
I went back to Canada to find out why the industry's record was so poor. What makes it so difficult to find oil and gas? It would be the same as if I told one of you in the audience to go and talk to Jack and I didn't tell you who Jack was or where he was sitting. You would have a difficult job of finding him, not because you are stupid but because you simply don't have the information. For people in oil exploration, that's the condition that exists. There is geology which is based on the surface features or on the cores from other holes already drilled from which estimates have to be made. There are seismic techniques which tell them about certain conditions under the ground, which may or may not correspond to hydrocarbon presence. With this in mind, you have an industry which spends billions of dollars and has a success rate of 14%, or one in seven. On the ability to find large pools of oil, the success rate is one in 2800! This has nothing to do with the geologists; they are competent and capable people. It has to do with the fact that the technology does not give the information needed to make these decisions. So we thought, if there was a better way of doing this, if there was an instrument that could detect energies from the ground from which information could be extracted relating to hydrocarbons, we would have a wonderful tool.
The first test that we carried out with the present equipment was in Florida. In Florida there is only one oil field and that is in the north. So we went up with this very simple instrument to the field and set up the device. He started tuning it and noises came through the earphones which at the time meant nothing to me. He said that yes, there was oil here, not bad quality but a lot of water with it and that it was at about 9000 ft. The whole test took about 10 minutes.
I had no information about this particular field and it was a weekend, so no one was in the local office to give us the details. We were on our way back when we noticed a nearby service station had a car standing there and it turned out to be the weekend duty engineer's. He said that he had noticed that we had had a device standing beside the pumping well and was curious as to what we were doing. I asked him whether he'd mind giving us some information on this well. There is nothing secret about a pumping well, as all records are kept on file accessible by the public. He said that they were producing from 9000 ft. and that it came right up to 6000 ft. but that there was a lot of water with this oil and they were pumping at 300 barrels a day and getting 200 barrels of water, which had to be separated. I was very impressed!
I took this information back to Canada, to Alberta where I was living at the time. Alberta is the centre of the Canadian oil industry and I decided to develop this device further. Actually, I am not terribly interested in oil and gas as a subject but I thought that if I could develop something for the industry it would make them much more successful, be a service to everybody and very profitable for us. We have no objection to making money, so we decided to really develop this technology.
However, we were very naive about the oil industry. There ate no great conspiracies; we were treated with great courtesy by everyone we met. You must understand that to the major oil companies, not finding oil is not a problem at all! The whole thing is so structured that you can make a lot of money by drilling dry holes. This is especially true if you have a large tax write-off base because all sorts of incentives are open to you, and it also keeps smaller companies out of the business because of the expense. So we found no great incentive to change.
The industry is also structured in another peculiar way. It is like any large corporation, and it has its power cells. If I am in the geophysical department, it is a department that gets a lot of money, because exploration is one of the biggest expenses. I have a lot of power and I am really not interested in a technique that is relatively simple, which doesn't need a lot of money and doesn't give me a lot of power. Subconsciously, we are a threat to this person and he is on very safe grounds for rejecting me because he has the weight of his authority behind him to agree that this technique can't be possible.
As far as drilling is concerned, the technology employed there far, far exceeds that used in exploration. It is one part of the industry that truly has advanced.
We had to learn a lot about oil in the ground. It is different than water and is a much more complex thing to find. The fact that there is oil in the ground where you drill does not mean you will have a successful well. There are so many things that can go wrong when drilling that you just have to speak to an oil man to understand that. For example, if you use the wrong kind of mud when you're drilling, you can block off all the oil and never find it. If you cement the hole incorrectly you can lose your production or, if you have a lot of cavities nearby, water problems may prevent the oil from reaching the hole bottom.
While we were learning all about this, we were able to test the unit on the fields which are quite close to Calgary, Alberta. Basically, the instrument is able to be taken to a site where there is a known oil deposit and set up. Then we tune it in and pick up the hydrocarbons, tell how deep they are, whether gas, oil or water, how many zones you have without one interfering with the other and the general quality of the deposit. There is only one problem with this; we really don't know exactly how it works or what the energies are that it seems to pick up. We were hoping that with this device we could get the people in earth sciences to take an interest in it, work on it and develop it into much better and more sophisticated equipment.
As stated, we would go to known wells and calibrate the instrument for use on adjacent, unknown sites. For example, at 34 on our tuning dial we pick up oil which we know from known well logs is at say, 3000 ft. We know it is oil because we can hear the sound in the unit's earphones which represents oil. We then decided to go and present this to the oil industry. This was a great education to me.
We were sitting down with one of the majors (whose name I don't want to disgrace in public) and they asked me if I could guarantee 100% accuracy with the unit. This is an extraordinary question for a chief geophysicist to ask who is quite happy with a system which is only 14% accurate. I said no, we can't, but I think we are at least 75% accurate on the positive side (i.e. determining if a given site will have hydrocarbons at a given depth) because nature doesn't just lay everything out on a plate before you. But we are 100% right on the negative side - i.e. we have never condemned an area that turned out to be productive This we can say and this is far ahead of the industry. So we were sitting with about 15 people in their board room and one said that basically, you've got a black box which we don't know anything about. I replied by asking if any of them used calculators in their work and of course all did. But how many of you really understand how they work? Do you have to understand "chip" technology to use your calculators? There is no difference here - it is not important that you don't know exactly how it works. What is important is if the data you receive is valid. That is the bottom line.
They then said that they'd like to think about it, but decision making in large oil companies is not that simple. There are management groups, tremendous competitiveness and these people couldn't make any decisions. But we did find people who would use our service.
I would run this equipment from a small vehicle, and could do about 18 sites in a day's work. In remote areas I would use a helicopter. We would charge $5,000 per day for our services plus all expenses. We had no problem getting work and we spent most of this money trying to understand this equipment better. In working with these smaller companies, we would first ask about the area they wished to cover. They usually wanted to compare our evaluation with the information that they had. We always asked them to include a well that was completed or near completion. If we were wrong on that well, that they had hard hydrocarbon data on to act as a test well, then they wouldn't owe us a cent. It has never happened that we have not been paid.
We found that we have been able to do this very accurately and make money for smaller companies who wish to sell out to the "majors" depending on the presence or absence of hydrocarbons. SO far we have spent perhaps $450,00 of our own money trying to understand this unit and we still don't. The man who invented this unit was an Englishman who came to California in the 1940's and had been involved in RADAR during the war. I'm sure when he built this unit he knew exactly what he was doing. We have found that we have never been able to improve on it.
The unit that we have here today is a prototype built by George Hathaway and I am currently testing and adjusting it in Alberta.
I myself am presently involved in many more exciting developments but I firmly believe that this decade will see the death of the internal combustion engine, not only from work we are involved in but work being done by others also. We will then have hydrocarbons coming out of our ears. We do think that these energies that our device is able to pick up might be very significant in the sciences of geology and geophysics. I'm really sorry that nobody has decided to investigate this further. (Editor's Note: Pezarro went on to describe the sounds made by the unit upon detection of hydrocarbons: low rumble - oil, crackling - gas, hissing - water, and the use of a computer to identify the sounds.)