Oil and gas exploration
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
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
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
- *Bird is author of The Divining Hand, a book on the history of
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
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
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
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