Oslo, 30th June, 2016: inApril, the Norwegian offshore technology company, announces today a first commercial agreement potentially worth $25-30 million for Venator, its game-changing, node-based seabed seismic acquisition system.
A letter of intent (LOI) has been signed with the Kazakhstan company GEO ENERGY GROUP LLP (GEG) to supply a Venator system, starting with a test project this autumn in the Caspian Sea. GEG will tender inApril’s Venator system in bids for upcoming major ocean bottom seismic (OBS) contracts.
Last year GEG acquired the interests of Petroleum Geo-Services (PGS) in PGS-Khazar to expand its offshore seismic services within Russia and internationally.
Vidar Hovland, CEO of inApril, said: ‘We welcome this big step in bringing Venator to market. It marks the beginning of a new generation of independent accessible OBS technology. Oil companies and contractors have long recognized the benefits of the high quality data possible from seabed seismic, but have been put off by the acquisition cost of existing cable and node acquisition technologies.’
‘Venator is a genuinely disruptive technology. It provides the safe, highly automated, rapid acquisition that companies have been waiting for – at significantly lower cost than existing systems.’
Vladimir Telbukhov, CEO of GEG, said: ‘We are pleased to become an early adopter of inApril’s technology. The Venator system’s obvious benefits in cost, efficiency and safety will be of great help in building our company’s seabed seismic acquisition offering and gaining highly competitive position in the market .’
In development since 2012, the Venator node-on-a-rope system, designed to handle more than 10,000 seismic nodes from one vessel, features an unprecedented level of efficiency and hands-free automation.
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About inApril AS
Privately held inApril AS, a leading innovator in marine seismic technology for the oil and gas industry, designs and manufactures the complete and fully integrated ocean bottom node based seabed seismic solution, Venator. A total rethink in the design, costs, operational efficiency and safety within seabed seismic acquisition.
About GEOENERGYGROUP LLP
GEO ENERGY GROUP LLP was established in 2005 and now it’s a fully integrated land and marine geophysical company, based in Kazakhstan and operating in the CIS region. The company has more than 10 years of experience in providing a complete portfolio of services to support the exploration, development and production of natural resources onshore and offshore including transition zones and shallow water areas (geophysical acquisition and processing solutions, interpretation and reservoir monitoring). In 2015, the Company acquired 100% interest in the leading Russian marine seismic company PGSKhazar LLC, thereby increasing its capacity, technical equipment and expand the horizons of possibilities
June 13, 2016. Tore Valderhaug and Jan Helgebostad were elected new board members at inApril´s annual general assembly on 13 June 2016.
They both were elected for a period of two years and replace John Thompson and Terje Sparengen, who have served on the board since 2014.
”We are very pleased that Tore and Jan join us as they will add solid financial, commercial and strategic perspectives to the board”, says CEO and Founder Vidar Hovland.
Tore Valderhaug has close to 20 years’ experience as finance director/CFO in the Norwegian publicly listed companies Cermaq, EDB Business Partner, ASK Proxima, Ocean Rig and Unitor. Valderhaug was CFO and head of business development in PHARMAQ AS, a leading pharmaceutical company supplying the aquaculture industry until the company was sold late 2015. He is currently also a member of the board of the publicly listed companies Nordic Semiconductor ASA, Q-Freee ASA and XXL ASA.
Jan Helgebostad holds a M.Sc in Geology/Geophysics from The Norwegian Institute of Technology (NTNU) and a MBA from BI Norwegian Business School. Helgebostad has more than 30 years’ experience from the geophysical industry and he managed for 10+ years Fugro-Geoteam’s global sales and marketing activities. His work has in addition focused on business development, strategic processes and technology development.
It is well known that seismic companies have a long tradition for patenting their solutions and it has become a necessity for all players in the industry to navigate carefully in the development and use of seismic equipment.
The validity of patents will always be geographically limited – some very narrow and some wider. As a relative newcomer to the market for seabed seismic systems we fully respect IP secured through patents and have spent a significant amount of time and money navigating our way through the field of patents and patent applications.
In inApril we always try to stay clear of existing IP in our efforts to design cost efficient seabed solutions, but it is not always clear what will or will not infringe existing patents. Despite our best efforts there may be patents that we have overlooked in our searches and there may also be ‘prior art’ in the sector. As the case is for any equipment supplier, inApril can therefore not rule out that parts of our solutions could infringe other’s patents rights if used in certain countries.
inApril works under strict ethical standards and we will always inform our customers of what we know when it comes to other’s patents, but we can not control how and where our customers use inApril’s equipment and solutions. The responsibility will therefore always be with our customers to carry out their own evaluations and make their own decisions.
In our patent searches we have seen that some patent applications cover the most obvious solutions. To reduce the risk of anyone, intentionally or unknowingly, trying to patent parts of our Venator solution or ways of operating, we have decided to make public elements of our solutions that previously might not have been presented in a traceable way, although they have been disclosed in meetings with potential customers and end users.
Most of what is listed below will become an integrated part of our marketing material and other documentation. The list is not complete and more solutions will be added over time. It should be noted that some of the solutions we make public this way might be included in presently non-public inApril patent applications.
The A3000 node is designed to meet the requirements for all types of nodal operations, whether for cable or ROV deployment. However, we also deliver nodes for special markets such as transition zones. Some of our nodes have electronics and sensors in separate pressure compartments.
Rope or Cable
Venator is currently designed for rope with a central core payload for the right buoyancy. However, replacing the node’s ‘rope latch’ mechanism may allow the use of other cables such as steel wire. Replacement can be carried out without the need to open up the node’s pressure compartments.
Venator does not use expensive rope termination joints – rope sections are joined together by means of conventional rope splices. This approach was taken because it adds no cost, is quicker to connect, provides a stronger solution and is more flexible in use.
The Venator nodes can operate in different recoding modes. These include:
Recording starts as the onboard charging power is disconnected and continues until the charging power is connected again.
Recording starts when the node has been steady on the seabed for a set time. The recording may also be programmed to stop again when the node detects that recovery has commenced.
Recording starts after a fixed time from when the node has been deployed from the vessel. The recording may also be programmed to stop again when the node detects that recovery has commenced.
The nodes record and store an RMS value of all four channels at regular intervals in addition to an accumulated RMS. This is used for QC of the data in the data management system.
Data Management System
In addition to its normal task of taking care of the data from the nodes, the Venator data management system also performs the following tasks:
Keeping track of locations and status of all nodes at all times.
Selecting the sequence of nodes to be deployed and where the nodes shall be docked once recovered.
Controlling the rope speed and node intervals/positions on the rope.
The Venator data management system is designed for ‘hands-free’ operations. The flow and processes are mostly automatic and the focus is on monitoring and QC.
Venator has all nodes connected with power, data communication and a clock synchronization signal at all times while onboard. This means that the clock will normally never be switched off, which again improves the stability of the clock significantly over time. The nodes do however have a ‘standby mode’ for longer storage (eg. onshore storage).
A standard Venator system has sufficient docking positions/slots for all nodes. The nodes can dock in any docking slot.
Venator uses a ‘crane’ to move nodes between docking slots. The ‘crane’ can carry two nodes at a time, is not linked to any carrier system and can only move nodes between different slots.
Dummy docking-slots are used for pick-up and delivery of the nodes. Nodes are pushed or pulled in or out of the dummy docking-slot(s). The ‘crane’ moves nodes between a dummy slot and a ‘real’ slot. The sequence can be to move nodes via dedicated slots for clock sync/drift and/or data downloading before being moved to a parking slot. The parking slots have power, data communication and a clock sync pulse.
The built-in transponder can operate in different modes to extend the battery endurance. These modes are, but limited to:
Always powered as long as the onboard external charging power is disconnected.
Powered from when the onboard charging power is disconnected (deployment) and until it has been stable on the seabed for a set time. The transponder power in this mode will normally be programmed to come on again if the node experience movements (typically, but not necessarily, recovery).
In combination with point two above there are options to preprogram the power to come on at certain times or under certain conditions while on the seabed.
In mode two and three above the power will remain on for a set time after the last interrogation from the vessel.
The building of the major elements of the Venator’s Launch and Recovery System was completed 26th November (2 weeks delayed) and has since been thoroughly tested. The target speed was set to a continuous 3 knots with no stops during deployment or recovery. During the test the system was operated at up to 5 knots with no problems. We are very happy with this achievement, but equally important is that the design is simple and robust with few sensors and moving parts. The system will now be moved to another location near Oslo where potential contractor customers and end users will be invited for demonstrations from mid January.
This years show had fewer visitors than previous years and the general mood was as expected, subdued. But for the three of us that manned inApril’s booth, the exhibition was just another confirmation that we are doing the right things and that the timing is good for introducing a cost-efficient Ocean Bottom Node (OBN) solution. We had three busy days and experienced a strong interest from oil companies, potential customers, analysts and not the least, competitors.
There was a consensus amongst participants that there will be a growing demand for seabed seismic in the coming years, and that this growth will come from more use of cost-efficient OBN seismic systems as inApril has developed (Venator). The picture below is representative for how it was most of the time; busy with people learning more about Venator and watching the animations. A handful of potential customers expressed the desire to come to Norway to see the Launch and Recover System (LRM) demonstrated. This unit is being built and will be ready for internal testing in second half of November. Potential customers will be invited for a demonstration in January.
Based on the positive feedback from SEG we have decided to speed up the remaining test plans, which involves building 50 – 100 nodes to collect seismic data during next spring / summer.
inApril has contracted to ProFocus Systems to develop Venator’s integrated Data Management and Operator Console system. The system will deliver post processed navigation data in near real-time.
“We are very satisfied with having ProFocus onboard in building Venator to become the complete and fully integrated system for ocean bottom node acquisition. Their knowledge and competence in onboard seismic data management is unparalleled and will ensure a robust and top notch solution,” says Vidar Hovland, CEO of inApril.
ProFocus is a software company based in Bergen, Norway, established 2001, developing Recording Software, Data Management Software, and Real Time Quality Control systems for the high-end marine seismic acquisition industry. The company has installed Tape Management and Real Time Quality Control systems on nearly 60 seismic vessels world wide. Currently, Profocus has more than 20 vessels under support and maintenance contract. In addition to regular towed seismic operations, Profocus has developed several systems for 4-component seabed installations, including nodes, recoverable cables, and permanent reservoir monitoring.