Lu Yi (second from left), Jin Zufa (right) and MT field crew take a well-earned lunch break after final pre-survey acquisition checks in Western Jiangsu Province. CNPC South China operates a calibration site here and all equipment must produce satisfactory data at this site before paid survey work may begin.
On the loading dock: Phoenix Vice-President James Kok (left) and field supervisor George Elliott (right) oversee shipment of some of the many System 2000 units sold to China early this year.
In 1996 Phoenix introduced a new generation of MT equipment - the System 2000. Hugely successful, Phoenix's system is used for the great majority of surveys in China.
China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), uses MT more than any other oil company in the world; CNPC moved swiftly to capitalize on the many advantages of the latest generation of MT equipment. MT for oil & gas exploration is expanding, driven by a rising oil import bill, the low cost of MT compared to seismic, a rapidly growing base of successful applications and a great increase in data quality provided by the new technology. Even in very noisy areas such as the Hubei and Jiangsu provinces good quality data is now routine.
CNPC quality standards for MT are now much stricter than in most western countries. CNPC uses MT in two basic ways: long, continuous profiles (for detailed surveys) and distributed, individual points approx. 1 km apart (for reconnaissance). During 2000, thousands of km of profiles, and thousands of square km of prospective areas will be surveyed with MT all over China, from Xinjiang and Qinghai in the west, to Mongolia in the north. Heilongjiang in the northeast, Jiangsu, Hubei, and Anhui in central China, and Yunnan, Sichuan, and other provinces in the south. MT is used not only where seismic records are poor, but also where seismic would be very costly or too difficult.
The scale of MT use in China is much larger than any application elsewhere by the oil industry - yet most hydrocarbon explorationists outside China are unfamiliar with the scale of MT application in China and the degree of its success, not to mention the cost savings compared to seismic.
More surveys require more equipment, so many more MT acquisition units were ordered by several Chinese service companies in late 1999 and early 2000. Most of the buyers are old clients of Phoenix. The accelerating privatization of formerly state-owned groups has produced a very dynamic, profit- and results-oriented MT service industry.
One group of visitors, from the 5th Division (Wu Chu) of the CNPC's Bureau of Geophysical Prospecting (BGP), arrived at Phoenix December 24 and, shortly after the New Year, concluded a contract for a large System 2000 to be used for MT exploration in north and northwest China. This system replaces a competitor's hardware, nearly doubles "Wu Chu's" MT capability and solidifies Wu Chu's position as the biggest MT con- tractor in the world.
Jianghan Oilfield (JOF) also joined the "New Year party", significantly expanding the System 2000 they purchased in May, 1999. Zhejiang Petroleum Exploration, headquartered in the beautiful city of Hangzhou, also replaced a competitor's equipment and joined the "System 2000 club". (Like WuChu, both JOF and Zhejiang replaced competitor's equipment with Phoenix systems.)
Two other old clients, divisions of CNNC (China Nonferrous Metals Corp) expanded their existing systems.
Finally, Phoenix welcomed its oldest client in China, the First Comprehensive Geophysical Survey Team (in Anhui Province), as a System 2000 owner in November 1999.
MT surveying is now a year-round business in China, interrupted only by the Chinese New Year celebration in early February. After the New Year, early in the "Year of the Dragon", nearly 15 MT crews will be active all over China, earning profits with their Phoenix System 2000 MT equipment.
China now can field nearly 200 Phoenix System 2000 MT units; the scale and priority of the application is causing MT to evolve rapidly in China, both in practical and theoretical terms.