Baldwin Hills, California

1996 to 1997

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Interferometric SAR for Oil and Gas Applications

One of the key applications of SAR is based on the fact that phase information is retained/required during processing of the imagery. As a result, it is possible to use the phase information as a sensitive measurement tool for changes in position across the image. Known generically as SAR interferometry, or InSAR, this family of techniques enables the measurement of topographic height, changes in topographic height, and changes in scattering properties within a SAR scene.

An important application of InSAR is the measurement of ground motion. Differential SAR interferometry (DifSAR) was initially demonstrated as an important tool in the observation of tectonic and volcanic deformation, as well as monitoring ice motion. More recently, DifSAR has been demonstrated within the water resource community to be a valuable tool in detecting, monitoring, and assessing ground motion arising from oil and gas exploration and extraction activities.

The utility of InSAR has been demonstrated in a number of both hard rock and fluid mining activities. Measured motion in oilfields - both upward and downward motion - using InSAR has replaced GPS in some instances. It is an effective tool for regulating injection activities and for monitoring hazards to well casings associated with subsidence. Other applications of this technology to the mining industry include monitoring both open pit mine walls and dewatering operations.

The example on the left shows an InSAR-derived measurement of uplift near the Inglewood oilfield in Baldwin Hills, California. The exact operational conditions preceding this motion are not known. However, it is likely that the upward ground motion is the result of an injection process.

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