Magnetic fields

Offshore Hydrocarbon Mapping almost trebled its turnover to £4.7m in the year to August and turned a £360,000 loss into a £400,000 pre-tax profit.

Offshore Hydrocarbon Mapping (OHM), which uses electromagnetic sensors to find new energy reserves, claims that its technology is winning over the oil and gas industries.

The UK company, whose technology transmits an electro-magnetic field into the ocean’s floor to detect hidden accumulations of oil and gas, almost trebled its turnover to £4.7m in the year to August and turned a £360,000 loss into a £400,000 pre-tax profit.

However, the gloss was taken off the performance by an unspecified incident resulting in the loss of a transmitter used by one of its exploration crews.

OHM gave no further details and said a replacement transmitter had been despatched, but warned that the setback was likely to have an impact on the current year’s profits.

OHM, a spin-out from the University of Southampton, claimed that its core technology, controlled source electromagnetic imaging (CSEMI), has the potential to allow exploration of potential deep water fields without expensive and time-consuming test drilling.

CSEMI generates a deep electromagnetic field that is measured by receivers placed on the seabed. The data is processed to produce measurements of the sub-surface that can yield important clues to the presence of oil and gas reserves.

The technique has already been adopted by one big oil company with good results said OHM, with most other oil majors and many of the leading independents in the sector showing strong interest. It claimed that ‘mass industry adoption of the method will follow in the foreseeable future.’

The company said it had focused on three main areas of R&D in a bid to improve the performance of its CSEMI technology.

OHM has worked on the signal-to-noise ratio in its data, allowing it to bring increasingly subtle analysis to deeper target regions. Its third generation transmitter produced a 25-fold improvement in signal-to-noise, the company said.

The exploration specialist has also developed the ability to create 3D inversions of its field data, allowing complex images to be produced of the resistivity of the sub-surface – the key factor in determining the presence of hydrocarbons.

Finally, OHM completed a project to improve its ability to operate in shallower waters, where CSEMI currently runs into difficulties because its data is overwhelmed by trapped energy. The company claimed it was making significant progress towards overcoming these problems, allowing it to enter new shallow-water markets.