Seismic Reflections: Tom O’Toole, Product Manager

Dec 14, 2023 10:35:03 AM

As part of our Seismic Reflections series, we interviewed Product Manager at STRYDE, Tom O’Toole. 

Tom discusses the highs and lows of the seismic industry in 2023, along with his forecasts for the key drivers and challenges anticipated in 2024. Read on for Tom’s key takeaways…

What has been your biggest lesson learned from the world of seismic in 2023?

“2023 was the year when seismic activities for the energy transition really started to happen, specifically with significant new 3D seismic datasets acquired for geothermal and carbon capture and storage (CCS) applications. 

“These projects bring seismic into urban and industrial areas now more than ever before, reinforcing the need for flexible, lightweight, nodal acquisition systems.”


What seismic or exploration challenges have been particularly prevalent in 2023, and how can they be overcome in 2024?

“Every project has its unique challenges, but the perennial themes of land access and minimising environmental impacts of surveys have been very prevalent in 2023. 

“The small size of the STRYDE Node™ helps with acceptance by landowners, communities and permitting authorities. This is because the nodes can be planted without interfering with local land use and there is no need for any heavy equipment vehicles.

“Overcoming these challenges will require more use of nodes in combination with innovations on the source side, such as hand-portable impulsive sources and lightweight, all-electric, vibroseis.”


What trends can you identify from the past 12 months within the seismic sector?

“There are some signs that full waveform inversion (FWI) is starting to become a more “common” land processing deliverable. While improvements to processing algorithms and data-centre hardware help make this possible, surveys need to be designed with FWI in mind. 

“This could mean denser designs, more sweep tests at project start-up, and the need for rapid in-field processing to evaluate optimal sweep parameters to take into production.”


What do you anticipate to see in the world of seismic next year that excites you?

“With a continued focus on the energy transition, especially in places such as Europe and North America, there will be more challenging 3Ds to acquire in complex environments close to people, nature and infrastructure. Delivering these projects will push all stakeholders to do their best work, together.”


What will be the biggest driver of positive seismic change in 2024?

“People! Seismic happens because of the passion, expertise and dedication of a relatively small group of people who can both communicate the value of seismic and deliver that value through the high quality datasets and images acquired. This has always been the case, and will continue to be so in 2024 and beyond.”


What will be the biggest seismic acquisition challenge faced by companies in 2024, and what can they do to avoid or overcome it?

“Unfortunately, also people! The social license to operate is more crucial now than ever before, and judicious selection of source and receiver technology can help projects gain local acceptance and minimise the impact of human interference during production.”


What has been your personal STRYDE highlight from the past 12 months?

“Without a doubt, visiting the world’s biggest nodal crew, which has been operating over 160,000 STRYDE Nodes™ continuously for the last two years. That’s a total of 4.5 million unique node deployments and counting! 

“There was so much to learn from observing and working with such seasoned users of the system.”


What project have you most enjoyed working on this year?

“It can be hard to keep up with our customers as they continue to break land seismic survey size and density records, but it’s become clear that help is needed to better manage the volume of data output by these ever-growing surveys. 

“We have been working on new software to help with exactly this challenge, and it has been very rewarding and enjoyable to see these tools mature over the last year, and to now see the positive impact they are having as we begin to roll them out to the field.”


Can you highlight a specific project or initiative from 2023 that exemplified our company's capabilities and innovation?

“It was great fun figuring out how to do a full demo of the STRYDE system in 5 minutes within the confines of our booth at the EAGE Annual event in Vienna this year! 

“The whole STRYDE team pulled together to make it work, and the fully functional Lego vibroseis truck (a labour of love built by one of our engineers) was the icing on the cake. People loved being able to take home a copy of their very own seismic wiggles!”


What positive feedback have we received from clients and what impact is our product having? 

“When our customers say things like “The STRYDE Nodes™ are the instruments I've been waiting for,” then the impact is pretty clear. We hear plenty of very positive things about our product, but it’s part of my job to avoid being flattered and make sure our “feedback sensors” are objective so we hear and respond to any less good stuff too. One way to do this is to observe behaviours rather than simply asking people what they think about our product. 

“At a micro level, every encounter I have with users stimulates multiple ideas for product improvements or entirely new problems our product could solve. At a macro level, we see our existing customers continue to come back to STRYDE to fulfill the needs of their next project, as well as a steady stream of new customers who continue to discover us and the value our products unlock for their seismic use cases. 

“This tells me we are delivering on our core value proposition and are well positioned to continue growing in 2024.”


What type of companies do you think will benefit most from STRYDE in 2024?

“Everyone involved in the business of land seismic acquisition can benefit from STRYDE’s products! The ease of onboarding to the system and field operational efficiency requiring less crew means that smaller contractors can compete for (and win) bigger and more complex projects by bidding STRYDE. 

“Of course, the system was designed from the ground up with mega-projects in mind, so ultimately the biggest benefits of using STRYDE are realised by contractors running large 3D campaigns, and we expect to see plenty more of these in 2024.”

Discover more in our Seismic Reflections blog post series and uncover the STRYDE team’s top insights on the past year in the seismic sector, as well as their future outlook for 2024…

BLOG SERIES: The most important equipment considerations for reliable, efficient, and cost-effective land seismic acquisition