Founded in 1993 as Engineering Seismology Group Canada Inc., ESG has grown to become one of the most trusted providers of microseismic monitoring services across the mining, oil and gas and geotechnical industries.
ESG Solutions was founded in 1993 as Engineering Seismology Group Canada Inc. Today, the company is active in microseismic monitoring projects in the oil and gas, mining and geotechnical industries but its roots lie in microseismic monitoring for the Canadian mining industry. The group was loosely formed out of a research lab at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario that was looking at a form of seismology called microseismics, or 'passive seismic'.
Microseismic science is literally the study of very small scale earthquakes that are induced by industrial processes such as mining or oil production. In the 1980’s, many mines in northern Ontario were experiencing increased seismic activity, including a large rockburst which killed 4 miners in Sudbury 1984. In response to this accident, a consortium of mining companies was established with government support to determine whether monitoring microseismic activity could have prevented this tragedy. The research lab at Queen’s University then set out to develop instrumentation, software and processing routines to locate the source of microseismic activity in mines, and when the lab disbanded in the early 1990s, ESG’s founders continued this important work in a commercial capacity. From here, ESG’s work expanded to include microseismic monitoring at mines all over the world, including in the USA, Canada, Australia, Chile, Peru, Romania, Indonesia, India and China.
ESG's first permanent seismic system installation took place at the Retsof Salt Mine in the Genesee Valley near Retsof, New York. In 1994, the Retsof Salt Mine was the largest salt mine in North America, and the second largest in the world. Mining activities had caused the collapse of a 500 by 500 foot piece of the mine celing at a depth of 1,200 feet below the surface. The collapse of the shale celing rock compromised the caprock layer separating the mine from overlying ground water, and the mine began to flood. The failure caused a magnitude 3.6 earthquake that was felt on the surface, as well as release of natural gases, declining aquifer levels and surface subsidence. An ESG seismic system was installed using boreholes and surface-based sensors to evaluate the integrity of the mine as it flooded and track the sinkhole generated at the surface.
In the late 1990s, ESG began applying the knowledge gained from work in the mining industry to the oil and gas sector. ESG began monitoring well stimulations using instrumentation installed in treatment wells and remote observation wells to define event locations and source mechanisms. ESG went on to analyze the microseismicity associated with compaction in the North Sea Ekofisk and Valhall fields.
In 1997, ESG pioneered the use of microseismics in shale gas extraction in the Cotton Valley fields in East Texas. Through work with Union Pacific Resources (now Anadarko) ESG obtained geometric and fracture growth characteristics for hydraulic fracture stimulations. The Cotton Valley Hydraulic Fracture Project was initiated in order to determine if microseismicity can be used to accurately map fracture geometry and depict hydraulic fracture growth, and be further employed to improve fracture design (fracture models), optimize the number and location of wells (reservoir drainage), and improve on-site production methodologies.
The findings of this project lead to the development of Fracmap®, the petroleum industry’s first viable commercial hydraulic fracture imaging and interpretation service in January 2000.
Since 2002, ESG has been active in monitoring EOR activities in the heavy oil sands of Western Canada. Microseismic monitoring has proven to be a valuable resource to map out steam movement during CSS and SAGD operations, as well as ensuring environmental compliance by mapping containment, caprock integrity and well casing failures.
ESG also recently completed the installation of the world’s largest field-wide monitoring system in the Middle East to optimize production activities, and the installation of a permanent microseismic monitoring system at the largest gold mine in the world, located in Indonesia.
In recent years, ESG has built on years of technical expertise and a reputation as an innovator in the microseismic industry by offering its advanced Enhanced Reservoir Characterization (ERC) analysis to the hydraulic fracture market. This powerful analysis is used to help optimize fracture stimulations by evaluating the failure mechanisms of the rock as fractures develop as well as better understand deformation within a reservoir using statistical methods. For more information, please see Advanced Microseismic Analysis.
The formation of ESG's Innovation and Technology Group (ITG) in 2015 brought the R&D capabilities for the Global Energy and Mining groups together under the direction of Chief Technology Officer, Dr. Ted Urbancic. In addition to continuing to develop new tools and techniques to analyze and interpret oilfield microseismic data, ESG is working hard to apply many advanced microseismic capabilities developed for oil and gas applications to the mining and geotechnical industries.
In 2011, ESG re-entered the realm of wireline microseismic acquisition with the purchase a fleet of trucks and wireline tools to serve the US and Canadian markets. ESG successfully launched its wireline monitoring services by monitoring a 10-stage horizontal hydraulic fracture operation in the southern US, providing around-the-clock microseismic monitoring from three vertical observation wells. Since then, ESG has offered complete microseismic monitoring solutions for hydraulic fracture operations throughout the US and Western Canada.
In 2014, ESG was acquired by Spectris plc., a leading supplier of productivity-enhancing instrumentation and controls. Headquartered in Egham, Surrey, United Kingdom, the Company employs over 8,000 people with offices in more than 30 countries. For more information, visit www.spectris.com
In 2015, Spectris acquired Spectraseis, a leading supplier of microseismic monitoring technology and analysis solutions to customers in the oil and gas and minig sectors. The company has been integrated into ESG Solutions, which now represents one of the leading suppliers of both downhole and surface-based microseismic solutions.
In 2013, ESG was awarded US patent 8,605,544 for its proprietary Hybrid™ passive seismic deployment strategy. The Hybrid™ Seismic Sensor Network combines the use of high frequency and low frequency passive seismic sensors in borehole and near-surface arrays to accurately monitor induced seismicity from -3 to +3 in moment magnitude. ESG currently holds 4 patents. Please visit our Intellectual Property page for a complete list.
ESG has a long history of dedication to research and innovation. In recent years, ESG has launched a number of new products and services and continues to push the boundaries of microseismic technology and services.
In 2012, ESG launched a number of new products and services including the Paladin® IV microseismic recorder, Mining and Geotechnical Consulting Services, its patent pending SMTI Production Suite™ and patented Hybrid™ Downhole/near-surface monitoring solutions.
In 2013, ESG unveiled its SuperCable™ technology - a unique retrievable, long-term borehole deployment system. 2013 also marked ESG's 20th anniversary in microseismic monitoring. ESG continues to make significant investments in analytical and product R&D to ensure that our clients receive the highest quality and most technologically advanced microseismic solution in the industry.
In 2016 ESG launched its latest advanced analysis service offering for the oil and gas industry. The Flow Dynamics Suite™ is a game-changer for the industry and introduces a new statistical approach to evaluating seismicity within reservoirs.
ESG Solutions is excited to be a part of the efforts made by the Ultra-Deep Mining Network (UDMN), a national business-led NCE network, managed through the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation (CEMI) to develop a method for stress tensor determination from microseismic source mechanism results that will lead to advanced analysis and interpretive capability, making deep mines safer and more productive.
ESG’s stress inversion method will work with small localized event clusters where the data quality is high enough and captured on enough sensors to perform source mechanism analysis using seismic moment tensor inversion (SMTI).
The objective of this project is to develop a number of analytics algorithms that will provide mine staff with additional data allowing the assessment of the test pillar’s support capability and evaluate the conditions under which the stress tensor can be derived from event mechanisms in a mining environment where different shear and volumetric event mechanisms occur.
The ability to obtain reliable stress information from seismic data presents opportunities for mine model calibration and improved model forecasting. The use of seismic stress inversion analysis can help a mine better validate stress models and better understand failure processes, leading to improved mine design and safety procedures.