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PESA Vic/Tas Branch June Technical Meeting

Wednesday, June 21, 2017 @ 12:00 - 14:00

Guest Speaker: Michael Wilson

Michael Wilson graduated in Mathematics from University of New England (many years ago). After a short stint as a chalky and a statistician, joined a seismic contracting company in Brisbane. He Initially worked all over Australia, Queensland, NSW, South Australia and Western Australia, followed by overseas assignments in Asia, South America and North Africa/Middle East.

He then worked with Esso/Exxon in Australia, Malaysia and USA over 21 years, then 5 years with Woodside, primarily on Gulf of Mexico and Libya. In 2004 he started as a Geophysical Consultant in Vietnam and Malaysia, and is currently consulting in Papua New Guinea.

The “Doodlebugger” a term for seismic field personnel was coined in the USA Gulf Coast, in early 1940’s.

They work in the most extreme climates, brave the most dangerous countries, and suffer some of the worst wages in the oil and gas industry. Most importantly, doodlebuggers are renowned for their ability to drink massive amounts of alcohol without dying and to find hookers in any city, village or hamlet in the world. Doodlebuggers often work in camps in the middle of nowhere, and are rarely seen in their natural environment. Easily identified by their pot bellies and lack of shaving. They tell the BEST stories. (Urban Dictionary)


Their quest was to locate subsurface structures, suitable for drilling for accumulations of hydrocarbons. Initially these structures were salt domes that were deep enough, not to have a surface expression. A huge variety of techniques from gravity measurements, divining rods, witchcraft, black boxes and ultimately primitive seismic techniques were employed.

Needless to say this expanded into the massive and highly technical seismic industry as we know it today. Would any company drill a highly expensive well today without trying to reduce the risk with seismic. It was not just to locate the structures but discern the best place to drill.

The industry (like all industries) had primitive beginnings as I will try to show. There are very few of us old “grey heads” who have some memories of what it was like, albeit my exposure was not till the late 60’s early 70’s, but I chatted with a lot of old doodlebuggers going well before my time.

I have seen seismic crews in Australia, Thailand, Brazil, Canada, Papua New Guinea, Algeria, Libya, Egypt, Oman, Malaysia, GoM-Louisiana and Texas, Vietnam, both onshore and offshore. These covered environments from farmland, deserts, jungles, swamps and coastal seas plagued with fishing boats and deeper water plagued with marine mammals. Seismic sources were dynamite, weight-drop, vibrators and even gravity and magnetics, plus of course airguns for offshore.

This talk is to cover some of these topics and intersperse it with some personal experiences, both good and bad. Quite a few of which I would only relate after several beers to a selective audience.


Wednesday, June 21, 2017
12:00 - 14:00


Henry & The Fox
525 Little Collins Street, Melbourne, Victoria 3000 Australia


(03) 8199 0317
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