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Swedish firm's technology aided by a bit of stardom.

('Rocky IV' actor, Dolph Lundgren develops method for oil exploration)

by Nick Snow, The Oil Daily, May 7, 1986

HOUSTON -- When you're a small Swedish company trying to sell an emerging technology, you face an uphill battle getting attention. Unless, that is, your company spokesman is known by millions of movie fans as the cold-blooded Soviet fighter who killed Apollo Creed and was, in turn, vanquished by Rocky Balboa.

It was not Ivan Drago who was doing the talking Monday afternoon at the 1986 Offshore Technology Conference, however. It was Dolph Lundgren -- all six and a half feet of him -- speaking not as the actor who played the heavy in "Rocky IV", but as vice president of PetroScan A.B.

Lundgren's involvement with the company is not pure publicity. "Normally, I speak about the movie business instead of offshore technology," he conceded. "But because of PetroScan, I've had the opportunity to do some work in the field I'm educated in: chemical engineering."

He explained that he graduated from the University of Stockholm, with a co-degree from the University of Sydney, in chemical engineering, and was doing graduate work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology when he decided to try being an actor.

Correlating Data

Meanwhile, the technology that would lead to PetroScan was itself emerging. Called the Natural Resources Delivery (NRD) method, it was developed by research at the University of Lund in Sweden about four years ago.

Lundgren said these scientists, as they worked on certain satellite data, discovered a 70 to 80 percent correlation between the data and offshore oil deposits.

A computer-based, remote sensing method for mapping of offshore oil and natural gas deposits, the NRD method uses a computerized-overlay technique to merge satellite data with geologic, geophysical and meteorological information, according to PetroScan.

"The data is readily available. But you have to know how to interpret it," Lundgren told reporters during a press conference.

"It takes some lateral thinking," added his brother, Bert, who is PetroScan's president. "You'd never find it approaching the problem with tunnel vision. You would not discover it starting out to discover a new hydrocarbon search method. It was discovered by accident."

Software Development

The next step for the two Lund University scientists was to develop a software program. That's where Bert Lundgren and his company came in.

"Currently," said Dolph Lundgren, "95 percent of all offshore prospecting is done by seismic methods. It's a trial-and-error approach that's quite expensive. NRD eliminates the need for most regional seismic exploration, cutting the cost about 10 percent."

But the greater saving comes in improving the ratio of discoveries to dry holes. Currently, only one of every 10 wells drilled offshore is a discovery. The Lundgrens think PetroScan, with its continuous 70 percent correlation of satellite data to known offshore reserves, could boost the discovery rate to nearly 50 percent.

Other advantages are its lack of sensitivity, since it's non-seismic, to water depths. The NRD method will indicate a hydrocarbon deposit greater than some 50 million barrels at depths down to some 5 kilometers. It is especially useful in frontier areas, where it virtually replaces regional seismic studies, and in mature areas, where it assists in continued development, including in-field drilling.

Based on a record of more than 200 new field wildcat drilling results within different areas around the world, PetroScan said the NRD method is more than 75 percent accurate. Moreover, it provides -- with an accuracy close to 100 percent -- information on areas where not to drill for oil and gas.

The technique is not currently applicable onshore, although the Lundgrens said the research could change that.

Secrecy Agreements

"Any potential client who wants to use it signs a secrecy agreement," said Dolph Lundgren. "Then we tell them how it works."

In the case of Geco A.S. of Oslo, Norway, that meant getting the signature of the company's president, Anders Farestveit. "Geco became interested in the process while it was still in the university stage," said Bert Lundgren. "He signed the secrecy agreement and ordered it the same day."

He said the companies which have expressed interest include Atlantic Richfield, which was looking at it for possible worldwide applications, and other companies in Norway, Canada and the United States.

"We're ready to expand and bring this system into the light," said Dolph Lundgren. "We're talking with the large geophysical and oil companies."

PetroScan recognizes that the oil and gas industry is skeptical about the NRD method. "Any large industry would be, when an approach contradicts a procedure that's been used for a long time," he said. "What we're looking for are people with open minds -- because it works."