Stress Field Detector

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The Stress Field Detector, or SFD, is a sensor originally described by Owl Industries of Vancouver, BC in 1992 as capable of detecting subsurface discontinuities including faults, fractures and hydrocarbon deposits. It is currently being used for hydrocarbon exploration in aerial surveys and surface surveys by NXT Energy of Calgary and other users.

Device operation[edit]

The original description of SFD by Owl Industries as of January 19, 1993 (part of the filings with BC Supreme Court case C944272) only said that the premise behind device's operation was "that there exist above ground, non-electromagnetic energy patterns reflecting various subsurface conditions", same definition was repeated exactly in Pinnacle Oil International brochure from 1996. NXT Energy has described SFD in its literature as a device that can measure "changes in subsurface stress fields associated with structural and stratigraphic hydrocarbon traps and reservoirs".[1]

NXT Energy's description of the device operation[2] explicitly claims that the device detects an aspect of gravity different from that detected by gravimeters and gravity gradiometry, followed by:

"Regionally, tectonics acting on rock mass will cause a slight increase in matter density due to elevated horizontal stress. That in turn will cause a re-orientation of the gravity field in the direction of maximum horizontal stress".

Since it is precisely the orientation, along with rate of change in all directions, of local gravity field that gravity gradiometry measures, it is not obvious what aspect of gravity company's description of the device operation refers to.

All published descriptions of the device's operation indicate that it produces time varying electrical output that in case of movement across terrain can be used to locate subsurface anomalies. While very few examples of device's output have been published, earlier descriptions of the device's operation show increased output activity over faults, fractures and oil fields[3] while current NXT Energy literature indicates the opposite.[4]

Neither a description of this technology or an example of its output can be found in any peer reviewed geophysical publication. It is recommended that this technology be judged by the criteria described here.[5]

There have since been claims by John Kenneth Hutchison that he was one of the original inventors of this technology in the late 1980s. There are recent YouTube videos Hutchison has created describing the origin of this device, and a document on his website that does show his involvement in court proceedings against the two persons claiming that they invented this device.[6]

Commercial use[edit]

The first commercial use of SFD was in a joint venture between directors of Owl Industries and a VSE-listed company, Grand America Minerals (GDM), between 1993 and 1994. A number of wells were drilled with mixed results. As a result of a dispute between various parties involved in that joint venture, GDM was delisted and from that point development of SFD followed at least two separate paths.

Over the years Pinnacle Oil used the technology in joint drilling programs with various industry partners including Calpine Canada, Renaissance Energy Ltd. and Encal Energy Ltd.[7][8][9] Independently from Pinnacle Oil, in 2001 Spectrum Oil of Bakersfield, CA used the SFD technology in its exploration program.[10] More recently, multiple surveys have been performed in South America, most notably by Pacific Rubiales Energy in Colombia who acquired "1,771 km of stress field detector" data in 2009.[11] Additional SFD surveys continued in Colombia, Argentina, and Guatemala in early 2012.[12]