It would be difficult to overstate the importance of the Middle East in the world petroleum picture at the beginning of the 21st century. The site of some 65% of the world oil reserves, the Middle East is also home to some of the most challenging territory on earth for the acquisition of seismic and other geophysical data. Sabkhas, mountains, collapse features, sand dunes, jebels, and soft sand that can founder the largest balloon-tire equipment; these are only a hint at the issues acquisition crews face. The atmosphere, too, can be inhospitable—summer daytime temperatures above 120°F (50°C), winter nights well below freezing, sandstorms, and shamals.

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