ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., April 12 -- A new technique developed by researchers at Sandia National Laboratories using an inexpensive disposable fiber optics telemetry system to relay real-time information about the drilling process is capturing oil and gas industry attention. "We have come up with a unique system using throwaway fiber optics that relays information of what is going on at the end of the drill string as it is happening," said David Holcomb, a Sandia researcher who devised the technique. "Information is instantaneously sent to the surface about temperatures, pressure, chemistry and rock formation -- all obtained without stopping the drilling operation." Holcomb conceived the idea of a disposable cable about eight years ago at an oil and gas industry meeting. People there indicated the need for immediate access to information about the drilling process and the formations being drilled. They wanted to obtain data without halting the drilling operation and have it be transmitted to the surface immediately at a rate high enough to support video systems. "Traditionally to gather this type of information, drilling would have to be stopped so that instrumentation could be lowered into the drill hole," Holcomb says. "Ceasing the drilling process is extremely expensive - as much as $100,000 to $200,000 a day for off shore drilling. A better way was needed."