What is the biggest complaint about SPEDC? It goes something like
this: “I submit my paper and I don’t hear from SPE for about 2 years. Why does
peer review take so long?” For academics, this is a very serious question as
their job depends on publication. It is important for the rest of us because we
need timely technical information to do our jobs well. To answer this question,
let’s examine the review process, identify the bottlenecks, and see what we can
do to improve it.
First, the paper must be submitted for review. While there are some
unsolicited papers, the majority of papers come from SPE conferences. Most
papers come from the SPE/IADC Drilling Conference, with many more from the SPE
Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition and the Offshore Technology
Conference. For example, this year there were 134 papers submitted to the
drilling conference alone.
The first hurdle to clear in the new peer review process is that in the
submission process for conferences, there is a check box that requests peer
review for the paper. Although this check box is optional, some people thought
it was mandatory, indicating that it is too easy to ask for peer review.
Therefore, SPE is working to change this. For example, if you have submitted a
paper for a conference recently, you have received a request from SPE to
justify why you feel your paper should be peer reviewed. If you are not
sufficiently interested to write a few paragraphs on the value of your paper,
this is one paper less to overload the review process.
The second hurdle is paper triage. In this process, we try to identify
papers for initial decline. If you receive an initial decline, all is not lost,
because sometimes we make mistakes. If you think your paper has value, I urge
you to appeal the decision. At this point, your paper goes into the actual
review process. Your paper is assigned to a review chair, who then assigns it
to at least two reviewers. Even though our goal for reviewers to return the
paper is 2 months, it often takes longer. Sometimes the process can take
several months as we chase unresponsive reviewers and then, if unsuccessful,
replacement reviewers are assigned, which starts the process all over. Also, if
things slow because of some controversy about the paper, I may request
additional reviews. To expedite the processes, we have added 12 new technical
editors as of November 2007 and we have shortened the review time from 60 to 30
days. Once the review chair makes his recommendation, it is sent to the
Executive Editor, who must make a final decision. I will try to make a final
decision in a timely manner.
Once the paper gets final approval, it must be production edited before
publication. This part of the process is perhaps the biggest bottleneck of all.
SPE is currently working hard to expand its team of production editors as their
resources are limited. Finally, the paper is published in the journal, along
with about eight other papers.
While our industry is struggling with “The Big Crew Change," the
SPEDC Journal is struggling with “The Big Backlog." With so many
papers coming in the door, and so few papers actually reaching the journal,
there is a large backup of papers in the middle. There are several things we
are doing to help solve this problem. In my opinion, the most serious problem
is that many of the papers have been in the system for more than 2 years. To
solve this problem, I have appointed John Thorogood as deputy editor to
expedite review decisions for these papers. The second goal is to publish more
papers per issue. This requires more editing resource, and SPE is going to get
that resource. The next issue of the journal will have many more papers. We are
going to do more triage, so you may have to appeal your decision more often. If
you have passion about your paper, writing an appeal will not be too onerous.
If you don’t care to appeal, that’s one fewer paper in the backlog. Finally, we
are soliciting more reviewers. WE NEED YOU! VOLUNTEER!
In this issue, you will find the following drilling papers. First,
there's Prediction of Wellbore Position Accuracy When Surveyed With
Gyroscopic Tools. Knowledge of wellbore position is critical for many
reasons. Because we don’t have a downhole GPS, we must deduce the wellbore
position from survey data; therefore, the accuracy of this data is a primary
concern. This paper presents the latest model for the prediction of accuracy of
gyroscopic surveying tools on the basis of a previous error model developed for
magnetic MWD tools. The model is the product of the SPE Wellbore Positioning
Technical Section, and is intended to sufficiently apply to a broad range of
gyro systems and future developments in sensor design. Required reading if you
are in the wellbore surveying business. Dynamic Depth Correction To Reduce
Depth Uncertainty and Improve MWD/LWD Log Quality. This paper continues our
topic of improving estimates of wellbore prediction. The subject is an old
drillstring topic and drillstring stretch. The authors have determined that the
most important factors in drillstring stretch are string weight, friction, and
thermal expansion. They attack the first effects by use of a torque-drag
simulator, and have many comments on the proper application of this tool to the
string stretch problem. Thermal expansion is discussed in a more casual
fashion, but highlights the difficulty in determining drillstring temperatures
to an acceptable degree of accuracy for this calculation. Formation of
Underwater Cuttings Piles in Offshore Drilling. A 2D solids-settling model
has been proposed to simulate the formation of seafloor beds from discharged
drill cuttings. The beds are assumed to be always at incipient sliding, so the
geometry is defined by the angle of repose of the solids. It is assumed that
the ocean current transports the cuttings laterally, gravity causes the
cuttings to settle, and a distribution of cutting sizes and shapes determines
the cutting’s resistance to motion through the fluid. Jetting of Structural
Casing in Deepwater Environments: Job Design and Operational Practices.
Installation of the conductor doesn’t receive a lot of technical analysis, and
considering that the conductor is the foundation for the entire well, this
doesn’t seem justified. This paper reviews the state of the art, and makes a
good beginning at the analysis of structural casing installation in deepwater.
In addition to the analysis, we are given five case histories with lessons
Also in this issue are the following completion papers: New Technology
Improves Performance of Viscoelastic Surfactant Fluids. The use of
viscoelastic surfactant fluids is relatively new technology, first used in
gravel-pack completions in the mid 1980s and later in frac-packs in the mid
1990s. The improved technology discussed in this paper solves several problems.
The system works with high-density brines, the temperature range has been
extended from 200 to 300°F, fluid loss control has been improved with
nondamaging “filtercake”-like behavior, and an internal viscosity breaker
developed. All of this, and improved economics, too. Effective High-Density
Wellbore Cleaning Fluids: Brine-Based and Solids-Free. Step one in the
installation of a well completion is to clean the wellbore of drilling mud or
drill-in fluids. Conventional cleaning fluids are typically low-density, fresh
water, or sea water, and the low density creates a number of operational
problems. The solution proposed by this paper is a brine-based, solids-free,
high-density cleaning fluid. The authors present results from both laboratory
studies and four field test case histories. Polymer Reduction Leads to
Increased Success: A Comparative Study. Polymer is required to create
sufficient viscosity in frac fluids to open the fracture and place the
proppant. Unfortunately, this polymer also damages proppant-pack conductivity.
The obvious answer seems to be lower polymer loadings, but can lower polymer
loadings be used successfully? This study of over 200 wells in the western
Canadian sedimentary basin does a direct comparison of high and low polymer
loading, which shows the low loading to be both effective and cheaper.
World's First Gravel Packed Inflow Control Completion. Openhole
horizontal gravel packs have been used successfully in the Etame oil field,
offshore Gabon. The ET-6H well, however, was at risk of early water
breakthrough. The operator decided to use flow control devices in the well
completion to generate a more uniform inflow profile along the length of the
gravel pack to protect against early water breakthrough. However, the gravel
packing of inflow control devices had never been done before. This paper
describes the complete gravel pack operation, including inflow modeling, gravel
pack design, gravel pack installation, and post-job analysis. Zonal
Isolation Modeling and Measurements—Past Myths and Today's Realities. In
our industry, we do not often re-examine the fundamentals of our technology.
There are few things more fundamental than the cementing of wells, but what are
the mechanical properties, both short term and long term, of this cement
sheath? These properties are the fundamental input to any model of cement
failure used to predict well completion integrity. The authors have studied
these models to understand exactly what experimental results were needed for
valid predictions. The result is a well-defined consistent set of experimental
methods and data analysis techniques to determine the key cement
Finally, I would like to thank John Mason for his efforts as the previous
Executive Editor, and you for your continued support of SPEDC.
Robert Mitchell, firstname.lastname@example.org