While on my extensive travels, I get quite a bit of time to read. Over the
last two months, I read two interesting books on very different subjects, but
with the same underlying theme. The first, Lee Smolin’s book on The Trouble
With Physics, deals with funding, education, and publication difficulties
in the physics community (particularly in North America). His contention is
that string theorists have monopolized government funding, tenure positions,
and journal publications even though string theory has not been able to prove
or predict anything after three decades of research. The second book, Bones:
Discovering the First Americans by Elaine Dewar, deals with the
Clovis-first orthodoxy in archeology/anthropology by presenting a thesis that
the American archeology community does not readily sanction any research or
publications that suggest a hominid arrival into the Americas much earlier than
the end of the last ice age, even though there are several sites in South
America and elsewhere that appear to be too early to support the Clovis-first
I am not enough of an expert on either of these topics to have an opinion on
their worthiness, but it does bring up an important set of questions for all of
us who work in research and deal with issues of funding, tenure, education,
publication, and policy. How do we deal with ideas that may run counter to the
current “dogma”? If I get a paper to review that presents a theory counter to
what the industry has done for the last 10 years, how should I approach it? I
suspect that many, if not most, of us would consider rejecting it immediately
for being incorrect or inappropriate. However, what if the paper was right, or
at least partially right and heading in a new and potentially-advantageous
I would not want to be remembered as the guy who turned down tenure for
Wegener over his continental drift (plate tectonics) theory that everyone
condemned at the time. He turned out to be right (except in the mechanism), and
he is only one of many similar examples of people who were ridiculed, denied
tenure, or rejected for publication in attempts to offer new theories that we
now accept as truth.
People have obviously struggled with this problem for longer than we have
been around, so there are no easy solutions. I think the first thing we have to
do is to respect the current dogma. Since it has been around for a while and
has obviously passed some tests for reasonableness, I would guess that most of
the time it is going to be correct. Then, we need to look at the competing
theory (or lab/field data) and determine if the ideas are logical and self
consistent. If it is rational, then we need to decide if any supporting data
are appropriate and have not been cherry picked (only use data that support the
theory). If these conditions are met, then we probably should publish it since
our job is the dissemination of valid ideas and data and not the support of any
orthodoxy. However, if there are no supporting data, then the task is
difficult. After all, we are dealing with processes that often occur in
reservoirs or tubulars several kilometers underground and cannot easily be
observed or measured; therefore supporting information of any kind is often
very indirect. I hope I do not need to deal with many of these types of papers,
but we will do our best to get it right. We don’t want to dampen the flow of
valid new ideas.
The first paper in this issue is Implementation of a Total-System
Production Optimization Model in a Complex Gas-Lifted Offshore Operation.
It discusses the formulation of a network model of wells, pipelines, and
compressors to optimize gas-lift operations in offshore Dubai oil fields using
a sequential linear programming solver.
Effective Gas-Shut Off Treatments in a Fractured Carbonate Field in
Oman is a field study of the use of particle gel and foam cement for gas
shutoff in both horizontal and vertical wells undergoing a
Gas-Oil-Gravity-Drainage recovery process.
Use of Wavelet Transform in Pressure-Data Treatment considers the
application of wavelet transforms on downhole pressure data from permanent
gauges to denoise and/or find a fundamental scale that is best suited for
further interpretation and analysis.
Acidizing is the topic of the next two papers. In Stimulation of
High-Temperature Sandstone Formations From West Africa With Chelating
Agent-Based Fluids, the results of both slurry-reactor and linear-coreflood
laboratory tests on sandstones are used to assess the effectiveness of chelant
fluids for stimulation of high temperature reservoirs in West Africa. Both
laboratory and simulation studies were performed in Effect of Reservoir
Mineralogy and Texture on Acid Response in Heterogeneous Sandstones to
study acid behavior in turbidite reservoirs.
The next three papers deal with various aspects of oilfield chemistry. An
Investigation of Two Phase Oil/Water Paraffin Deposition is a laboratory
study of the effects of water cut on paraffin deposition for both freshwater
and brine. In Analysis of the Mechanism of Transport and Retention on
Nonaqueous–Scale-Inhibitor Treatments in Cores Using Novel Tracer
Techniques, the title says it all; three coreflood tests were described to
show how the tracer testing can provide additional quantitative information.
String Corrosion and String Protection During Constructing and Operating Gas
Storage Facility in Bedded Salt Deposit gives an assessment of corrosion
factors in these salt-cavern gas storage wells and concludes that the velocity
of the injection water, the amount of dissolved water, and the partial pressure
of CO2 are the main corrosive factors.
Rigless Tubing Repair Using Permanent and Retrievable Straddles on
the North Slope, Alaska is a study of 263 various applications of
electric-line-run packer systems for tubing patching, including diagnostics and
Artificial lift is covered in the following two papers. Auto, Natural, or
In-Situ Gas-Lift Systems Explained is an overview of these systems with
specific emphasis on the downhole valving requirements and modeling approaches.
Investigation of Gas Carryover With a Downward Liquid Flow is a flow
loop laboratory study of multiphase flow issues surrounding downhole pumps in
Mechanistic/Probabilistic Modeling of Slug Initiation in a Lower Elbow of
a Hilly-Terrain Pipeline contains both theoretical modeling and some
experimental data in a study of pipeline flow and concludes that critical
liquid level is an appropriate initiation criterion for slug flow.
Finally, Experience in the AA-LDHI Usage for a Deepwater Gulf of Mexico
Dry-Tree Oil Well: Pushing the Technology Limit is a study of hydrate
issues during cold restarts and the development of a strategy to displace the
wellbore fluid below the mudline during extended shutdowns and then outrun the
water upon restart.
I would like to thank the authors for their contributions to this issue.