Executive Editors of SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering alternate
writing the Executive Summary. This issue’s summary is by Birol Dindoruk.
This is my first column as co-Executive Editor of SPEREE. I would like to take
this opportunity to thank my colleague Russ Johns, his review team, and the
SPE staff for doing an excellent job in delivering a quality journal and for
their services to the permanent literature of reservoir engineering. Although
you will find detailed information about me at the end of some of my
publications, I would like to introduce myself in terms of where I work and my
voluntary service to SPE. I have been working for Shell US (Bellaire Research
Center) and now Shell Intl. Exploration & Production since 1997 as a research
reservoir engineer, and I also teach courses as an adjunct faculty member at
the U. of Houston. Before joining Shell E&P, I worked for the Amoco E&P
Research Center in Tulsa. I began my voluntary service to SPE as a Technical
Editor in 1994 and became a Review Chairman in 2002. During this time, I also
have done a number of reviews for other journals and on behalf of some of my
colleagues, and I’ve been involved in some of SPE’s program committees. In
general, I have a genuine interest in research and development as well as
technology applications. Maintaining this interest requires keeping myself
up-to-date as much as possible in my areas of concentration, and following the
SPE literature is an integral part of this.
During my term (2005–2007), I would like to follow in the tracks of my
predecessor in delivering a quality journal. This is something of which we
should all take ownership. In my opinion, a discipline exists only if it has a
“voice.” SPEREE is one of the most important voices of the reservoir
engineering discipline. Reservoir engineering is an interdisciplinary area,
and one of the core disciplines of the petroleum industry and the petroleum
engineering curriculum. We need to maintain and advance our discipline and
keep our voice loud and clear.
It is well known that the petroleum industry tends to be very volatile at
times, with difficult-to-predict ups and downs. Naturally occurring
hydrocarbons are commodities with prices that are determined in the
marketplace, leading to a positive (or negative) outlook and thus affecting
everyone in the industry. At the present time, we happen to be at the upswing
of the price/market cycle. The reason that I like to talk about this is that
it affects everyone’s workload, as well as the nature of the papers and R&D
activities. For example, we may get very busy and have to work more to taper
off those workload peaks; as a result, we may not have time to do reviews
and/or read the current literature (i.e., SPEREE). This poses challenges to
all of us, from editors to readers.
During the cycles of the industry, the R&D and technology application trends
also tend to change. For example, during the up cycles, we start seeing more
papers on enhanced oil, gas recovery, and unconventional recovery methods.
Therefore, many of us need to refresh our technical knowledge so that we can
read and understand the current literature if we are not directly involved in
related projects at that point in time. This may not be so easy to do,
especially if we have no pre-existing background in such areas. One of the
issues that we see nowadays is that as experienced people move away from these
projects, the retention of such technologies becomes more and more difficult,
leading to a gap in the education-experience continuum. Training younger
engineers under the cyclic industry environment while maintaining a healthy
work-life balance still remains a challenge for many of us. In short, talent
coupled with experience does not grow on trees or in software package buttons.
Grasping the technical fundamentals and getting to the bottom of the
technology, and eventually becoming an expert in a particular topic, happens
only by developing, applying, and studying the technology.
One of the things that I would like to see from the current Review Chairmen
and Technical Editors is a realistic assessment of the current and near-term
committee workload. If reviewers cannot handle their current review requests,
they should communicate this to the appropriate EE or RC, or to the SPE staff.
Please do your best—if a paper came your way, there must have been a good
reason. In the current Web-based system, it is very easy to reject (or accept)
a paper. If you have to say no to review requests because of your current
workload, it is okay. To me, saying “no” frequently may mean that a reviewer
should not be reviewing, however; if this is the case, I would ask those
editors to step down voluntarily and rejoin the committee at a later date,
when they have more time to spend on voluntary SPE work. I encourage the RCs
to take a lead role in evaluating the committee’s workload; this proposal is
not related to technical knowledge and should not be taken personally.
Furthermore, in the current Web-based system, having long lags in the review
process causes a visible accumulation of paper assignments when one logs in to
the SPE system. When a long list of papers appears on the screen, it is very
easy to feel overwhelmed, which leads to further deferment of the assignment
(assuming that more free time will be available in the future). I know from my
experience that that block of time hardly comes (and the size of the block of
time has to increase as time goes on). For example, I am writing this from
Oman. I thought that I would have had some time at the beginning of 2005 to
take care of many other personal things; well, I was wrong—I could not predict
all my “near-future” activities correctly. The bottom line is that I would
like to work with my team of RCs and TEs, as well as the SPE staff, in such a
way that no one feels overwhelmed.
If we want to advance our discipline technically, we want our technical voice
and progress to be heard through one of the most important journals of our
discipline. Therefore, we need to participate in our Society’s activities—as
readers, contributors, reviewers, etc.—even if we are very busy. Finally, I
thank the SPE staff, particularly Stacie Hughes, Jennifer Wegman, Mary Webb,
and Carole Young, for their continuous help and support.
Wishing everyone a happy 2005!