SPE logo

Back to Basics Approach to R&D
to Address Current Oil & Gas Industry Challenges

1 – 3 December 2013

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Technical Agenda

Monday, 2 December, 0830–1000

Session 1: Introduction/Opening/Keynote Address

The opening session will provide insights into the increasing relevance of R&D for the E&P industry. Industry executives will outline their views on the value proposition for R&D and the benefits it gives as the resource base of hydrocarbons becomes more difficult to extract and at the same time, the desire to minimise environmental impact strengthens.


Session 2: "Back to Basics" Approach

R&D will be a major force for increasing the supply of oil and gas. The demand for energy is increasing and to secure future supplies of oil and gas, it is an essential to invest in R&D. NOCs, IOCs, service companies and academia are all very important players in ever evolving R&D strategies and activities. Both collaborative and independent efforts are important to address the major challenges facing the industry. NOCs increasingly hold most of the world’s conventional oil reserves and IOCs are dealing increasingly with more challenging unconventional resources to produce hydrocarbons. Both are united in the need to invest in R&D. The industry lacks sufficient technical professionals and the role of the university will not only be to conduct fundamental research but also to increase the supply of trained personnel. The balance between new and existing industry drivers, fundamental and applied research and vocational training forms the backdrop for identifying a "back to basics" approach to R&D. Experts from NOCs, IOCs, Research Companies, Service Companies and Universities need to discuss the challenges facing the industry, identify needs and opportunities for new R&D approaches, and to suggest the best way to execute the R&D plans.

In this session, the following topics will be discussed:

  • IOC vs. NOC vs. service company vs. research companies vs. academic roles in R&D
  • University/industry/scientific community collaboration views
  • Scientific techniques and case histories
  • Key directions


Session 3: Hydrocarbon Containment

A number of recent developments and events have focused attention, both public and industry, on issues and challenges related to hydrocarbon containment in the subsurface, in subsea infrastructure and in surface facilities. What do we as an industry need to do to prevent unintended hydrocarbon releases into the environment throughout a field's lifetime, from its initial appraisal and development, through production to abandonment and beyond? 

This session will address specific technical challenges for hydrocarbon containment in the subsurface beneath reservoir caprocks, within wellbores (during well construction, production and post-abandonment) and in surface production facilities. These challenges often arise from increasingly demanding field development settings (e.g. deepwater, mature brownfield, HPHT, unconventional reservoirs, contaminated gas) or result from some aspect of the production methodology (e.g. thermal or chemical EOR, hydraulic fracturing, complex subsea infrastructure, brownfield modifications to production facilities). They span a broad range of engineering disciplines: drilling, completion, production, facilities and petroleum engineering. The session will focus on identifying the R&D needed to meet and overcome some of these challenges, in diverse areas such as geomechanics, prediction of pore pressure and fracture pressure, rock physics, fracture propagation modelling, advanced materials, brownfield asset integrity and flow assurance.


Session 4: Advanced Production Technologies

Parallel to the development of more sophisticated well designs aimed at maximising reservoir contact, well completion and down-hole production technologies have also improved with the goals of maximising oil recovery while maintaining the highest level of operational efficiency. Advanced production technologies are being deployed that provide uniform drawdown along horizontal wellbores, minimise coning and cresting, improve water conformance and sweep efficiency, and ensure wellbore stability.  The challenge is to develop the modelling, monitoring and control capabilities that will enable completions to respond to production changes throughout the lifetime of the field. 

This session will discuss the use of advanced production technologies including passive, adaptive and active inflow control devices for water conformance and sweep efficiency; formation damage, removal and by-pass; and sand control technologies to maximise well productivity. In addition, this session will discuss the R&D that is needed to monitor and control production from motherbores and laterals over the lifetime of the field.


Session 5: Improved Hydrocarbon Recovery

Most of the oil and gas fields worldwide are maturing and entering into decline phase of production and with current development strategies, are poised for modest oil recovery factor of around 35–36%. One of the greatest challenges in petroleum and reservoir engineering is how to increase the overall recovery efficiency. Industry is striving to improve the recovery from existing discovered and producing fields through various IOR/EOR techniques. It is recognised that with further improvement in recovery techniques, the size of prize would be substantial as nearly two-thirds of the hydrocarbons in conventional reservoirs around the world is left behind. Many success stories of EOR applications are available in onshore fields whereas such applications are relatively low in offshore environment due to operational challenge, scale of investment and economics. However, discussion on the applications of EOR in the offshore environment is now gaining momentum as a viable development option for improving the recovery.

This session will discuss the current state of the art in the areas of various EOR processes, their on-going challenges, breakthroughs of new tools and techniques, limitation of various processes, lessons learnt and possible mitigations of major GAPS for the long term. It will also focus on the requirement of fundamental ingredients of subsurface and surface capabilities viz. reservoir characterisation, process mechanisms, cost issues, relevant laboratory and modelling studies, interpretation, environment friendly EOR/EGR field development planning, flood-front monitoring, wells and facilities management, risk and uncertainty management and synergy of processes, portfolio and people (3P’s) for making the improved hydrocarbon recovery a success.


Session 6: Unconventional Oil & Gas Resources

Due to the increased demand for energy, there has been a significant shift into "unconventional" hydrocarbon resources such as oil sands, shale oil and gas and coal bed methane. The development of these resources is complex, often expensive and labour intensive with high safety exposure. In addition, unconventional developments often have a large footprint with significant impact on the environment. This session will focus on the various types of unconventional plays and their "technology pull," i.e. what are the key issues to resolve to increase viability of unconventional plays. It will also explore "technology push," i.e. what is being done elsewhere that would make a step change to successful development of unconventional resources.


Session 7: R&D Management

R&D management is a crucial area of realising value from R&D. Indeed, research shows that it is not how much money that you spend on R&D, but how you manage your R&D that really matters in terms of value creation and time-to-market reduction. Given that we have seen a 100–200% rise in E&P R&D spending from oil companies and service companies alike in the last 10 years, as well as an ever increasing pressure to deliver results that meet the plethora of technical challenges across the industry, effective R&D management has never been more important. It ensures that R&D is linked to timely delivering value to the business, that the correct risk levels are adopted within companies' R&D portfolios, that R&D programmes are sufficiently innovative, as well as successfully managed and that R&D is effectively promoted for internal application.

This session will review case studies and interesting examples on R&D management in the E&P industry. The following topics will be discussed:

  • R&D evolution from concept to implementation
  • Evaluating future trends and emerging technologies
  • Innovation and risk
  • Value creation
  • Role of IP & its management
  • Technology venture capital


Session 8: Closing Session—"Looking Ahead"

The closing session will summarise the main findings of the workshop as well as highlight the challenges introduced by the invited speakers. This facilitated session will also address how the workshop can influence a larger audience through possible articles in the Journal of Petroleum Technology (JPT) and sharing experiences in the SPE R&D Technical Section.