Grand Challenges Facing the E&P Industry

The E&P industry faces numerous challenges as it addresses growing energy demand, the need for sustainable operations, declining production from older reservoirs, and new resources in harder to reach and harsher environments. The SPE Research & Development Committee (now Research  Development Technical Section) identified five grand challenges for the industry and is developing white papers for each one that describe the challenge, the current state of R&D, and areas for further research.

Higher Resolution Subsurface Imaging (PDF)
It is hard to read road signs if you have poor eyesight, which is why driver’s licenses are issued with restrictions requiring that corrective lenses must be worn. Likewise, it is hard to find and exploit subsurface resources if you can’t clearly see your targets or monitor the movement of fluids in the reservoir.

Challenges in Reusing Produced Water
Produced water is an inextricable part of the hydrocarbon recovery processes, yet it is by far the largest volume waste stream associated with hydrocarbon recovery.

In-Situ Molecular Manipulation
Energy sources are vital to sustain and grow the world economy. As of today, the world mainly relies on fossil fuel as the source of energy for transportation, power generation, chemicals manufacturing, and other industrial applications.

Increasing Hydrocarbon Recovery Factors
Conventional and unconventional hydrocarbons are likely to remain the main component of the energy mix needed to meet the growing global energy demand in the next 50 years.

Carbon Capture and Sequestration
Briefly stated, carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) will help us to sustain many of the benefits of using hydrocarbons to generate energy as we move into a carbon-constrained world.