As is often said, all of the easy reserves already have been produced. Long gone are the days when low-risk, low-cost wells were drilled, completed, and put on production for a quick payout. Today, to extract value from complex reservoirs with ever-increasing cost and risk, using innovative techniques and new ideas is the name of the game. Seamless, multidiscipline work flows and imbedded integrated teams continue to present significant opportunities within the industry and will for many years to come.
Innovation is the life-blood of any high-tech industry, and the operators are the primary beneficiaries of its application. If we do not take advantage of opportunities such as those currently presented, to focus liberated resources onto developing and qualifying the innovations needed for enabling the next set of challenges to be overcome, then we will have only our collective selves to blame.
Energized fluids—with the success of hydraulic fracturing in the US shale-gas plays, why are more operating companies not using energized fluids to minimize the use of water, decrease the amount of proppant required, and (theoretically) enhance long-term productivity? The perception that using energized fluids is more expensive to achieve the same goal could be one hurdle keeping operators from using them. Nonetheless, let us take a step back and think of some of the more obvious, readily understood benefits: minimizing the use of water and decreasing the amount of proppant.
In order to avoid some of the detrimental effects of formation damage, a key aspect is laboratory testing of representative core material under representative downhole conditions. One technique that has been applied recently to identify and quantify potential formation damage is that of microcomputed tomography (CT). The combination of micro-CT with techniques previously used for formation-damage analysis is providing new understandings in the interaction of drilling and completion fluids with core material.