SPE Technology Updates

Industry and Society news grouped by SPE technical discipline


Big Data – Today’s O&G Challenge

“Big data combined with smart people and smart software is proving to be very powerful.”  (Jeff Spath, 2014 SPE President; JPT January 2014)

What is “big data”?  The term “big data” refers to more than simply a large volume of different types of data, both structured and unstructured, with varying degrees of accuracy. It also includes a suite of applications providing solutions and analysis — a data-­centric method adept at uncovering otherwise invisible patterns and connections by linking disparate data types.

Large volumes of data are nothing new to the oil and gas industry.  With the continued world-wide expansion of Intelligent Digital Oilfield (DOF) assets and projects, coupled with the exponential growth in the volume and complexity of acquired data, the industry needs to rapidly adapt to a new generation of technology and processes.

Find out more about Big Data in the following SPE resources:

Management: Using Big Data Analysis Tools To Understand Bad Hole Sections on the UK Continental Shelf
Joe Johnston, CGG, and Aurelien Guichard, Teradata (Journal of Petroleum Technology, October 2015).

Next Generation of Smart Reservoir Management:  The Eminent Role of Big Data Analytics, SPE Forum Series, 18-21 January 2016, Dubai, UAE.

Transforming E&P Applications through Big Data Analytics, SPE On-Demand Web Event, 9 July 2015.

Petroleum Data Driven Analytics Technical Section


IOGP Outstanding Young Professional Award

SPE and the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP) have collaborated to launch the IOGP Outstanding Young Professional Award. The award will recognize achievements of E&P professionals who have fewer than 10 years of experience and have demonstrated outstanding talent, dedication, and leadership in at least one aspect of health, safety, security, the environment, and social responsibility.

To nominate someone, you must be an SPE member and have more than 10 years of experience. Nominations are open to all young professionals, both SPE members and non-members, who have fewer than 10 years of experience. Nominees should:

  • Be well-respected and in good standing within the community
  • Serve as a role model for other young professionals
  • Demonstrate noteworthy professional and personal achievement
  • Demonstrate commitment to excellence and proven leadership
  • Exhibit expertise, passion, and the ability to inspire others

Nominators should include the nominee’s CV and complete the online application form here. The nomination deadline is 4 November 2015.

Five finalists will be selected by 1 December 2015. Each finalist will then be asked to submit a short video presentation in the style of a TED talk (no longer than 5 minutes and 1GB) that addresses the issue, “How innovation in HSSE-SR can make the oil and gas industry more sustainable and more acceptable to the wider world.” Creativity is encouraged in the making of the videos. All videos will be due by midnight on 8 January 2016, and the award finalist will be notified 1 February 2016.

Learn more about the IOGP Outstanding Young Professional Award.



Investigation of Combined Real-Gas Nanoflow Mechanisms and Geomechanical Effects in Shale-Gas Formations

Permeability is one of the most fundamental reservoir-rock properties required for modeling hydrocarbon production.  However, the ultrafine pore structure of shale-gas reservoirs (pore-throat radii in the range of 1 -200 nm) cause the violation of the basic assumptions behind Darcy’s law.  Depending on a combination of pressure-temperature conditions, pore structure and gas properties, non-Darcy flow mechanisms such as Knudsen diffusion, and/or gas-slippage effects will affect the matrix apparent permeability.  Additionally, formation compaction and the release of the adsorption gas layer will affect the matrix apparent permeability during reservoir depletion.

The authors of this paper propose a unified matrix apparent-permeability model for shale-gas formations, which unifies non-Darcy flow / gas-slippage mechanisms, adsorption gas layer release, and geomechanical effects into a coherent global model, as shown below.


Mechanisms that alter shale-matrix apparent permeability during production

The fully coupled unconventional reservoir simulator developed in this study provides a comprehensive tool to investigate the combined real-gas nanoflow mechanisms and rock deformation effects on the matrix apparent-permeability, as well as the long-term productivity of hydraulically fractured shale-gas formations.

Conclusions from this research work are:

  • Matrix apparent permeability in a shale formation is not only determined by the non-Darcy flow / gas-slippage behavior but also by the intrinsic permeability within the nanopore structure.
  • Shale-matrix permeability derived from core samples at laboratory conditions needs to be correlated to reservoir conditions cautiously due to the extreme sensitivity of factors to the pore radius.
  • While geomechanical effects (formation compaction) can temporarily dominate the matrix apparent-permeability evolution during the early-production stages, these will be offset by non-Darcy flow / gas-slippage behavior and gas-desorption effects and matrix apparent-permeability will start to increase due to pressure depletion.
  • Impaired productivity in fractured shale formations during depletion is most-likely caused by reduction in fracture conductivity, rather than reduction in matrix permeability.
  • The gradual release of the molecular adsorption layer has a significant impact on the matrix apparent-permeability evolution for small pore radii.
  • Matrix apparent-permeability evolution during production can make a difference in well performance and long-term shale-gas production – even with the presence of a conductive natural-fracture network.

This summary, written by Special Projects Manager Nancy Musick, contains highlights of the following paper:  Wang, H. Y. and Marongiu-Porocu, M. 2015. Impact of Shale-Gas Apparent Permeability on Production: Combined Effects of Non-Darcy Flow / Gas Slippage, Desorption, and Geomechanics.  SPE Res Eval & Eng.  SPE-173196-PA (in press; posted 7 October 2015).


Inspire the Development of New Technology

What is an SPE Forum?

SPE Forums are unique, by-invitation-only SPE events that bring together top technologists, innovators, and managers to address a specific industry challenge. Participation in a forum builds a professional network that will enhance a career for a lifetime.  Participants are encouraged to come prepared to contribute their experience and knowledge, rather than be spectators or students.

The objective is to create a collaborative, idea-generating arena that stimulates new ideas and innovation about future challenges facing the E&P industry.

Who should participate?

  • Experienced professionals who want to exchange ideas with others in your area of technical expertise. Forums offer an exclusive opportunity to interact with innovators, seasoned professionals, and leading technologists.
  • Young professionals with relevant experience and knowledge of the forum topic. Forums are a window on the future that belongs to the next generation of professionals.

Application Information

Participants at SPE Forums are selected by the Forum Steering Committee based on the ability to contribute to the discussion of the topic.  Attendance is limited to maximize each person’s opportunity to contribute.  For more details:  SPE Forums

Flow Assurance Technical Section

SPE Flow Assurance Technical Section Presents: Multiphase Flow Conditioning-Industry Gaps

Presenter: Carlos Avila, Senior Facilities Engineer for Advanced Production Systems, Chevron

When: Thursday, 19 November from 1100 to 1300 hours Central Time
Where: Norris Conference Center, CityCentre, 816 Town and Country Blvd., Suite 210, Houston, Texas 

Registration Fee:
SPE Member-USD 40
Nonmember-USD 50 

Program Agenda:
1100-1130 Registration and Networking
1130-1300 Lunch
1145-1200 Technical Section Updates
1200-1300 Presentation and Q&A

Register today!


SPE Supports University Faculty

SPE Supports University Faculty.

SPE sponsors Faculty Enhancement Travel Grants that provide financial support for university faculty to attend SPE conferences, workshops, and forums.

Selected faculty may use the funds for event registration fees, and travel costs.

Learn more and apply today.
The application deadline is 15 November.