At the 2011 SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition (ATCE) in Denver, a panel discussed the question, “10 Years of Digital Energy: What Have We Learned?” Those leading the discussion, mostly experts from major operators and service companies, centered on two main themes:
- Consolidating and Institutionalizing Successful Patterns
- Handling of Large, Disparate Data Sets
As an industry, we clearly have moved beyond the heady first years of the digital transformation, where the anticipation from many was that within a few years we would have a consolidated software solution spanning the scope of E&P workflows. While the stories told by such a panel naturally focused more on success cases (particularly for large greenfield applications), what emerges is evidence of large-scale benefits when a company invests in repeating successful patterns at its scale of operation—this is found to be true for both operators and service companies. The clearest examples of such success were on the fundamental aspects of data quality, exception- based surveillance, standardization of human workflows, and large-scale applications of focused software solutions, often having required an investment cycle of at least 5 years. Focusing on the scaling of fundamental aspects to broad application provided significant return while managing risk, with the result of sustaining those programs that delivered benefits. If the human workflow failed to rely on any new technology deployment, any gains found in the first year or two following the deployment were not sustained. So, a simple, “fast follower” approach is unlikely to be successful, unless the follower can adapt the leader’s success to their own culture and processes well.
Of course, the challenges are becoming more complex. Scaling successes from large, greenfield applications (in which initiatives may be justified easily) to brownfields, “difficult oil and gas,” and IOR/EOR will require us to focus more on the “big- data” challenge and the efficient application of qualified data to improve reservoir management through better daily decisions and more-accurate forecasting. In many cases, the problem has moved from a lack of data to an inability to contextualize the available data quickly into a particular decision process. As a result, information relevant to a decision may be available to some extent within the organization, but not easily applied to the decision because it first must be found and qualified, often through an undocumented process, before it can be used.
Once organizations can depend on a service level for qualified data, they can begin to exploit the data by use of established patterns, such as those outlined by the ATCE panelists, and emerging patterns, as illustrated by the papers in this feature.
Read the paper synopses in the May 2012 issue of JPT.
John Hudson, SPE, Senior Production Engineer, Shell, has more than 25 years’ experience in multiphase-flow research, flow-assurance design of deepwater production systems, and development of model-based real-time operations- decision systems. Since joining Shell, he has held technical and managerial positions in Europe and North America, including leading a team that developed a model-based, cloud computing solution that was deployed globally to gas plants with a total production capacity in excess of 10 Bcf/D. Hudson currently provides production-engineering support for the development of a next-generation simulator. He holds a PhD degree in chemical engineering from the University of Illinois. Hudson serves on the JPT Editorial Committee.
No word defines deepwater projects better than “innovation,” and on 25 February 2012, one of the most innovative field-development projects came on stream: Cas- cade and Chinook (C&C) in the US Gulf of Mexico (GOM). One well is producing from Cascade to the first floating production, storage, and offloading (FPSO) vessel in the US GOM. The project brings several firsts and innovations that will be available to the entire oil industry in the near future. I would like to call attention to some of those innovations. First, the FPSO uses a detachable buoy that allows early installation of the buoy and all umbilicals before arrival of the FPSO. This feature will allow the FPSO to disconnect and sail away from hurricanes, avoiding damages to the facilities. C&C also presents the first freestanding riser in the US GOM. Subsea boosting will increase production and reduce workover costs. These examples are just a few that show inno- vation applied to a deepwater development. I believe strongly that C&C will lead the way for future development of Lower Tertiary plays in the GOM.
I selected one paper for this feature that describes the planning, logistics, and technology of the two largest deepwater high-pressure perforation jobs executed suc- cessfully in the GOM; certainly, this provides very interesting reading if your company is in the Tertiary play or is planning to be.
Drilling management in deep water has always been a great challenge because of several constraints, including high cost; well engineering (exploratory wells); logistics (remote locations); health, safety, and environmental (local and international laws); licenses; and personnel management. One of the papers presents a very objective and clear explanation of the well-management process, describing the design methodolo- gy and the well-execution procedures used by Petrobras International in a remote and challenging area. This methodology can be applied to any well and could bring huge benefits for any drilling operation.
Are you lost in a “cloud” of drilling data? You are not the only one! Drilling-data management is one of the biggest challenges in our industry today. One of the feature papers presents solutions, gives examples, and shows the benefits of a correct use of drilling data.
Enjoy your reading.
Read the paper synopses in the May 2012 issue of JPT.
Jacques Braile Saliés, SPE, is the Drilling Manager of Queiroz
Galvão E&P. His 30-year career at Petrobras included various engineering and management positions in E&P: coordination of the Petrobras Technological Program on Ultradeepwater Exploitation Systems— PROCAP 3000, drilling manager for Petrobras America, and well operation manager for Petrobras International. Saliés holds a BS degree in mechanical engineering from the Military Institute of Engineering, Brazil, an MS degree in petroleum engineering from the Federal University of Ouro Petro, Brazil; and a PhD degree in petroleum engineering from the University of Tulsa. He has authored or coauthored several papers on drilling and subsea technology. Saliés served several terms on the SPE Board of Directors for the Brazil Section and serves on the JPT Editorial Committee.
Many reservoir engineers dislike the very idea of automatic history match- ing applied to real full-field studies. They believe there is no artificial substitute for experienced reasoning, deep understanding of the reservoir mechanisms, and atten- tion to real-life practical aspects of the problem. Some use terms such as art and intu- ition. For them, even if computers long ago learned to play chess, computers will never be able to perform real-case history matching on their own or at least they are still too far from this achievement. Very often, during technical sessions, immediately fol- lowing an advanced mathematical presentation on history matching, someone in the audience makes his or her point about the limits of automatic approaches. To avoid disputes, experienced speakers prefer less pretentious expressions such as assisted or semiautomatic history matching.
Indeed, history matching can be seen as a two-step iterative process, normal- ly requiring many cycles to be completed. Broadly speaking, the first step is about analysis and setting the problem parameters, and the second step is about search- ing for and computing solutions. We start our discussion with the second part, which has a more obvious algorithmic nature. There has being a great deal of research and progress in this area. The ensemble Kalman filter is dominating the scene, but gradi- ent-based methods and global-optimization stochastic methods are attracting mer- ited attention. Most published contributions come from universities, and, typical- ly, papers include examples to demonstrate successful algorithm application. These examples can be simple synthetic or somewhat-more-realistic cases, but the discus- sion is naturally focused on the solution method and not on the entire problem as found in the field.
The first part of the problem is less mathematized, for now, and involves essen- tial tasks such as to be clear about the practical purposes and requirements in the par- ticular context; to have a full understanding of the quality of the reservoir model and the production data; to design or redesign well-justified objective functions; to set adequate parameterization, considering the main uncertainties and their effect on the simulation results; to represent properly and sample the uncertainty space; and to evaluate results from the previous steps of the history-matching process judiciously. Unfortunately, the strategies used to consider this part of the problem are much less discussed and documented. In fact, many of these tasks are open to further formal- ization and, ultimately, can be automated also. We definitely need more papers illu- minating these other aspects of the reservoir-engineering problem, instead of relying on intuition.
Read the paper synopses in the April 2012 issue of JPT.
Régis Kruel Romeu, SPE, is a Senior Consultant at Petrobras Research Center (CENPES) in Rio de Janeiro. With 31 years’ experience in petroleum engineering, he has worked mostly in reservoir- characterization and -simulation applied research. Romeu’s main activities and areas of interest are heterogeneities representation, scale up, history matching and optimization, integrated reservoir studies, coordination of research projects, relationship with Brazilian universities, and reservoir studies related to Brazilian presalt fields. He holds a BS degree in civil engineering from Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil; an MS degree in petroleum engineering from Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto, Brazil; and a PhD degree in quantitative geosciences from the Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris. Romeu has served as Editor for SPE Res Eval & Eng and serves on the JPT Editorial Committee.
Exciting operations are ongoing on the shallow-water US offshore continen- tal shelf (OCS) that will influence the entire high-pressure/high-temperature (HP/HT) community going forward. McMoran and their operating partners are actively drill- ing, evaluating, testing, and bringing to production several deep HP/HT plays. These prospects are named in the Treasure Island theme with identities such as Davy Jones, Blackbeard, and Lafitte. The Davy Jones 1 is in the completion phase, incorporating multiple Eocene Wilcox sands, and it represents the first 25,000-psi completion of its kind in the world. The Davy Jones 2 encountered confirmed pay and is progressing well. The original Blackbeard well was taken to 32,997-ft total depth, and operations on Blackbeard East have been permitted to 34,000 ft. As with Davy Jones, these wells represent substantial extensions to or step changes in current HP/HT technologies.
To address the substantial engineering challenges associated with these wells, the operator formed a significant project team and is drawing on the expertise of several vendors in a collaborative manner to make the many advances necessary in HP/HT drilling and completion procedures and in production equipment and proce- dures. Downhole tools have been upgraded to 30,000 psi and 500°F. It will take con- siderable effort to catalog all of the “industry firsts” and “Serial-Number 1s” associat- ed with these ongoing operations. Both Davy Jones wells are expected to be flow tested and put on production later this year.
HP/HT continues to be of international interest, with global operations ongoing from the North Sea, to Latin America, to the Middle East, and of course in the “ring- of-fire” regions in Southeast Asia. Operators, service companies, equipment suppli- ers, drilling contractors, and other involved parties share a common goal of address- ing the many HP/HT challenges successfully and in a safe and efficient manner. These goals create a need to exchange information effectively, openly share lessons learned, and embrace a collaborative spirit that respects the competitive nature of business while valuing the shared interest that we all have in safe and reliable operations. Thus, the industry looks forward to learning more from the success of these HP/HT step changes in the US OCS ventures and from advances in other HP/HT operations around the globe.
Read the paper synopses in the April 2012 issue of JPT.
Mike Payne, SPE, is a Senior Advisor in BP’s Exploration and Production Technology group. He has 29 years’ experience including drilling operations, computing technology, and consulting. Payne holds BS and PhD degrees in mechanical engineering from Rice University, an MS degree in petroleum engineering from the University of Houston, and an Executive Business Education degree from the University of Chicago. He has extensive industry publications and has held key leadership positions with the American Petroleum Institute and the International Organization for Standardization. Payne has been an SPE Distinguished Lecturer and received the SPE International Drilling Engineering Award in 2000. He has chaired or cochaired several SPE Advanced Technology Workshops and serves on the JPT Editorial Committee.
In 2010, natural-gas reserves were approximately equivalent to 75% of the oil reserves (including oil sands). Unconventional gas sources continue to make up an increasingly important part of the natural-gas supply, particularly shale gas and coal- bed methane (CBM), which contribute approximately 40% to US natural-gas reserves.
Generally, very remote offshore gas reserves cannot be exploited economically by use of fixed subsea pipelines that tend to link the field with a specific geographical market. Operators can maximize market reach through natural-gas liquefaction and improved marine liquefied-natural-gas (LNG) tankers. For ultimate flexibility, four floating LNG-production facilities are predicted to come on stream within this decade.
Commercial exploitation of the known massive hydrate reserves probably is some time off; however, the chemistry research involved in hydrate management for current natural-gas production may accelerate progress in that area. Hydraulic-water reuse is key to the future of the CBM and shale-gas industries.
There are many opportunities to learn about and share natural-gas technologies. An SPE workshop, “Reducing Environmental Impact of Unconventional Resources Development,” will take place in San Antonio, Texas, 23–25 April 2012. A joint SPE/ SEG workshop, “Injection Induced Seismicity,” will be held in Broomfield, Colora- do, 12–14 September 2012. There will be an SPE “Tight Gas” workshop in Adelaide, Australia, 10–13 June 2012, and the SPE Unconventional Reservoir Technical Interest Group (TIG) provides a useful information exchange, as does the Gas Technology TIG. The 2013 SPE Unconventional Gas Conference and Exhibition will be held in Muscat, Oman, 28–30 January. The 2013 SPE International Symposium on Oilfield Chemis- try to be held in The Woodlands, Texas, 9–13 April, includes topics on gas-processing chemical applications.
Acid-gas (CO2 and H2S) removal from natural gas and sequestration/recovery/ disposal technologies are very important in exploitation of poorer-quality gas finds. Much work continues in this area, and very large acid-gas-removal units are in opera- tion or are planned for the Arabian Gulf region.
The future of natural-gas processing and handling has never looked better.
Read the paper synopses in the April 2012 issue of JPT.
George Hobbs, SPE, is Director, Strategic Chemistry Pty. Ltd., a production consulting group. Previously, he was with Nalco/Exxon, Exxon Chemical Energy Chemicals, NL Treating Chemicals, Baroid, British Gas, Kemira Oy, and Blue Circle Cement. Hobbs has 34 years’ experience in solving oil and gas and geothermal drilling and production problems in Europe, the USA, North Africa, the Middle East, the Far East, and Australasia. He studied at the University of Glasgow, Brunel University, and the University of Adelaide, earning a BS degree in applied chemistry and a Graduate Diploma in business. Hobbs is past Chairperson of the SPE Gas Technology TIG and served on the SPE TIG Advisory Committee. He serves on the SPE Production and Operations Advisory Committee and the JPT Editorial Committee. Hobbs is a Certified Corrosion Specialist and Chemical Treatment Specialist.
Using data as the main building block of models is the new paradigm in science and technology. A new Technical Section and Technical Interest Group (TIG) has been formed to foster the application of data-driven modeling, data mining and predictive analytics research, development and practices in upstream oil and gas.
Join online communities of SPE members to:
- Develop a strategy and plan to promote the use of artificial intelligence, supervised and unsupervised learning, and other techniques in field management as a complementary approach to traditional upstream workflows.
- Develop and sustain a community of practice for sharing ideas and promoting the practice and application of artificial intelligence and petroleum analytics in upstream business.
- Promote establishment of a new discipline, including curricula and training, to combine data mining and oilfield technologies.
- Focus on promoting technology development and deployment to address key risks and opportunities in upstream oil and gas.
[Download the Challenges in Reusing Produced Water white paper.]
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. Water production estimates are in the order of 250 million B/D in 2007, for a water-to-oil ratio around 3:1, and are expected to increase to more than 300 million B/D between 2010 and 2012. Increasingly, stringent environmental regulations require extensive treatment of produced water from oil and gas productions before discharge; hence the treatment and disposal of such volumes costs the industry annually more than USD 40 billion. Consequently, for oil and gas production wells located in water-scarce regions, limited freshwater resources in conjunction with the high treatment cost for produced water discharge makes beneficial reuse of produced water an attractive opportunity.
[Download the In-Situ Molecular Manipulation white paper.]
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. The conventional sources of hydrocarbon are steadily declining; however, the oil and gas industry has been successful in finding unconventional hydrocarbons, such as heavy oil and shale gas. There are distinct challenges in producing and processing the hydrocarbons from unconventional sources into usable end products. Reducing the footprint during the production of oil, refined products, and gas will benefit the industry by reducing the overall cost and improving the health, safety, and environmental impact.
Another source of energy is renewable sources, such as sun, wind, geothermal, biomass, plant seeds, and algae. Producing usable energy from these sources and making it available to the end user pose unique challenges and opportunities. Research to understand the molecular building blocks of organisms living in diverse sources could help optimize the production of usable energy from both fossil and renewable sources. The search for microorganisms should include diverse sources, ranging from hydrocarbon reservoir to the guts of insects such as termites. Research into the molecular structure of these organisms could pave the way for improving exploration, production, and processing of fossil fuels and also help to produce usable energy from renewable sources efficiently and cost-effectively.
[Download the Increasing Hydrocarbon Recovery Factors white paper.]
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. The worldwide production of crude oil could drop by nearly 40 million B/D by 2020 from existing projects, and an additional 25 million B/D of oil will need to be produced for the supply to keep pace with consumption. Scientific breakthroughs and technological innovations are needed, not only to secure supply of affordable hydrocarbons, but also to minimize the environmental impact of hydrocarbon recovery and utilization.
The lifecycle of an oilfield is typically characterized by three main stages: production buildup, plateau production, and declining production. Sustaining the required production levels over the duration of the lifecycle requires a good understanding of and the ability to control the recovery mechanisms involved. For primary recovery (i.e., natural depletion of reservoir pressure), the lifecycle is generally short and the recovery factor does not exceed 20% in most cases. For secondary recovery, relying on either natural or artificial water or gas injection, the incremental recovery ranges from 15 to 25%. Globally, the overall recovery factors for combined primary and secondary recovery range between 35 and 45%. Increasing the recovery factor of maturing waterflooding projects by 10 to 30% could contribute significantly to the much-needed energy supply. To accomplish this, operators and service companies need to find ways to maximize recovery while minimizing operational costs and environmental imprint.
This paper provides an overview of the options that oil and gas operators and service companies are considering as they look for solutions to the above needs and plan possible technology development scenarios. Emerging developments in such sciences as physics, chemistry, biotechnology, computing sciences, and nanotechnologies that are deemed capable of changing the hydrocarbon recovery game are highlighted.