Category Archives: Director’s Notes

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Director’s Note: Lessons Learned from Bhopal

DIRECTOR’S NOTE:  In the early morning hours of 3 December 1984, a large amount of toxic methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas was released from a Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant, which swept over a large, densely populated area south of the plant.  Thousands of people were killed including some at the railway station 2 km away. 

I was an employee of Union Carbide Corp. (UCC), the US parent company of UCIL at the time of the accident.  There is a great deal that we will never know about the accident.  It is difficult to investigate a catastrophe of this magnitude.  Most investigations focused on the technical story.  We know that, although significant safeguards were designed into the plant to prevent an MIC release, or at least to minimize its impact, all of the safeguards were bypassed, out-of-service, or otherwise rendered ineffective. 

But there is a social story that is just as important.  Four social drivers form the backdrop to the tragedy:  (1) the appeal of socialism in India, (2) an extreme anti-expatriate legal system, (3) general national poverty with abject localized poverty near the plant, and (4) the lack of a safety culture.  All of these made it difficult to operate a plant of this sort in India at that time.

Financial factors were important as well; the plant was not making money.  UCIL had decided to permanently shut it down, thereby significantly affecting operator morale and exacerbating maintenance deficiencies.  The plant was in its last production run at the time of the accident, working off the last batch of MIC.

Much has changed in the process industries as a result of Bhopal including many things that we take for granted, such as hazard and operability analysis, management of change, permit to work, and dispersion modeling.  There is an important lesson that we have not learned – effective use of SOPs.  The oil and gas industry needs to catch up with the airline and space exploration industries to instill an effective safety culture and to make following SOPs an absolute priority. 

I am frequently struck by how little people know about this accident.   I think it is important to not only remember those killed and injured in the accident but also to resolve that nothing like it will ever happen again. 

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Welcome to New Technical Director: Drilling and Completions

Welcome to the SPE’s Drilling and Completions discipline page.  This is intended to be a portal to all SPE activities and events of interest to the drilling and completions community.

Technology transfer is at the core of SPE activities.  The SPE Drilling and Completion journal, now published online, provides access to quality assured technology through peer-reviewed technical papers.  The SPE publishes a wide range of drilling and completion related textbooks, monographs, primers, and reprints.  Each year there are many regional and global conferences, forums and workshops covering topics of relevance to drilling and completions.  Three technical sections—Drilling Systems Automation, Wellbore Integrity and Wellbore Positioning—exist to support members’ interests in those specific aspects of oilfield technology.  SPE Connect, its professional networks and drilling and completion online communities together allow SPE members to meet and to collaborate on technical matters and challenges.

Two recent innovations expanding the range of technology transfer activities are the webinar series and Petrowiki.  The webinars are a great way to hear industry experts talking about topics of current importance.  I’m proud that drilling and completions was the first discipline to be represented in Petrowiki.  Please use and contribute it to help it become the best possible resource for all drilling and completion related information and knowledge.

It’s my honour and privilege to serve as Technical Director for Drilling and Completions.  I believe it’s important that the SPE should provide the support practising drilling and completions professionals need to drill and to complete every well safely, efficiently, and with minimized environmental impact.  Through my career in the development and application of drilling technology I’ve benefitted greatly from many of things the SPE does for its members.  I’ve become increasingly aware of how much of that depends on its members volunteering their time and talents.  I encourage you to visit the Get Involved pages of SPE.org to learn more about how you can help your fellow members by contributing to SPE activities.

I’ve outlined here some of the SPE’s various drilling and completions related activities.  With the Drilling and Completions Advisory Committee, I’ll be working to expand these and to make them more relevant to today’s challenges.  Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you think there are additional activities SPE could be pursuing which would be of value to you in your professional life.

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Welcome to New Technical Director: Projects, Facilities, and Construction

Howard DuhonI am very honored to serve as your new Projects, Facilities, and Construction (PF&C) Technical Director. There has never been a more exciting time to be a facilities engineer. Our projects are technically and socially complex and this complexity makes them the most interesting projects on the planet.

When I first joined SPE about 15 years ago, SPE was mainly focused on the reservoir, but that has changed dramatically. Thanks to the efforts of directors who proceeded me in this role (Ken Arnold, Paul Jones, and John Walsh) and those of many other volunteers, SPE now offers a host of services to the men and women who design, construct, and operate facilities.

I have spent the past 23 years in the oil industry (with 15 years in chemical plants before that). Much of my experience is in topsides process design. In recent years I’ve worked mainly in commissioning and initial startup planning. It will be my mission as the PF&C Director to use that background to guide SPE in the development of more services to facilities engineers. I will highlight some of those initiatives in future notes here. But for now, just a few words about what SPE already does for the PF&C community:

  1. Oil and Gas Facilities Magazine. This bi-monthly periodical, started two years ago, includes peer-reviewed articles, feature articles on a variety of topics, regular columns on water management and engineering culture. Expect much more in the way of how-to articles beginning early to mid-2014.
  2. Three Technical Sections on Separations Technology, Water Management, and Flow assurance (effective Jan 2014).
  3. A variety of workshops on topics such as Final Commissioning and Initial Startup, Water Management, Chemical Systems, and Flow Assurance.
  4. SPE recently rolled out Petrowiki. It contains the entire seven-volume Petroleum Engineering Handbook series including Volume III: Facilities and Construction Engineering.
  5. Social media tools to connect with other professions including the SPE LinkedIn site and SPE Connect.

We have come a long way and there is still a long way to travel.

  • Our projects are complex and we sometimes fail (on cost, schedule, and performance). We must do better.
  • I don’t think that we are training the next generation as well as my generation was trained. We must do better.
  • We have made great strides in personnel safety; perhaps less so in process safety. We must do better.
  • The local communities in which we install facilities frequently resist these developments. We must do a better job of engaging with local communities.

I look forward to serving as PF&C Director for the next three years and look forward to hearing your ideas on how SPE can better serve our community.

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Technical Director’s Notes: Productions and Operations

Shauna Noonan

Welcome to Production and Operations (P&O).  I am honored to serve as your SPE 2013–2015 Technical Director for the P&O discipline.  I have spent 20 years of my career doing all aspects of production engineering around the globe and as Technical Director have the responsibility for ensuring that P&O has quality coverage across SPE meetings, publications, and member services programs.  I am also looking for new events, programs, and training that will meet the needs of SPE members with interest in the P&O topics. To see the latest discussions and to converse with other  P&O peers, check out SPE Connect and join the Production Technical Community.

Below are the four primary topics covered under the P&O technical discipline within SPE, with exception to that used for the SPE P&O International award*. Please note that most of the surface (or seafloor) equipment and facilities used for production is now covered under the Projects, Facilities, and Construction technical discipline.

Enhanced Operations—Artificial Lift
This includes:

  • beam and related pumping techniques
  • electric submersible pumps
  • hydraulic and jet pumps
  • plunger lift
  • gas lift
  • progressing cavity pumps
  • hybrid lift technologies
  • gas well deliquification methods

Well Operations, Optimization, and Stimulation
This includes:

  • well candidate recognition
  • downhole intervention and remediation including wireline and coiled tubing
  • hydraulic fracturing (design, implementation and optimization)
  • acidizing
  • downhole produced sand/solids management and control
  • downhole produced water management and control
  • downhole fluids separation and disposal
  • well performance modeling and tubular optimization
  • well lifecycle management and planning

Well/Reservoir Surveillance and Monitoring
This includes:

  • production logging
  • borehole imaging and wellbore seismic
  • downhole and wellsite flow metering
  • downhole monitoring and control
  • production data management
  • integrated modeling

Production Chemistry and Metallurgy
This includes:

  • downhole inhibition and remediation of hydrates, scale, paraffin/wax and asphaltene
  • well fluid analysis
  • downhole corrosion inhibition and management (including H2S and CO2)
  • downhole chemical treatments and fluid compatibility

*The SPE International Production and Operations Award does not include the topics of hydraulic fracturing, acidizing, and downhole sand control. These are covered under the SPE International Completions Optimization and Technology Award, which was first awarded in 2009.

Shauna Noonan
Completion Technology Manager, Global Wells; ConocoPhillips

 

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RDD Director’s Blog—Speaking About Unconventional Reserves

The January issue of JPT integrates the Technical Directors outlook, where I referred to issues related to the production analysis and reserves booking of unconventional plays. I have already received quite a few feedbacks, most of them (not all of them!) positive, and I would like to develop a little bit more on this issue.

Read the Technical Directors outlook in January 2013 issue of JPT here »

Read the full, extended article here »

Welcome to New Technical Director: Reservoir Descriptions and Dynamics

Olivier Houze

Olivier Houzé is the managing director of KAPPA Engineering. He joined Flopetrol-Johnston in 1983, and served as a well test field engineer in the Middle East and a software project leader in France. He cofounded KAPPA in 1987 and has been its managing director since 1991.

Houzé has been involved in numerous SPE forums and workshops on well test interpretation and related topics. He was a coauthor of the last SPE Monograph on Pressure Transient Testing (2009). He also serves as an SPE Distinguished Lecturer for 2012–13. Houzé earned an engineer degree from École Polytechnique in France and an MS in petroleum engineering from Stanford University.

 

Welcome to New Technical Director: Productions and Operations

Shauna Noonan

I am excited and honored to be serving as SPE’s Technical Director for Production and Operations (P&O). My entire 20-year career has covered all aspects of P&O, ranging from supervising fracturing treatments in Northern Canada to completing failure analysis investigations on electric submersible pumping systems in South America. Call me biased, but I cannot imagine a better discipline to specialize in than P&O because it covers a wide range of exciting topics such as production logging, well interventions, artificial lift, wellbore multiphase flow behavior and stimulation.

In order to get some better clarity on what topics are actually covered within the P&O Discipline and our ability to address technical issues more effectively, we are implementing a new structure that introduces four new sub-disciplines: 1) Enhanced Productivity; 2) Enhanced Operation; 3) Asset Surveillance and Optimization; and 4) Production Chemistry and Metallurgy. Currently, my Advisory Committee is working on defining the topics that will reside under each of the new sub-disciplines and this will be published on the P&O discipline page in January 2013.  The goal is to disseminate this information across SPE, ranging from publications to conferences, to ensure global conformity. The P&O Technical Section is also going through some significant changes, so stay tuned for announcements regarding these in early 2013 as well.

Shauna Noonan
Wells Supervisor, Completions and Production Technology Group
ConocoPhillips, Houston

 

RDD Director’s Blog – September 2012

With high oil prices, the field application of EOR has been on the rise.  Please join me at ATCE in San Antonio where I will be moderating a special session titled “EOR – Out of the Lab and Into the Field.”

This session will cover some innovative applications of EOR; innovative in not just what was applied, but also how and where.

View more information on the ATCE schedule of events and find out what is really needed to deploy EOR in the field.

Special Session
EOR—Out of the Lab and into the Field
Tuesday, 9 October | 0830–1155

RDD Director’s Blog – July 2012

On behalf of the Technical Directors (TD), I would like to draw your attention to a new article series in JPT called the Young Technology Showcase.  This showcase is part of the TD’s Technology Pipeline strategy and is focused on bringing young technology to the SPE membership.  Young refers to early in the technology life cycle where a technology first becomes commercially available.

If you are looking for new technology to apply to your fields, check out two sections of the June 2012 issue of JPT Online:  Young Technology  – Editor’s Column on page 16 and Young Technology Showcase article, starting on page 40.    Additional information regarding Young Technology is provided in the President’s Column of the December 2011 JPT Online.

While Surfing – A blog by Ahmed Abou-Sayed

If you are here then, like me, you must be curious on what is the P&O community is up to? Well that is the idea of this place (page) and its linked websites. As the Production and Operations Technical Director, it pleases me to welcome you to your window on the production and operation world of activities. The P&O Discipline Page, as we will refer to this website, belongs to you, the P&O members and is administered by the SPE staff. We hope you will make it your gateway to explore and discover what is new in technology, where the upcoming events are and who authored the latest papers on your favorite subjects.

We encourage you to make it an active and viable website so as to spread the knowledge and share the benefits. I hope to be able to update this blog every month and whenever new or important happenings take place. I expect and solicit your input, and look forward to your feedback; please keep your contributions coming.

Finally, please watch this space as work is underway to update and roll the new P&O Technical Section community site with its attempt to provide a more focused technical feed to you, our members, on several main work tracks of the P&O community. We intend to link the technical section seamlessly to your P&O Discipline Page. Happy web-surfing everyone.