Category Archives: Reservoir Description and Dynamics

High-Pressure/High-Temperature Challenges

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.

Seismic Applications

Following an increased investment in advanced seismic solutions, we have
experienced some remarkable boundary shifts in seismic-data quality in recent years.
Significant improvements have been achieved in densely sampled wide-azimuth seismic
acquisition and in wave-equation-based imaging techniques, such as full-waveform
inversion and reverse time-migration, in processing. Also, emerging marine
broadband-seismic solutions promise a real step change in resolution, offering
unprecedented detail in subsurface interpretation and enhanced penetration of low
frequencies for deep imaging.

Massive changes are also happening in the amount of data being acquired,
leading to new challenges in processing and interpretation. The channel count for
onshore-acquisition systems continues to increase, and new records have been set in
the towing capacity of marine-seismic vessels. These continuing developments enable
efficient acquisition of larger and denser surveys with longer offsets and rich azimuth
data. However, these developments generally are also associated with an increased
footprint that must be managed both operationally and environmentally.

It is, therefore, evident that not all new techniques can be ported easily to all environments.
Adequate solutions must be chosen from the growing geophysical toolbox,
balancing technical aspects with operational constraints and business requirements.
Large-scale regional exploration surveys in environmentally sensitive or remote areas
can differ significantly from detailed surveys required for infill-drilling targets. Flexible
and scalable survey techniques are particularly important to enable smart data
acquisition in areas where access had been notoriously difficult because of environmental,
operational, or economic restrictions.

This seismic feature provides examples for ongoing boundary shifts in seismic
technologies complemented by a guide for the interpretation of microseismic data
and a pilot study about pushing time-lapse seismic monitoring toward carbonate reservoirs.
A common element of the documented successes is continued commitment to
and investment in technology and a close integration with business.

Read the paper synopses in the March 2012 issue of JPT.

Gerd Kleemeyer, SPE, leads the Integrated Geophysical Services team in Shell’s Global Solutions Upstream organization in Rijswijk, the Netherlands. During 17 years with Shell, he has worked on exploration and development projects in the Netherlands, Norway, the UK, and Russia, and as geophysical consultant for global new-venture exploration. Kleemeyer holds an MS degree from the Technical University of Clausthal, Germany, and he serves on the JPT Editorial Committee.

Well Testing

The value of information has a ubiquitous and sometimes pervasive role in modern well testing. From exploration to field management to surveillance, well-test practitioners deal with a wide array of measurements (e.g., pressure, flow rates, temperature, and fluid analysis) that, more often than not, encompass large amounts of data. This is particularly true for long-term-production-data analysis of established fields, and one can argue the same for any current pressure-transient analysis that also has benefited from improved and more-robust data-acquisition available today. Likewise, dynamic information through downhole testing equipment can be acquired in real time—wirelessly and at sampling frequencies that were not possible only a decade ago.

Yet what seems to be a relative abundance of data often is challenged by the complex environments in which we operate and by our need to assess its value against associated costs and business risks. One way to look at this is under the premise that, while “perfect” information is beneficial to have, it also is costly to acquire and economically inefficient. Is there a unique answer in our choice of type curves, material balance, or specialized graphs? Should we account for multiphase flow or rock compaction? More importantly, what is the value of the next-best substitute for the information we require? And can this substitute information still allow us to meet our testing objectives? Herein lies the delicate balance between our choices of risk and uncertainty, which brings us to the message of this feature: We should not look for data-rich, but information-rich, content that meets our testing needs.

The papers selected for this feature describe exciting advances and opportunities in well testing. They also show that the proper use of advanced techniques can lead to maximizing the value of the information at hand, even in hostile and unconventional situations.

Read the synopses in the February 2012 issue of JPT.

Renzo Angeles, SPE, is a Senior Engineering Specialist with ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company. His 12 years’ experience includes technical consulting in North and South America, the Middle East, Europe, and Asia. Angeles works with the unconventional-resources integrated project, and his areas of interest include well testing, formation testing, hydraulic fracturing, and near-wellbore modeling. Angeles holds MS and PhD degrees in petroleum engineering from the University of Texas at Austin, and has published 16 papers. He serves on the JPT Editorial Committee.

The Tantalizing Promise of Oil Shale

Robin Beckwith, Staff Writer JPT/JPT Online

A vast energy treasure lies within an 18,963-sq-mile area of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming: an estimated 4.28 trillion BOE of in-place resources of oil shale, according to US Geological Survey (USGS) research geologist Ronald Johnson. He presented the new assessment at the 31st Oil Shale Symposium, held mid-October 2011 at the Colorado School of Mines.

In other countries, while far fewer oil shale resources are thought to exist, their presence is nonetheless formidable. China contains an estimated 333 billion BOE; Russia, 248 billion BOE; Democratic Republic of Congo, 100 billion BOE; Jordan, 90 billion BOE; Brazil, 82 billion BOE; Italy, 73 billion BOE; Morocco, 53 billion BOE; Australia, 32 billion BOE; and Estonia, 16 billion BOE. Israel indicated at the 30th Oil Shale Symposium that its resources may be as much as 250 billion BOE.

The CIA World Factbook estimates 2011 world proved reserves of crude oil at 1.47 trillion bbl. Total annual production of oil shale in the only three countries today where it is exploited for commercial use is 73% less than daily worldwide crude oil production of approximately 86.74 million B/D.

With oil shale estimates vastly overshadowing those for crude oil, why does oil shale remain a scarcely touched resource?

Read the entire article in the January 2012 issue of JPT.

Mature Fields and Well Revitalization

Revitalizing mature fields embraces multiple objectives, especially maximizing production while minimizing capital expense and reducing the inevitable decline rate and minimizing the operating expense. The collective approach to meet these objectives is application of practical and focused engineering and geology tied with the application of enabling technologies.

Key enabling technologies in the revitalization of mature fields include reservoir simulation, advanced characterization techniques (e.g., 3D seismic and new measurement, tomographic, and visualization techniques), permanent downhole reservoir monitoring, horizontal and multilateral drilling, geosteering, production-enhancement techniques (e.g., secondary- and tertiary-recovery schemes), improved perforation and stimulation methods, new fracturing techniques and fluids, cutting-edge completion technologies, advanced logging techniques, artificial-lift optimization, and conformance control.

Implementation of appropriate enabling technologies can extend the producing life of mature fields. Yet the complexity of some of these fields can still present formidable challenges. It takes the right data, the right tools and techniques, and the right team to create an efficient, cost-effective field-development plan to optimize an aging asset.

Read the paper synopses in the January 2012 issue of JPT.

Syed A. Ali, SPE, is a research advisor with Schlumberger. Previously he was a Chevron Fellow with Chevron Energy Technology Company. Ali received the 2006 SPE Production and Operations Award. He earned BS, MS, and PhD degrees. He served as the Executive Editor of SPE Production & Operations and currently serves on several SPE committees, including the JPT Editorial Committee and Well Completions Subcommittee.

 

EOR Performance and Modeling

In spite of continued investment and advances in exploiting alternative energy sources, oil and natural gas will continue to be a significant portion of US and global energy portfolios for decades. Enhanced oil recovery (EOR) uses unconventional hydrocarbon-recovery methods that target the approximately two-thirds of the oil volume remaining in reservoirs after conventional-recovery methods have been exhausted. Though limited by high capital and operating costs, EOR techniques will have a substantial effect on the future supply of oil.

In 2011, SPE hosted an EOR conference in Kuala Lumpur, and three workshops to address EOR technologies in Malaysia, Kuwait, and the Syrian Arab Republic. The Malaysia workshop focused on chemical-EOR methods, the Kuwait workshop addressed opportunities and for challenges of EOR methods in the Middle East, and the Syrian Arab Republic workshop discussed EOR in carbonate reservoirs. More than 300 EOR papers were published in SPE conferences, with many additional presentations in EOR workshops. These papers address important issues related to practical application of conventional EOR methods and the development of novel EOR technologies. The topics cover experience with, opportunities for, and challenges of EOR technologies; fundamental study of EOR mechanisms for different methods; feasibility study and improvement of an EOR method for a specific reservoir; EOR-screening criteria; reservoir surveillance, monitoring, and evaluation technologies; reservoir simulation and modeling; lessons learned from EOR pilot and field trials; and some novel EOR methods.

Polymer flooding has been proved the most cost-effective chemical-EOR method in the laboratory and in the field. A recent focus on polymer flooding evaluated associative polymers because of their advantage over traditional hydrolyzed polyacrylamide (HPAM) polymers; thus, one paper about comparing the flow behavior of associative polymer and HPAM in porous media was selected for this feature.

CO2 injection is a win/win strategy because it can enhance oil recovery and be used for CO2 storage in reservoirs to reduce greenhouse-gas levels in the atmosphere. However, CO2 EOR targets maximum oil recovery while CO2 sequestration targets maximum storage capacity without leakage. One paper featured here provides some guidance to balance the two technologies.

Steamflooding has been applied successfully in heavy-oil reservoirs. However, one paper synopsized in this feature will describe successful steamflooding in a lightoil reservoir.

EOR opportunities in the Middle East are also highlighted.

Read the paper synopses in the January 2012 issue of JPT.

Baojun Bai, SPE, is an associate professor of petroleum engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology. Previously, he was a reservoir engineer and head of a conformance-control team for PetroChina. Bai holds PhD degrees in petroleum engineering and in petroleum geology. He serves on the JPT Editorial Committee and as a technical editor for SPE Journal and SPE Reservoir Evaluation & Engineering.

Reserves/Asset Management

As a member of the JPT Editorial Committee, I am privileged to review papers presented at SPE events during the last year in the area of Reserves and Asset Management. I am always impressed by the highly skilled, innovative members of our Society who address the constant change in our industry in these papers.

Recently, many of the reserves papers have focused on changes in reserves and resource estimation resulting from the introduction of the Petroleum Resource Management System (PRMS) and the US Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC’s) Modernized Rules. Last year, many of the papers dealt with theoretical aspects of reserves estimation in unconventional plays. This year, most of the papers dealt with unconventional reserves, focusing on integration of theoretical and practical aspects of the engineering principles used to estimate reserves and resources. Several papers went full circle to address how issues around PRMS or the SEC’s Modernized Rules affect reserves and resource estimation in unconventional resources.

There was a similar shift in asset-management papers. Prior years were weighted heavily toward theoretical-optimization approaches, primarily focused on surface facilities. This year, there were many excellent papers addressing the practical application of those principles in technically challenging, high-cost environments. Integration of surface and subsurface components to improve efficiency was another recurring theme.

The fact that I could select only a few of the many outstanding papers that I reviewed highlights the importance of attending the venues at which these papers are presented. The insight provided during the presentation’s opportunity to ask questions yields valuable information that cannot be obtained by reading the paper alone. I selected the papers for highlighting and those recommended for additional reading with a view to the needs and interests of the membership of our global society. I hope I found something that will benefit each of you.

Read the paper synopses in the December 2011 issue of JPT.

Delores Hinkle, SPE, is Director, Corporate Reserves, for Marathon Oil Company. She has worked for Marathon for 25 years and has 35 years of experience in the oil industry, including positions at Atlantic Richfield Company and Sun. Hinkle has served as Chairperson of the SPE Oil and Gas Reserves Committee and served on the 2010 SPE Hydrocarbon Economics and Evaluation Symposium Steering Committee and the 2009 SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition Management Program Subcommittee. She serves on the JPT Editorial Committee and on the SPE Gulf Coast Section Scholarship Committee. Hinkle earned a BS degree in petroleum engineering from the Missouri University of Science and Technology and an MBA degree from the University of Alaska, Anchorage.