SPE Technology Updates

Industry and Society news grouped by SPE technical discipline

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Director’s Note: Public Acceptability

Oil and gas companies are making long-term investments around the world in costly, technically complicated projects where unanticipated community concerns can significantly reduce the return on investment.  One of my goals as HSSE-SR Technical Director is to convince technical decision makers with a deep understanding of the project they are working on that success can depend on something outside the realm of the design specifications and engineering—PUBLIC ACCEPTABILITY.  Many project delays are the result of non-technical issues.  For a variety of reasons, there is not always a straight-forward path to address these issues early in the project life cycle.  Some ideas to better prepare the industry include:  (1) dealing with sustainability issues beyond regulatory requirements, (2) recognizing issues outside the workplace or outside the normal bounds of exploration, development production, which will require attention, and (3) understanding that what works changes from place to place.  In June 2015, the first SPE Health and Social Responsibility Forum will be held in Miami, Florida.  This forum will explore the role of the oil and gas industry in community health and include experts from outside the industry in health, technology, and academia.  Health impacts are a very real community concern.  The issues can range from the impact of noise and emissions associated with high volume unconventional development in the US to dealing with the health issues created when an oil company brings in people to remote places with few medical professionals.  These issues can have a profound impact on pubic acceptability of our industry.  One can lead to fights over drilling bans.  The other can mean lost time for workers out sick or caring for their loved ones.  Both point to the local nature of issues in this realm.  This is not a generic issue but a very specific sustainability issue that can significantly impact projects and local perceptions.  SPE will offer its first sustainability training program at its 2015 E&P HSSE Conference—Americas in Denver, Colorado.  My priority is to instill in operations leaders that sustainability needs to be integrated into the very way they think about their projects.

IPTC

International Petroleum Technology Conference

International Petroleum Technology Conference 
10 – 12 December 2014 
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia 

Renowned Eastern Hemisphere oil & gas event – Dissemination of new & current technology, best practices, and multi-disciplinary activities to emphasis the importance of the “value chain” and maximizing asset value.  D&C focused technical session: “Optimisation of Well Planning”,

DL

Distinguished Lecturer: December

“Fracturing Fluids: How to Frac with Less or No Water” by D.V.  Satya Gupta 

  • Dec. 11, 2014  Great Yarmouth, England 
  • Dec. 14, 2014  Dhahran, Saudi Arabia 
  • Dec. 16, 2014 Muscat, Oman 
  • Dec. 17, 2014 Cairo, Egypt 
  • Dec. 18, 2014 Tunis, Tunisia

The success of hydraulic fracturing technologies in North America is raising interest to develop unconventional resources in various parts of the world where freshwater resources are not readily available. The presentation will describe technologies currently available for fracturing applications using lower-quality water, fluid systems 
that minimize or eliminate water, and systems based on non-aqueous liquids, or even no liquids at all.

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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. 

Chris Shaw

What our members are saying…

Facilities engineers are old-school engineers that have a good handle on all the engineering disciplines.  They are often called on to troubleshoot, debottleneck, and optimize process plants. To do this, they need to understand the interactions between the instrumentation and service systems that affect control systems, the control element itself, safety systems, chemicals, rates, pressures, and temperatures.

Facilities engineers have to have broad experience and broad shoulders. The position is responsible for systems integration, processes, and the economic aspects of decision-making. The tasks can require mechanical, electrical, instrumentation and controls, or configuration and field development knowledge. The facilities engineer can’t detail design it all and needs to turn to others for support. SPE offers that support with training, knowledge transfer, and online technical communities, which are monitored by experienced engineers ready to offer advice and solutions.

Chris Shaw
PTI Deepwater (Subsea Processing)

New SPE Technical Section—Carbon Dioxide Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS)

SPE has formed a Technical Section to give members the opportunity to focus on Carbon Dioxide Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS), an area of interest for petroleum engineers worldwide. Industry interest in CCUS as a way to reduce emissions and for sequestering or storing carbon dioxide, has increased over the past decade. In response, SPE has stepped up programming in this area.

Carbon dioxide capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) involves capturing CO2 emissions from large point sources such as power plants and either reutilizing or storing the emissions to keep them from entering the atmosphere.

Expanded Career Opportunities for Petroleum EngineersPossessing the know-how for evaluation, selection, and monitoring of underground storage sites garnered through decades of experience in the fields of CO2-enhanced oil recovery (EOR) and gas storage operations, the E&P segment of the oil and gas industry is anticipated to play a major role in the advancement of CCUS including broader application of CO2-EOR.

Moreover, lessons learned in the ongoing commercial activities within the oil and gas disciplines of underground gas storage and CO2-EOR are directly transferrable to CCUS, thus expanding career opportunities for petroleum engineers.

Join the CCUS Technical Section
This SPE group seeks to bring the abovementioned activities together in one place for those interested in this developing subject. You will have opportunities to deepen your learning and share your insights through online discussions, web events, virtual meetings, forums, and workshops, and enjoy the benefits of at least one face-to-face meeting a year.

Learn more and join »