SPE Technology Updates

Industry and Society news grouped by SPE technical discipline

New M&I technical director Cindy Reece shares her top three goals for 2012

I am very honored to serve as your new Management and Information (M&I) Technical Director. Many thanks to Kamel Bennaceur for progressing this technical area and for his service to SPE as the former M&I Technical Director.

I plan to use this space as a blog area to keep you apprised of what I’m focusing on in M&I. I will be updating it on a monthly basis. In this first post, I share my top three goals for 2012.

Goal 1: M&I Understanding and Challenge Identification

The M&I area is very interesting one. It encompasses many topics that cut across the traditional disciplines of Reservoir, Drilling, Facilities, etc. In talking with members, I find that this area is not well understood. This will be one of my early goals to better establish an understanding of M&I with the membership and to identify what key challenges need to be addressed.

Goal 2: Digital Energy – What’s Next

Digital or intelligent energy has emerged as one of the newest areas within M&I. Through the leadership of some key SPE members, this area continues to change the way oil and gas is found, developed and produced. The time is right to reassess our SPE strategies in this area to ensure we help the industry achieve optimum benefit from these new capabilities. To that end, we have two initiatives ongoing. First, the Digital Energy Technical Section has chartered a team to reassess their strategies and charter. Second, the Technical Directors have identified Data to Action (D2A) as one of three Hot Topic Technologies that are being assessed and addressed holistically from an SPE delivery perspective. This is a joint effort between Ahmed Abou-Sayed, the Production Operations Technical Director, and me.

Goal 3: Petroleum Engineering (PE) Faculty Challenges

Our industry faces challenges attracting, developing and retaining PE faculty. Over the past year, I have been involved with a special SPE task force that identified these challenges and made recommendations to the SPE Board to recognize faculty with monetary awards in three areas: 1) demonstrating teaching excellence, 2) providing research seed funds to junior faculty and 3) encouraging students to pursue academic careers. The Board approved these awards on a pilot basis and we are currently forming award committees to make awards in the coming academic year.

I welcome your input, feedback and assistance to help progress the M&I area. You can contact me at cindy.a.reece@exxonmobil.com.

Trends in Monitoring: How to Use Real -Time Data Effectively

David Pritchard, Successful Energy Practices International, Jesse Roye, Digital Oilfield Solutions, and J.C. Cunha, Ecopetrol America

Real-time data is not about well control, it is about well control avoidance. Recent catastrophic blowouts have underscored the value of real-time data and, more importantly, they have also underscored the value of having the right kind of experience to understand well data interpretation in real time.

What is the well telling us? How do we use real-time data to ensure a stable wellbore? Real-time monitoring integrated with rigorous total well control analysis is required to embrace and achieve continuous improvement and ensure the safest possible environment. Next generation monitoring requires a step change that includes hazards avoidance as a precursor to drilling optimization.

Real-time data can be used effectively to avoid, minimize, and better manage drilling and completion operations. They can also provide the foundational support to improve training in the industry as well as develop hands-on simulators for hazards avoidance.

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

Reducing the Hidden Costs of Subsea Well Completions

Stephen Rassenfoss, JPT/JPT Online Staff Writer

Subsea completions have made it possible to produce oil in remote locations and from smaller reservoirs. But the cost of maintaining them may shorten their productive lives.

“Subsea wells have the same things that go wrong as other wells, but fixing them requires moving in a rig and the cost can often be USD 1 million a day,” said Matthew Law, technical manager of sales and marketing at Expro Ax-s Technology. “Where there is direct access from a production platform, there is generally regular well intervention. As a result, the recoverable reserves are higher.”

Major producers such as BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Statoil, and Shell are among those seeking to cut the cost of deepwater workovers by 50% or more to allow better maintenance. There is no accepted industry average for how much production can be gained from regular interventions. The consensus is that the potential impact on the thousands of subsea completions represents billions of dollars worth of hydrocarbons.

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

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.

Building a “New Normal” on the Bedrock of Risk Management

Martin Craighead became president and chief executive officer of Baker Hughes on 1 January 2012. He joined the company in 1986 and has served in various engineering, operations, managerial, and executive positions throughout North America, Latin America, and Asia Pacific. Craighead was named chief operating officer of Baker Hughes in 2009 and was appointed president in July 2010. He earned a BS degree in petroleum and natural gas engineering from Pennsylvania State University and an MBA from Vanderbilt University.

Historically, our industry has been driven by a series of inflection points to re-examine best practices, technologies, or philosophies on how we conduct our business. The most notable of these have often been associated with tragedies such as the 1988 Piper Alpha disaster in the North Sea and, most recently, the Macondo disaster in the US Gulf of Mexico. Piper Alpha led to a wide-scale focus on health, safety, and the environment (HSE), fundamentally changing the way companies viewed safety, and led to orders of magnitude improvement in HSE practices. While the full impact of Macondo is only now being fully understood, it is clear that we will see a similar effect on the way we handle quality, competency, safety critical systems, and contingency planning.

In both of the incidents, external pressure precipitated the cultural or technical shift to a new operating norm, while the capabilities and technology for bridging the gap were available. Until we consider risk management and operational sustainability as business drivers and an equal part of our mission, we will never make the paradigm shift from a reactive to a proactive business model.

The industry’s goal should be an incident-free environment, but government regulation alone will not help the industry achieve that goal. The reservoirs our industry is targeting are more challenging, the environments are harsher, and the technology required is ever more complex. As an industry we must be willing to go far beyond what is regulated—we must fundamentally change the culture of our business to address risk management in our processes, our technology, our talent management, and our safety programs.

Consistent processes and procedures across our business are the foundation for this change. A common operating system not only ensures that we meet regulations in all areas where we work, but also establishes repeatable performance that takes us far beyond what is required. Generally, there is one best way to perform an activity, whether it is solving problems for our customers or developing new products and technology.

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

Well Control

Procrastination: Is it too many things going on at once that causes us to rush to meet deadlines, or makes us forget to complete important tasks in a timely manner, or even try to do too many things at once, resulting in nothing getting done correctly? You probably are wondering how this relates to well control. In our work schedules, we all are faced with situations in which we are required to complete multiple concurrent tasks. This often is the case when we rush to finish drilling a problem well so that we can get the drilling rig moved to the next location and turn this well over to the completions team. Multiple activities must be completed concurrently that, individually, are relatively simple, but each activity requires the attention of the driller, tool pusher, company man, and others on the crew. When one of these tasks begins to go awry, our attention may be on something else, and we can miss important warnings until it is too late to avoid a disaster.

What is the point? Once again, I will use the Macondo blowout as an example. To leave the well in a position to be completed by another crew, mud had to be removed from the riser and top of the well and be replaced with seawater. A spacer was pumped between the mud and seawater to prevent mixing of the seawater and mud. This is a simple enough operation, it seems, but when seawater is being pumped into the well, mud has to be pumped onto a workboat to prevent the pits from running over, and the spacer is being dumped overboard; keeping track of how much of each fluid is going where becomes a daunting task. Could this have been a contributing factor in not recognizing the beginning of the kick?

Jerome Schubert, SPE, is an assistant professor in the Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering at Texas A&M University. He has more than 30 years’ experience with Pennzoil, Enron Oil and Gas, the University of Houston– Victoria Petroleum Training Institute, and Texas A&M University. Schubert earned BS, ME, and PhD degrees in petroleum engineering from Texas A&M University. He is a coauthor of Managed Pressure Drilling and the author of more than 35 technical papers. Schubert serves on the JPT Editorial Committee and has served on several SPE committees and as a Technical Editor for SPE Drilling & Completion. He serves as Faculty Advisor for Pi Epsilon Tau. Schubert is a registered professional engineer in Texas.

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.

SPE Drilling & Completion – featured papers

View the entire contents of the December 2011 issue.

Completion Design and Execution

151970-PA – Completing the First Big Bore Gas Wells in Lunskoye–a Case History
C. Zerbst, SPE, and J. Webers, SPE, Sakhalin Energy Investment Company Limited

134326-PA – Numerical Simulations of Sand-Screen Performance in Standalone Applications
Somnath Mondal, SPE, and Mukul M. Sharma, SPE, University of Texas at Austin; and Rajesh A. Chanpura, SPE, Mehmet Parlar, SPE, and Joseph A. Ayoub, SPE, Schlumberger

Drilling and Completion Fluids

140868-PA – Development of Water-Based Drilling Fluids Customized for Shale Reservoirs
J.P. Deville, B. Fritz, and M. Jarrett, Halliburton

135166-PA – Protecting the Reservoir With Surfactant Micellar Drill-In Fluids in Carbonate-Containing Formations
Tianping Huang, SPE, James B. Crews, SPE, and David E. Clark, SPE, Baker Hughes

141447-PA – Stabilizing Viscoelastic Surfactants in High-Density Brines
R. van Zanten, SPE, Halliburton

130579-PA – Laminar and Turbulent Friction Factors for Annular Flow of Drag-Reducing Polymer Solutions in Coiled-Tubing Operations
Chinenye C. Ogugbue, SPE, and Subhash N. Shah, SPE, Well Construction Technology Center, University of Oklahoma

Mitigating Disaster–A Look at the Ohmsett Oil Spill Research and Test Facility

Robin Beckwith, Staff Writer JPT/JPT Online

On 11 October 2011, the X Prize Foundation announced the winners of the USD 1.4 million Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup X CHALLENGE, launched during the summer of 2010 in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster in the US Gulf of Mexico. According to a press release, “the competition inspired entrepreneurs, engineers, and scientists worldwide to develop innovative, rapidly deployable, and highly efficient methods of capturing crude oil from the ocean surface.” Emerging from an original field of more than 350 submissions from all over the world, Elastec/ American Marine of Carmi, Illinois, captured the USD 1 million first prize, with Norway’s NOFI Tromsø awarded the USD 300,000 second prize; no contestant’s cleanup system qualified to receive third prize.

Testing the 10 finalists’ technologies in order to determine the winner would have been impossible were it not for a facility called Ohmsett (Oil and Hazardous Materials Environmental Test Tank). What is Ohmsett, and why is it so critical to the development of oil spill prevention and mitigation technology?

Read the full article in the December 2011 issue of JPT