Formation Evaluation

For the first time in its 92-year history, SPE’s flagship event, the Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition (ATCE) is moving to the Middle East. ATCE will be held in Dubai in September 2016 with the theme of E&P 2.0—Transforming and Shaping the Future. This is timely for the industry to gather at the center of the energy world to discuss and formulate short-term and, more importantly, long-term strategies in response to the immense challenges we are currently facing—strategies that call for more-­innovative, more-­collaborative, and think-outside-the-box ideas, so that we can do more and better with less.

To do more with less, standardization and automation will be key. To do better with less, transformational and innovative technologies need to be developed, but technologies already available in other relevant industries such as mining need to be assessed carefully first. In this regard, some of the selected papers and additional readings shed light on cross-industry transfer of technologies.

With the challenging low oil price, the industry has cancelled or postponed large-scale exploration and development projects and laid off more than a quarter of a million professionals so far. Operators may now have limited capital and human resources. To prioritize, the trend, in the short term, is to focus more on getting the most from mature fields through integrated reservoir studies and infill drilling.  Some of the selected papers here are examples of best practices in integrated petrophysical studies and placement of complex wells in challenging geological conditions. A special panel session on this subject is also being organized for ATCE. Join us there for more lively discussion.

In integrated reservoir studies, core data are used as a reference. Quality control of these reference data has been and is being debated openly. With dramatic changes in the last 3 decades, many experienced laboratory petrophysicists have left the industry, resulting in a very challenging situation in core-data quality assurance. Issues such as how to obtain a core without mechanical damage during coring, as demonstrated in one of the selected papers, are fundamentally important.

Finally, it is worth noting that evaluating reservoir and caprock geomechanical properties is not only important to resources exploration and reservoir development but also equally critical to environmental protection and public safety. Enjoy reading.

Recommended Additional Reading

SPE 174403 Practical Approach to Caprock Analysis by M.R. Carlson, Applied Reservoir Enterprises, et al.

SPE 176943 Optimal Core-Retrieval Time for Minimizing Core Decompression Damage by Tobias Hoeink, Baker Hughes, et al.

OTC 26205 Research and Development in Reservoir Geomechanics in Brazil: Perspectives and Challenges by A.L. Serra de Souza, Petrobras, et al.

SPE 175682 Innovative Integration of Subsurface Data and History-Matching Validation To Characterize and Model Complex Carbonate Reservoir With High-Permeability Streaks and Low-Resistivity-Pay Issues, Onshore Abu Dhabi by Andi Salahuddin, ADCO, et al.

Shouxiang (Mark) Ma, SPE, is a senior consultant and supervisor of the petrophysical support and study unit with the Reservoir Description Division of Saudi Aramco. He leads a team of petrophysicists responsible for the company’s integrated petrophysical studies and advanced logging support. Before joining Saudi Aramco in 2000, Ma worked at Exxon Production Research Company, Wyoming Western Research Institute, New Mexico Petroleum Recovery Research Center, and China Yangtze University. He has authored more than 60 technical papers and holds several patents. Ma serves on the JPT Editorial Committee and was chairperson of the 2012–13 SPE Formation Evaluation Award Committee. He holds a BS degree from China Petroleum University and MS and PhD degrees from New Mexico Tech, all in petroleum engineering. Ma can be reached at

Formation Evaluation

Shouxiang (Mark) Ma, SPE, Senior Petrophysics Consultant, Saudi Aramco

25 July 2016

Volume: 68 | Issue: 8


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