Seeking Big Oil Production Gains By Fracturing With Microproppant
Early testing suggests that grains of proppant so small they need to be measured in microns can add production by slowing the notoriously rapid declines in unconventional wells.
New Permian Oil Play Requires Pumping and Persistence
A new play in the Permian Basin is unconventional in an unexpected way: there is a small group of independents producing from a watery formation where oil production begins after they have pumped only water for weeks.
Rebound To Test If Cost Cuts Will Last
As drilling activity rises, the demand for all that is needed to complete wells rises even faster. The wells are bigger, and more water and sand are used for each foot stimulated.
Mexico Awards Its First Deepwater Blocks; What Comes Next?
Mexico’s long awaited deepwater auction saw 8 out of 10 blocks awarded but there remains plenty of work to be done before activity ramps up, including finalizing regulatory rules, upgrading ports, and optimizing the bid rules for future auctions.
Looking Up, But Still Tough Outlook Brightens for Unconventional Oil
US drilling and completion companies that were slashing workforces and cannibalizing pumping trucks for parts 6 months ago are now hiring crews and repairing equipment to meet rising demand.
New Study: US Shale Productivity Will Offset Rising Service Costs
Though crude prices are rising, US shale producers face questions over whether their improving oil production results and cost efficiencies will last as increasing drilling activity drives demand for oilfield services.
Technical Directors Outlook: Engineers Need To Learn From History Because the Industry Tends To Repeat It
SPE’s technical directors offer advice on how to get through the current bad times, which are not so different than when they got in the business.
Industry and Academia Continue Working on Big Ideas for Nanotechnology
A number of ongoing industry research projects are developing nanoparticles that work at the reservoir level and for fluid treatment. Though they may be a few years away from finalization, these efforts highlight nanotechnology’s increasingly sophisticated and growing application scope.
The Grand Challenge of Carbon Capture and Sequestration
This article is a summary of the 2016 follow-up paper on carbon capture and sequestration, one of the five grand challenges to the industry identified by the SPE R&D Committee in 2011.
Pores to Production: The Nanoscale Search for More Oil
The story of unconventional oil and gas technology development has been focused on fractures. The formula has been more stages, more sand, and more water, targeting the most productive spots.
More Oil, More Water: How Produced Water Will Create Big Cost Problems for Shale Operators
If crude prices, rig counts, and tight oil production demonstrate a stronger upward trend in the months to come, US shale operators may find themselves with more produced water than they bargained for.
Standardization May Hold Key to Future of Major Offshore Projects
Reducing the complexity and controlling the cost of major offshore projects are together one of the biggest challenges facing the oil and gas industry.
Salary Survey: Annual Survey Shows Declining Industry Salaries
Petroleum industry professionals reported an average calculated total compensation of USD 185,001 in 2016, less than reported in previous years, according to the latest annual SPE Salary Survey.
In Search of Cheap, Fast Ways To Detect Water Troubles
Treating produced water to control bacteria is like weeding a garden. It addresses the problem that is not going away.
New Field Testing Device for Water Competes With Laboratory Methods
Analyzing the properties of produced water is a difficult process because of the extreme levels of suspended and dissolved particulates contained in it, and a chemistry profile that is in constant flux.
TOC Analysis Gains Acceptance as a Standard for Organics Testing
The presence of excessive levels of organic components in produced water can lead to costly problems for operators ranging from clogged membranes in treatment facilities to environmental issues and compliance with government permits.
Partnership Key to ADNOC’s Technology Qualification Initiatives
ADNOC and BP will collaborate to form an earth surface technology center in Abu Dhabi. ADNOC has also reformed its stage gate process for advancement of new technologies.
Devon Energy Rises to the Top as a Data-Driven Producer
The use of intelligent software is on the rise in the industry and it is changing how engineers approach problems. A series of articles explores the potential benefits and limitations of this emerging area of data science.
Four Answers to the Question: What Can I Learn From Analytics?
The use of intelligent software is on the rise in the industry and it is changing how engineers approach problems. A series of articles explores the potential benefits and limitations of this emerging area of data science.
Analytics Firms Explore Oil and Gas Market
The oil and gas industry is facing an invasion of data analytics startups who saw a wide-open gap in the market a few years ago when talk of big data first began.
Accelerating the Uptake Cycle Through Collaboration, Outsourcing
A newcomer in the arena of oilfield market research has set an ambitiously high bar for itself: to speed up the oil and gas industry’s widely acknowledged and painfully slow rate of technology adoption.
Shift Toward Permian Drives Rising Rig Count
The US rig count has inched up recently, and the driver has been the old reliable of onshore oil production, the Permian Basin. With surging production, the Permian is the only major US oil shale play to grow since crude prices began to fall.
2017 SPE President’s Interview: Janeen Judah
2017 SPE President Janeen Judah shares the goals for her presidency and the strategies she has planned to guide SPE through the downturn. Seconded to this position from Chevron, Judah will take office during the 2016 SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition (ATCE).
As Iran Ramps Up Production, Industry Views Contract Terms
Iran has surprised many global market experts with how rapidly it has increased crude oil production, following the January international agreement that lifted nuclear-related sanctions against the country. External companies get a look at new terms for production in Iran.
Contract Concerns Loom Over Iraq’s Upstream Outlook
Iraq is producing oil at record levels this year but low oil prices have cast doubts on the economic feasibility of its licensing contracts, which some analysts and policy advisers say are holding back higher output.
Scaling Up Smart Water
For nearly a decade, Saudi Aramco has been studying how altering the chemical makeup of seawater injected into its reservoirs can increase production. The result is "smart water" that can boost the sweep effectiveness of a waterflood.
Egypt Strives To Bolster Economy With Foreign Investment, Imports
An international bidding round for oil and gas announced on 1 August is Egypt’s most recent move to bolster its lackluster economy. This article examines the current state of the industry in Egypt.
India Road Tests Its E&P Growth Plan
An auction of small discoveries that were passed over by India’s national oil companies is a test of the country’s efforts to boost oil and gas development by encouraging participation from inside and outside this energy-hungry country.
3D Printing in the Oil Field Kicks Into Production Mode
Service companies are using the latest generation of additive manufacturing technology to print out steel components for big ticket downhole tools. There is great potential for the technology to drive down equipment costs and improve performance.
Operators Begin Considering Pumps on Older Subsea Fields
The sharp downturn in the offshore oil business has sparked interest in using subsea pumps to add production. If those conversations turn into orders, it may convert this rarely used option into a commonly used tool for extending the life of offshore fields.
Drilling Slump in North Dakota Allows Rapid Flaring Reduction
The amount of natural gas flared has plunged in North Dakota, a region that has been the leader by far in gas wasted because gathering systems could not hook up the wells fast enough.
Upon Further Consideration, US Gas Reserves Look Bigger
The list of the biggest gas plays in the US is being revised as the US Geological Survey creates new estimates based on additional drilling results and available rock samples. New at Number 2 is the Mancos Shale on the Western Slope of the Rockies with 66 Tcf in recoverable reserves.
Breaking From the Norm To Reach Marginal Offshore Fields
A number of companies are pushing for alternative approaches to offshore development that seek to access marginal reservoirs. Their differing and unique ideas call for a departure from the usual playbook, but share a common goal of slashing capital costs.
Offshore Development Slump Likely To Cause Long-Lasting Pain
Offshore exploration will be slow to come back as companies have delayed billions in projects through 2020. Exploration projects also must complete for funds with brownfields developments like EOR that potentially provide a shorter time to show a return.
BOPs Become the Focus of Data-Driven Scrutiny
Well control is built around huge steel machines, but the future of the business is digital. Data have become a critical asset as operators and service companies work to increase the safety and reliability of their products and operations.
Rethinking the Blowout Preventer
A new blowout preventer design shows potential for delivering much greater shearing power than current BOPs. The design is simpler and more efficient than current BOPs.
Young Technology Showcase—Top-Down Modeling: A Shift in Building Full-Field Models for Mature Fields
Data-driven, or top-down, modeling uses machine learning and data mining to develop reservoir models based on measurements, rather than solutions of governing equations.
EOR-For-Shale Ideas to Boost Output Gain Traction
The low recovery rates observed in most shale reservoirs has prompted a number of research projects to develop new enhanced oil recovery methods.
Norway Faces Up to Harsh Conditions
The need to economically invest in offshore exploration and production has inspired a wide range of innovations in Norway to drastically reduce costs, which can lead to changes in offshore operations around the world.
Subsea Price War Demands Cost-Saving Innovations
Anyone selling something new for offshore exploration and production has to be able to answer a simple question from customers, “How can we save some money?” For Norwegian oil companies, change is coming in many forms: steel, sensors, software, and standards.
Really Remotely Controlled Underwater Vehicles
Operators for remotely operated vehicles will be getting more remote in the future as land-based control begins to become a reality.
Re-Emergent Iran Brings Large Potential
With Iran re-entering the global oil market, this article looks at the state of Iran's oil industry, the condition of its fields, its use of technology, and its present and future production potential.
Seismic Shifts in Oklahoma Lead to Stricter Regulations
Industry regulators in Oklahoma have rolled out broad new restrictions on more than 600 disposal wells as part of the largest action of its kind taken in response to earthquakes.
Mapping Fracturing With Pressure Change
A service using pressure data from a few nearby unconventional wells to map fracturing will soon be for sale.
Grinding Out Big Data From Tiny Samples
A company known for being a pioneer in methods built on imaging ultratight rock at the core level has built a business testing drilling cuttings to help identify productive, fracturable rock to help operators design better completions.
DNA Sequencing: A New Diagnostic Tool for Shale Wells
For the past 2 decades, the use of DNA sequencing technology has largely been relegated to the domains of criminal forensics and the healthcare industry. One company is betting that the shale industry soon will join that list.
Pressure Test for E&P Innovation
Low prices require doing things differently. It is a hopeful sign for the future for innovators who have been struggling to keep going and have potential customers with little to spend and a lot to worry about.
Getting a Feel for the Rock
The force required to drill through a rock is a direct test of its strength and stiffness. Developing a reliable measure of the properties of rock based on the force required to drill a long lateral is a large challenge.
Unconventional Measures For Shale Reservoirs
One of the biggest ways to lower the cost of production from shale would be to identify zones that are productive, or not, before fracturing them.
Shale Completions Improve, Despite Shrinking Number of New Wells
Two places that illustrate the mounting challenges facing the shale business are the Bakken Shale in North Dakota, where the number of working rigs is one-third what it was a year ago, and the Fayetteville Shale in Arkansas, where there are no more working rigs.
Beyond the Headlines—Fugitive Gas and Flaring: Current and Future Realities
Are fugitive releases of natural gas and flaring environmental concerns? Can these be ameliorated today and even better in the future? Yes and yes.
The Wide Divide Between Fracturing Plans and Reality
What is observed when an unconventional well is fractured is often at odds with what was expected by those who planned the job.
Pressure Changes While Fracturing Add To Marcellus Well Production
When it comes to hydraulic fracturing, steadiness may not be a virtue. That was the conclusion of a test to see if rapid pump rate variations would lead to greater production than conventionally fractured stages when the pressure was held steady.
Surviving the Downturn: Oil Executives See Continued Tough Times Ahead
Holding little back, speakers at the annual IHS CERAWeek conference in February discussed how the industry has been shaped by the disruptive impact of North American shale production and predicted that many more months of financial pressure will spell the end for some companies.
Russian Oil Producers Keep Pushing Up Production
Russian oil production has remained on a growth path despite the plunge in oil prices because producers have built their business on producing oil for less than USD 30/bbl.
World Must ‘Tighten Valves’ on Methane Emissions
The importance of reducing emissions of methane, a short-lasting but powerful atmospheric greenhouse gas (GHG), received close attention from panelists at an IHS CERAWeek strategic dialogue, Tightening the Valves on Global Methane Emissions.
Is Industry Ready for Brownfields’ Prime Time?
The case for focusing on boosting recovery from older fields in a depressed drilling climate is compelling. At a breakfast session during IHS CERAWeek on squeezing more oil from brownfields in a low oil price environment, panelists discussed today’s improved field recovery capabilities.
Vietnam Still Holds Much E&P Opportunity
As oil companies struggle with the collapse in crude prices and industry upheaval, assessing the future of exploration and production (E&P) in specific countries requires a longer term vision of a market in which prices will have stabilized and rebounded to a level yet undetermined.
Electromagnetic Imaging Offers First Look at the Propped Rock
Understanding how much rock is being stimulated and propped is critical for unconventional producers. New imaging methods using electromagnetic energy or acoustic microemitters could represent a milestone in understanding what is left behind after fracturing.
New Technology Seeks To Give Voice to Proppant
A pair of inventive companies are working on a way to allow microseismic tests to visualize the otherwise silent process of propping fractures.
Industrial-Sized Cyber Attacks Threaten the Upstream Sector
Cyber threats have expanded beyond data breaches and the theft of intellectual property. Drilling and production assets are at risk of being disrupted or destroyed due to vulnerable control systems.
As Attacks Rise, Prime Target Remains IT Networks
Second only to the power and utility sector, the oil and gas industry is experiencing a higher frequency of cyber attacks than any other industry. The vast majority of penetrations are in the information technology (IT) networks that run a company’s daily business.
Lingering Global Oil Bust Will Lead to Lasting Changes
Predictions of a 2016 recovery in the exploration and production (E&P) sector became increasingly rare after 2015 ended with a thud as oil prices sank below USD 40/bbl.
Power in Oil Markets Shifts Back to Middle East
Plunging oil prices led to a drastic drop in drilling rigs working in most places in the world, with a notable exception. Baker Hughes’ widely watched weekly report on drilling rigs shows activity has remained steady in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East.
Financial Pressures To Drive Industry To Consolidate
Pressure is growing this year for exploration and production (E&P) companies to “face the reality of a prolonged period of low prices,” said Alan Cunningham, technical director for Gaffney, Cline & Associates.
Service Focus Changes the Cost per Barrel
During a protracted period of depressed prices in E&P, the customer focus for service companies and suppliers shifts to finding ways to reduce the cost of producing a barrel of oil.
Understanding Uncertainty and Risk in Capital Projects
Speakers at the recent SPE Asia Pacific Unconventional Resources Conference and Exhibition addressed the role of uncertainty and risk in sanctioning megaprojects.
Petroleum Engineering Graduation Rate Exceeds Demand
Petroleum engineers have sophisticated, precise equations to help predict and control what flows out of wells. But when it comes to the number of trained engineers in the world, guesswork is required.
Living-Dead Equipment Adds to Oversupply
Those who track drilling and fracturing equipment are apt to mention zombies. That is the living-dead machinery still counted as available to work, but more likely now to be used for spare parts or scrapped.
So Many Jobs Have Been Cut It Is Hard To Count Them All
The impact on workers from the global downturn is so large it is difficult to track. At the high end of the job loss estimates is John Graves, owner of Graves & Co., who estimated the number of jobs lost in the oil and gas industry at more than 250,000 at year end, and rising.
Downturn Represents Stress Test for Unconventional Hydraulic Fracture Modeling
Developers of the latest generation of unconventional hydraulic fracturing models are hoping that current weak oil and gas prices will generate newfound interest in their software technology.
Offshore Seismic Feeling Pressures to Change
Seismic innovators are working on new sound sources designed to produce better subsurface images while addressing concerns raised by scientists and regulators about the environmental impact of the related noise on sea life.
Innovative Developments in Caspian Republics’ Oil and Gas Production
The Caspian Sea region is once again becoming one of the globe’s important frontiers in oil and gas production. Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan are in the midst of intensive efforts to underpin their developing economies by increased exploitation of massive reserves.
Technical Directors Outlook: Doing Better in Bad Times
Concerned about the long-term impact of the current oil recession, SPE’s seven technical directors give their outlook for the coming year.
Young Technology Showcase—Metal-Formed Liner Hanger Avoids High-Setting-Pressure Requirements
Seminole Services’ Powerscrew Liner System is a new expandable-liner hanger that is set with torsional energy from the topdrive.
Mikhail Chertenkov, Deputy CEO of Field Development Technology, Lukoil-Engineering
Q&A to discuss heavy oil production and some of the challenges of working in harsh environments.
Drilling Wells Ever Faster May Not Be the Measure of Success
The standard for progress in shale development has been the drastic reduction in the number of days needed to drill a well, from more than 20 to less than 5 in some unconventional plays. But some question whether it has become a misleading metric for an industry needing more productive wells.
The Search for Measures of Drilling Imperfection
The only wells that are straight or follow a smooth curve are in the pictures in well plans. Real wellbores are shaped by the mechanics of directional drilling tools, the skills and attention of drillers, the force of gravity, and the path followed by hydrocarbon-rich seams of rock.
Improving Shale Production Through Flowback Analysis
Most shale producers in North America have given little thought to the flowback stage following hydraulic fracturing. Others have come to realize it represents a valuable opportunity to learn more about their wells.
Salty Flowback Research May Explain Fluid Movement in Shale
An area of great interest to those researching flowback is the interaction of water and salt inside the shale reservoir. After a well is stimulated, the flowback fluids tend to show a rising concentration of salt that falls back to near zero over time.
Letting It Soak In: Delaying Flowback Delivers Unique Results
On the far end of the flowback spectrum is a completion process called soakback. If the well has to be shut in until takeaway capacity is available, the completion fluids soak into the shale rock. Flowback analysis can help understand what happens in the formation.
Following Flowback With Chemical Tracers
Rising demand for flowback technologies to reduce uncertainties is leading to the creation of more hydrocarbon and water tracers. These chemical-based tracers may play an important role in the shale industry’s effort to come up with more cost-effective fracture designs.
Annual SPE Salary Survey: Petroleum Industry Salaries Fall in 2015
In SPE's annual salary survey, average total compensation dropped back to 2013 levels after an increase last year. Nonetheless, more than half of respondents reported that their base pay increased in 2015.
What Is All This Talk About Emissions?
Emissions are in the air and in the headlines every day. With growing regulations around all types of air emissions, are there ways that industry can deploy technologies cost-effectively in the current environment?
Technology, Efficiency, and Midstream Growth Drive Long-Term Future for Marcellus, Utica
While the collapse in oil price is reshaping opinions about the North American shale revolution and the outlook for oil producers, natural gas producers in the United States are in a somewhat different position
SPE Effluent Discharge Management Workshop Addresses Standards and Regulations
The SPE Trinidad and Tobago Section recently hosted an Applied Technology Workshop (ATW) on oil and gas effluent discharge management that brought together those responsible for generating effluent discharges, regulators, and those creating treatment technologies
Seismic Data: Looking for Oil From More Angles
New seismic data gathering techniques promise better images for less by gathering more data quicker, seeing past obstructions, and seeking out scarce frequencies.
Seismic Data: The Hunger for the Lowest Frequencies Takes Data Gathering in New Directions
The word “broadband” is used to sell a lot of what is new in offshore seismic. It can mean different things depending on who is speaking.
Seismic Data: Faster, Better Seismic Surveys by Making Many Sounds at Once
Companies are using an increasing number of sound shots to gather more data in a shorter time frame.
Seismic Data: Intractable Problem and Big Payoff Sell a Seismic Acquisition Innovation
Developing the Mad Dog discovery appeared to be high-risk because of the difficulty in mapping the subsurface because of the thick layer of salt underlying the region.
University Research and Development Steady in Industry Downturn
Sustained low oil prices have not yet had a significant effect on many universities’ research and development programs. For now, money allocated by the oil and gas industry in previous years is still available for many institutions.
Q&A: Mario Ruscev, CTO, Baker Hughes
The chief technology officer tells why he is optimistic about the current oil price situation, how the market downturn could be an ideal opportunity for innovation and slashing costs, and what major technology trends will be expected in the near future.
Artificial Lift Experts Warn of Long-Term Production Issues in Horizontal Wells
A panel of experts says US shale producers need to rethink their drilling and completion designs as problems mount for horizontal wells when they go on pump. Hanging in the balance is whether long-term production from many shale wells will be achievable.