New members of the SPE Student Chapter of Technische U. of Clausthal, interested in learning more about the petroleum industry and in increasing networking opportunities, attended the 2005 SPE/IADC Drilling Conference in Amsterdam in February. The students, slightly rushed because of the timing of examinations and the end of the semester, quick- ly rounded up funding and the means to attend the conference. The students give big thanks and gratitude to Baker Hughes, Halliburton, ITAG, KCA/Deutag, and Weatherford for help sponsoring the trip, as well as to Kurt Reinicke and Sebastian Behr at the Inst. of Petroleum Engineering at Technische U. and to the German Chapter of SPE.
Thirteen lucky students attended, fitting into two vans/minibuses. They left Clausthal-Zellerfeld at 4 p.m. on 22 February, and the journey of roughly 600 km went quite smoothly. They drove for a little more than 6 hours straight into the location of the conference at the RAI Congress Centre. On the first day of the conference, Wednesday, the students learned that, on that day, they may have been the only students at the conference. The local Dutch students and students from Great Britain and France, among others, would be attending the last 2 days of the conference.
Participants of the conference were largely from service companies such as Weatherford, Baker Hughes, Halliburton, Schlumberger, Varco, KCA/Deutag, and others. But several operators also participated, including BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, and Chevron. The students took time to thank their sponsors such as Weatherford, Baker Hughes, and Halliburton. Speaking with these service companies, the consensus was that they are pleased with the new generation of students that have chosen to study petroleum engineering. Specifically to the students of Technische U. of Clausthal, they were pleasantly surprised to hear of the students’ diverse backgrounds.
Among some of the most interesting presentations was the opening Plenary Session: “New Technology Development—Who Should Be Responsible?” The panel consisted of the decision makers from Schlumberger, Transocean, BP Technology, Shell E&P, and Chevron. The service-company representatives pointed out that the amount of reserves and resources has increased during the past 20 years mainly because of technology. For example, new drilling development enabled the industry to access hydrocarbons from reservoirs that were previously unreachable or uneconomical. There was also discussion about whether the effectiveness of drilling activities would harm service-company business. But operators said that the reduction of drilling time from one well often results in more wells being drilled on that site.
The students also attended technical sessions as well as another plenary session that discussed the time the petroleum industry takes to adopt new technology. The oil industry historically has not been quick to take up new technology, and service companies admitted that they have, in the past, developed some technology without thoroughly assessing the need for that technology. The service companies and operators represented at this panel agreed that a halfway point is needed between the two to move the industry forward.
The conference was valuable to the students for several reasons. They learned a lot about the relationship between service companies and operators as well as the importance of practical applications in solving problems in the field. For instance, a new technology is not always the solution; existing technologies should not be overlooked. The students also were exposed to the many complexities and challenges facing the oil and gas industry. Last, but definitely not least, was the opportunity to experience the exciting atmosphere of Amsterdam. The students hope to repeat such an adventure.
Attendees at the drilling conference.