Mitigating Bias, Blindness, and Illusion in E&P Decision Making

Course Description

This course begins by examining the types of bias, blindness, and illusion that affect us.  Exercises, videos, examples, and discussions help illustrate how these exert themselves in our daily activities.  We then address their role in the oil and gas industry via case studies that show their impact on decision-making. This is followed by a half-day, real-world exercise using data from an appraisal/development project to give participants practice in addressing bias, blindness, and illusion in their technical work. The course concludes by presenting a summary ‘toolkit’ with mitigation techniques that immediately can be applied to project work.

Decisions in E&P ventures are affected by bias, blindness, and illusion which creep into our analyses and interpretations. This two-day course examines the influence of these distortions and presents techniques that can be used to mitigate their impact:

  • Bias refers to errors in thinking whereby interpretations and judgments are drawn in an illogical fashion. 
  • Blindness is the condition where we fail to see an unexpected event in plain sight.
  • Illusion refers to misleading beliefs based on a false impression of reality. 

All three can lead to poor decisions regarding which work to undertake, what issues to focus on, and whether to forge ahead or walk away from a project. 

1. Introduction

2. Blindness and Illusion

  • Perceptual Blindness; Illusions of Knowledge, Potential, and Objectivity

3. Bias

  • Anchoring, Availability, Confirmation, Framing, and Implicit Conditioning Biases
  • Information, Overconfidence and Motivational Biases

4. Case Studies

  • Heavy oil (thermal)
  • Light oil (miscible gas injection)
  • Liquids-rich shale

5. Real-World Exercise (half-day)

  • Shale gas reservoir, or fractured carbonate reservoir
  • Summary ‘Toolkit’


Participants will be able to:

  1. Recognize the various forms of bias, blindness, and illusion and understand how these manifest themselves in our daily work.
  2. Identify motivational bias (a conscious bias) and understand how this triggers unconscious biases in us.
  3. Quantify how bias, blindness, and illusion contribute to poor decisions in our projects via multiple examples and case studies.
  4. Understand how to reduce our reliance on intuition, instinct, and “rules-of-thumb” in our analyses and interpretive work.
  5. Apply key steps to lessen the impact of bias, blindness, and illusion in our recommendations, decisions, and look-backs.

Learning Level


Course Length

2 Days

Why Attend

What Participants are saying in the course reviews:

  • "New concepts and materials--lightbulb moment!"
  • "Resonates through all of what we do."
  • "Powerful use of industry examples."
  • "Realistic exercises reinforce theory and concepts."
  • "These ‘new’ tools will be part of my everyday thought processes and interactions."

Who Attends

Engineers, Geoscientists, Managers, Economists


1.6 CEUs (Continuing Education Units) are awarded for this 2-day course.

Cancellation Policy

All cancellations must be received no later than 14 days prior to the course start date. Cancellations made after the 14 day window will not be refunded.  Refunds will not be given due to no show situations.

Training sessions attached to SPE conferences and workshops follow the cancellation policies stated on the event information page.  Please check that page for specific cancellation information.

SPE reserves the right to cancel or re-schedule courses at will.  Notification of changes will be made as quickly as possible; please keep this in mind when arranging travel, as SPE is not responsible for any fees charged for cancelling or changing travel arrangements.

We reserve the right to substitute course instructors as necessary.

Full regional cancellation policies can be found at the Cancellation Policy page within the SPE Training Course Catalog.


Creties Jenkins is a Partner with Rose and Associates specializing in the characterization of unconventional reservoirs. Over the past decade he has conducted integrated studies, project reviews, and resource evaluations for 50+ companies and has taught 100+ industry courses and workshops. He has served as a technical editor, Distinguished Lecturer, and distinguished author for SPE and is a past president of the Energy Minerals Division of AAPG. Jenkins received a MS in Geology and a BS in Geological Engineering from the South Dakota School of Mines. He is a registered professional engineer and a registered professional geologist in Texas.