Talent & Technology
The American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers (AIME), of which SPE is a member society, is one of 17 societies that make up the American Association of Engineering Societies (AAES). AAES, a multidisciplinary organization of engineering societies dedicated to advancing the engineering profession’s impact on the public good, hosts working groups on topics of interest to three or more member societies. AAES formed the Lifelong Learning Working Group (LLWG) in 2013 to “serve as a forum to share best practices and data and to discuss issues and opportunities related to the activities of the member societies to enhance the quality of lifelong learning programs in the United States.” The group identified developing a competency model as a key priority to help many members understand the knowledge and skills needed to thrive in the engineering workplace.
SPE has been developing discipline-specific technical competencies for the past several years to assist young professionals, and more recently graduate engineers, in quickly ramping up with necessary skills needed to succeed in today’s competitive environment. SPE believes that accelerating competency is one direct way for industry to deal with “the big crew change” caused by the retirement of a large number of petroleum engineers. In addition to these technical competencies, SPE established a Soft Skills Committee 5 years ago to help oil and gas professionals garner and hone the nontechnical expertise needed to be successful in a global marketplace. SPE’s work is at the leading edge of lifelong learning efforts in the engineering profession.
The working group holds monthly calls, and SPE’s experiences have provided a critical template for other engineering organizations to develop their discipline-specific competencies. The challenge now is to bridge SPE’s work in discipline-specific technical and nontechnical skills with more generic competency model work that has recently been released by AAES to create a holistic lifelong learning roadmap for SPE members. Behrooz Fattahi, AIME 2014 president and SPE Soft Skills Committee charter member, asked AIME’s Executive Director and AAES LLWG cochair, Michele Lawrie-Munro, to work with SPE’s Soft Skills Committee to make these connections.
The SPE Trinidad and Tobago Section recently hosted an Applied Technology Workshop (ATW) on oil and gas effluent discharge management in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
The event brought together petroleum and petrochemical industry professionals involved in generating effluent discharges to the receiving environment, regulators, and those involved in the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of treatment systems for effluent discharge.
The goals of the workshop were to
There was a consensus that urgent collaborative action is needed among all stakeholders. The path forward received endorsement from the country’s regulators (the Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs [MEEA] and the Environmental Management Authority [EMA]), operators, and service providers. The areas of focus in the workshop included legislative reform, use of applicable technology, and availability of resources.
Participants discussed the Trinidad and Tobago legislation pertaining to effluent discharges. There were also presentations on experiences setting effluent discharge standards in the North Sea using the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Northeast Atlantic or OSPAR Convention, for possible use as a framework.
The topics of discussion about legislative reform centered on the following:
Are our current water pollution rules relevant and appropriately framed in the current environment?
The consensus was that there is an opportunity for the review of the current Water Pollution Rules created in 2001 and amended in 2006. For example, there is the need for ambient water-quality standards coupled with discharge standards. Current discharge standards were deemed to be stringent by some presenters compared with other jurisdictions such as OSPAR. OSPAR is using a holistic or risk-based approach in regulating effluent by the use of mixing zones and impact-based ambient water-quality standards vs. technology-based discharge parameters. To develop new ambient water-quality standards, a baseline study must be conducted on the receiving environment of Trinidad and Tobago.
JPT staff, _ (_)
In March, the SPE Board of Directors approved the publication of a technical report on the calculation of worst-case discharges (WCDs). The report, titled Calculation of Worst-Case Discharge, documents the consensus from an SPE-sponsored summit held in March last year.
At the summit, 68 subject-matter experts met in New Orleans with the goal of improving the methods of calculating and reporting WCD scenarios. The attendees—representing operators, regulators, academia, and service providers—developed the report, which was made available for comment for 30 days and edited to include comments before being approved by the Board.
The focus of the technical report is on the calculation of WCD rather than well design or intervention. Its primary application is in the US Gulf of Mexico, although the report may be used for wells elsewhere.
Deterministic methods are proposed because of the wording of regulations and requirements for detailed well design and response planning. Probabilistic modeling and statistical analysis are unacceptable. All reservoir properties, the report says, should be best-estimate, success-case values based on sound geology, geophysics, and engineering judgment. All calculation parameter values should be explained and justified to ensure consistency and transparency. Parametric sensitivity is recommended for identifying the major variables and their impact on the WCD calculation.
Topics covered in the technical report include reservoir properties, inflow modeling, outflow modeling, total volume, special cases, and reporting. Future improvements could include flow correlations for high rates in large-diameter pipes, sonic velocity effects, and probabilistic methods.The summit focused on defining methods for determining reasonable reservoir properties and fluid analog data to be used as modeling inputs for both shallow-water and deepwater wells. Discussions included the interaction of water sands and gas sands interspersed with oil sands, multiple sands in the same wellbore in various states of depletion, and the effects of secondary gas caps and water encroachment on calculated WCD values.
An SPE Applied Technology Workshop (ATW) on “The Characterization of Effective and Efficient Development of Fractured Carbonate Reservoirs” was held 15-18 June 2014 in Nanjing, China. Participants reviewed recent advances in exploration and production and the technical challenges presented by these reservoirs.
A variety of carbonate reservoirs exist worldwide, mainly paleokarst reservoirs. Because of various scales, poor continuity, strong heterogeneity, accumulation in vugs and fractures, and complex flow behaviors, the efficient development of fractured carbonate reservoirs is quite challenging.
Li Yang, cochairperson of the workshop, opened the session and ATW Chairman Wang Zhigang delivered one of two keynote speeches. He focused on the challenges and current activities of a key carbonate reservoir, Tahe, that he said represented the theme of the ATW. Usman Ahmed, also a workshop cochairperson, introduced the second keynote speaker, Christine Ehlig-Economides. She recalled an ATW a decade ago that also had focused on the Tahe reservoir. She set the stage for a discussion on how much the industry has advanced and the challenges that lie ahead.
In his keynote speech, Wang of Sinopec described the technical challenges and techniques used at Sinopec’s Tahe oil field in western China. The Tarim basin is the company’s largest carbonate play, with proven reserves of 1.3 billion tons and depths of 5300 m to 6300 m. The oil and gas accumulated in pores, vugs, and fractures of severe heterogeneity and depth make it difficult to predict and describe reservoir characteristics, he said.
Carbonate reservoir characterization and evaluation techniques have been developed that have improved the predictability of the carbonate reservoir and its distribution and have increased drilling success, he said. In the Ordovician carbonate reservoir of Tahe, a series of techniques such as paleokarst landform categorization, paleokarst cycle division, hydrocarbon accumulation period analysis, logging for reservoir identification, and evaluation have been implemented. In addition, massive acid fracturing (high pumping pressure, high injection rate, large scale) has become a major technique for development at the field.
In sum, the technical challenges are:
Young Technology Showcase
In artificial-lift applications, a new anchoring device for insertable progressing-cavity pumps (I-PCPs) extends I-PCP applications to a larger set of candidate wells. The I-PCP anchor allows an I-PCP to be run, landed, operated, and removed from a tubing string in the absence of a previously installed pump-seating nipple (PSN) typically required for installation.
Conventional PCPs are installed by running the stator assembly on the bottom of the tubing string and the rotor on the bottom of the rod string. In contrast, with an I-PCP, the entire pump assembly is installed by the rod string and landed inside the tubing string. This allows the pump to be pulled and rerun by the rod string. The primary advantage of this system is the elimination of costly and time-consuming tubing pulls to change worn or damaged pumps or to switch to different pump sizes and configurations as downhole pumping requirements change.
I-PCPs are conventionally installed with a PSN in the tubing string and a corresponding set of seating rings in the pump assembly. While this method provides a reliable method of landing, it also requires that the PSN be originally installed and it limits the positioning of the pump to the associated pump-seating location.
Weatherford’s Flexisert I-PCP anchor is an installation method that does not require a PSN to be in place. The impetus for the anchor’s development was the recompletion of depleted offshore gas lift wells to PCP systems. The anchor makes this possible because it allows the gas lift system to be left in place while inserting the new anchor.
In general application, the I-PCP anchor allows I-PCPs to be run in wells that are not equipped with a PSN, or where the PSN is at the wrong location or has specifications that are unknown. The anchor system also provides an artificial-lift option to reactivate old wells without pulling the tubing.
The Offshore Technology Conference (OTC) selected 12 new technologies for 2014 Spotlight on New Technology Awards. The annual awards program recognizes innovative technologies and allows companies to show the latest advances in offshore exploration and production (E&P). Following are this year’s award recipients, listed alphabetically.
The SPE Applied Technology Workshop on “Artificial Lift Systems: Get the Maximum from Your Wells” was held 24–27 November 2013 in Phuket, Thailand. The workshop attracted 80 participants representing 32 organizations and 14 countries.
As oil and gas fields are depleted, artificial lift systems are often required to maintain delivery volumes and to maximize recovery. To handle adverse conditions, such as high-viscosity oil, high water cut, sand, low-reservoir pressures, high temperatures, low-productivity wells, and high-angle wells, special artificial lift systems may be required.
This workshop discussed state-of-the- art artificial lift technologies. Engineers from operating and service companies shared their field experience with artificial lift issues, such as operational efficiency, reliability, maintenance, cost, and extensibility, and also discussed their innovative solutions. An interactive session allowed participants to use the information presented and share their expertise and experience to select an artificial lift system for a sample well.
The following advances in artificial lift were discussed:
Participants shared a variety of field experience:
Young Technology Showcase
Fiber optic pressure and temperature (P/T) sensing technology for multizone fracturing and production monitoring is enabled by a new feed-through (FT) technology that integrates the optical fiber within the multiple elastomer elements of a compact, swellable openhole packer system to achieve competent zonal isolation.
It is important that a continuous length of optical fiber be installed across the multiple zones isolated by the swellable packer system. Splicing the fiber is problematic because the process is time c4onsuming, and the splice point degrades faster than uncut fiber. Over time, the splice presents a weak point that can limit system life. This is compounded in long, multizone completions that may require as many as 40 isolation points along the well.
Weatherford’s Fraxsis FT technology facilitates deployment of continuous lengths of optical fiber across multiple zones as part of a modular packer system made up of short (24-in.) swellable elastomer sections that provide high-pressure zonal isolation. The FT technology is also a key enabler in the development of a faster, spoolable fiber deployment capability.
Fiber optic monitoring of a fracture stimulation and the resulting production across every stage of the completion provides engineers with the information to improve stimulation and completion design, and optimize production over the life of the well. The FT technology enables fiber-optic monitoring using a proven packer technology that achieves high-pressure zonal isolation with a much shorter inflatable element, which reduces packer stiffness and makes the system easier to run.
The FT packer design is based on a modular approach that uses single or multiple swellable elastomer elements to create isolation points for the completion (Fig. 1). Each element incorporates a proprietary metal backup system to achieve a higher pressure rating with less than half the length of a conventional swellable packer.
The metal backup system expands concurrently with the elastomer to prevent extrusion of the rubber element and form a higher pressure seal. Depending on the completion’s pressure requirements, 24-in. elastomer sections are added to the packer system to achieve 1,500 psi (one element), 3,000 psi (two), and higher-pressure specifications. As a result, the technology allows a packer only 7 ft long to seal up to 5,000 psi with the same hole-conformance of traditional swellable packers.
The Technical Aspects of Waterflooding workshop held 23 October in Long Beach, California, was the first SPE event to involve both live participants and members participating around the world through a real-time video feed. The workshop drew more than 70 participants from various companies and organizations, including Occidental, Signal Hill Petroleum, Berry Petroleum, Santa Maria Energy, Termo, Spec Services, the California State Lands Commission, SPE board members, and students from the University of Southern California and California State University of Long Beach. The workshop was held by the SPE Los Angeles Section and the one-day live webinar by SPE. Following are highlights from the workshop.
When Water and Oil Mix by Abbas Firoozabadi
Water and oil sometimes mix due to formation of certain structures known as emulsions, small droplets of water in oil or small droplets of oil in water that add surfactants.
Waterflood Management and Surveillance by Ganesh Thakur
This presentation illustrated how practical application of surveillance and monitoring principles are key to understanding reservoir performance and identifying opportunities that can improve oil production and ultimate oil recovery.
Waterflooding Process and Design by Abdus Satter
Waterflooding as a process is the most widely used post-primary recovery method in the United States and contributes substantially to current production and reserves.
Waterflood on a Chip by Baldev S. Gill
Microfluidics are used to displace one phase with another in a water-wet prefabricated microchip and the displacement can be seen under a microscope.
Young Technology Showcase
Determining the fluid properties of a reservoir by using pressure/volume/ temperature (PVT) analysis is essential to petroleum reservoir studies, production equipment design, and reservoir recovery efficiency estimation. The properties of the formation fluid are used to determine reserves and to predict reservoir performance and economics. PVT properties such as bubblepoint pressure, gas/oil ratio, viscosity, oil formation volume factor, and detailed composition are important to well performance analysis, material balance calculations, reservoir simulation, and production engineering calculations.
Once the reservoir information is available, the well team makes the critical field development decisions. Conventional post-well wireline formation testing operations can delay decision making for days, sometimes months, depending upon the logistics involved in transporting a sample from the wellsite to a PVT laboratory. Additionally, wireline deployment is expensive in horizontal and highly deviated wells because of the extra time and equipment required to convey the tools to the test intervals.
The latest logging-while-drilling (LWD) technology integrates downhole fluid analysis and sampling with formation pressure while drilling (FPWD), thereby providing environmental, economic, time-saving, and data quality benefits over traditional methods of reservoir characterization. The integration enables three distinct services: real-time formation pressure tests, real-time in-situ measurements of fluid properties, and downhole capture and retrieval to the surface of fluid samples.
The real-time formation pressure testing provides important information on fluid dynamics within the reservoir, mobility measurements, and zone productivity predictions. It is also important for accurate gradient analysis. Measuring multiple formation pressures at different depths delivers a formation fluid gradient that makes it possible to find contact points between different formation fluids such as water, gas, and oil. Pressure testing in an LWD environment also provides important information for safety and drilling optimization, including data that are valuable for controlling hydraulic overbalance and equivalent circulating density.
Representative fluid samples provide information on the production potential of the reservoir. LWD fluid analysis and sampling enables fluids samples to be collected closer to in-situ conditions for a more accurate determination of fluid composition. Additionally, sample integrity can be monitored continually from the first time the sample enters the LWD tool until it is transferred to the laboratory for detailed analysis. Greater accuracy improves project cycle times and reduces development risks.
Although the vital information provided by the integrated LWD service is useful throughout the life cycle of a reservoir, it is particularly valuable during the initial assessment to determine the commercial potential of a project. The assessment includes estimates for producibility, fluid type and composition, fluid phase behavior, production facility design, and flow assurance.