The field development phase prior to investment sanction is characterized by relatively large uncertainties at the time important decisions have to be made. It is, for instance, crucial to select an appropriate recovery strategy (depletion or injection) to obtain optimal hydrocarbon cumulative production whilst ensuring good profitability of the project. Evaluation of reservoir as well as economic uncertainties and quantification of their impact are needed before the field development concept selection.
This paper describes how to stochastically assess reservoir and economic uncertainties and the screening process used to select the best recovery strategy. The chosen methodology is the combination of uncertainty studies, including both continuous, discrete and controllable parameters. The different screened scenarios are combined in a stochastic decision tree, built-up through decision and chance nodes, to establish a distribution of recoverable volumes and rank the recovery strategies given a chosen criterion. A second uncertainty study is performed by adding economic uncertainties to the initial set of reservoir uncertain parameters. Eventually a new decision tree is established and scenarios ranked using economic criteria.
The application of this methodology to an oil field from the Norwegian continental shelf and how recovery strategies are ranked are presented in this paper. The described methodology has exhibited the risks and uncertainties carried by the project, as it was possible to rank the different solutions based on the dispersion of the recoverable volumes distribution and/or on the net present value (NPV). In the context of a marginal or large capex project, a robust P90 case is required and this may therefore influence the choice of the recovery strategy. For instance, a scenario yielding the largest hydrocarbon volume may not be selected because it requires too many wells and/or too large investment if one of these criteria is defined as the most important. In addition, the combination of uncertainty studies enabled a full economic evaluation covering the entire recoverable volumes distribution whereas in many projects economic evaluation is focused on the P90, Mean and P10 scenarios.
The two-step integrated approach allows a decision to be made whilst taking into account both reservoir and economic aspects. Having a combined stochastic approach to the reservoir and economic uncertainties avoids a biased decision. All cases are stochastically covered and screened using a systematic and unified methodology that gives the same weight to each scenario.