PDM Interview - Ian Cheshire

PDM caught up with Ian Cheshire at the SPE this month. Cheshire, the ‘father’ of the Eclipse reservoir simulator is a Schlumberger Fellow and recipient of the SPE’s Anthony F. Lucas award for 2001.

PDM - What was the background to your work on the Eclipse simulator?

Cheshire - After a PhD in physics from Glasgow University, I worked with NASA, computing atomic particle trajectories before joining the UK Atomic Energy Authority (AEA) in Harwell. I was tasked with finding commercial uses for Harwell’s substantial computing resources. This led to the development of the Programmable Oil Reservoir Simulator (PORES) for the UK DOE, a project funded by Britoil and British Gas.

PDM - And how did Eclipse start out?

Cheshire—I met Ted Daniels (owner of Exploration Consultants Ltd.) and began work, along with AEA colleagues John Appleyard and Jon Holmes in 1980. ECL’s Implicit Program for Simulation Engineering (Eclipse) was rolled out to its 3 first clients (in Australia! - BHP, Santos and Woodside) in 1983.

PDM - We remember the early marketing effort that ECL put into Eclipse, how quickly did it take off commercially?

Cheshire - The Eclipse brochures and newsletters first caught Statoil’s eye. They had a problem with a horizontal well on the Snorre field which ours competitors couldn’t handle. Eclipse did, after we had burnt the midnight oil working on horizontal well extensions. Subsequently, Statoil provided much input into Eclipse’s development, to the extent that Eclipse became a ‘Norwegian product,’ with further sales to the NPD and Saga. The North Sea, with very high well costs, was a good environment for reservoir simulation. Oil and gas companies wanted quantitative results before development drilling.

PDM - What differentiates Eclipse in the marketplace?

Cheshire - Eclipse’s initial success was due to its ‘fully implicit’ computation technology. Many of our competitors are only now going implicit. Today, our success is due to Eclipse’s fast numerical efficiency. Our substantial investment in R&D has added on average two new features per year. ECL’s geological consulting business has helped too, bringing the simulator closer to geology.

PDM - We have been seeking signs at the SPE of the integration of time lapse seismics with reservoir simulation—without much success so far?

Cheshire - Schlumberger has being doing a lot of work in this area - particularly with Eclipse’s SimOpt history matching module. This now features 4D seismic matching.

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