Society of Petroleum Engineers 2006 ATCE

The digital oilfield is as much concerned about enabling hardware, like recording instrumentation and control systems, as it is with computer modeling. Exxon reported on its 28 year experience of permanent downhole gauges and Kinder Morgan on smart well control of a CO2 flood. David Deaton (Halliburton) reported on the Real Time Optimization technical interest group’s automation benchmark study. Most vendors are too busy to be producing much in the way of new tools. But we spotted a newcomer of note in NumericalRocks. Another Norwegian organization, EPSIS, has been working on a data drill down and visualization to monitor work on Chevron’s San Ardo ‘i-field.’ The SPE is addressing the manpower problem with a ‘Young Professionals’ mentoring program and is putting distinguished lecturers presentations online, significantly reducing its carbon footprint!

SPE 2006 President Eve Sprunt noted that high oil prices have aggravated the notion that we are ‘running out of oil.’ Record profits have placed the industry under intense scrutiny. To counterbalance public ‘misconceptions,’ Sprunt suggests that members take it upon themselves to talk to friends about the industry’s image, ‘providing facts to friends, neighbors and their own families about the positive contributions that our industry makes to our everyday lives.’ The SPE is helping with a new Energy Information Committee headed by former SPE President DeAnn Craig. The EIC will supply members with the ‘latest facts and tools’ to communicate with the public.

People problem (1)

The SPE is addressing manpower issues with the Young Professionals Programs which has so far matched over 570 mentors and ‘mentees.’ Along with the new website, the SPE is working on ‘One Petro,’ which will allow users to download papers from several industry organizations and is putting (a few) of its Distinguished Lecturers’ presentations online. Plans are afoot to hold the SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition in Europe in 2010.


2007 President Jaleel Al-Khalifa likewise addressed the human resources question. People are ‘overloaded with work.’ Industry is also stretching technology as we go into deeper water and to marginal fields. It’s time for SPE to react to these challenges with ‘quantum leaps in people and technology.’ To try to answer these questions the SPE is planning a summit for industry leaders in 2007 and is to launch a quarterly magazine, ‘Talent and Technology.’


Marathon CEO Clarence Cazalot described today’s ‘changing times‘. It is an ‘indisputable fact’ that energy demand is to grow dramatically especially from developing nations. World population is growing at quarter of a million people more every 24 hours. Today the world uses 230 mm boe. This is to rise to 285 mm boe by 2020 with 80% in developing countries. Exxon forecasts oil & gas as providing 60% of this in 2020.


Cazalot’s first critical challenge is resource access. While there are ‘more than ample’ supplies worldwide, most are controlled by host governments and NOCs. Saudi Aramco is investing ‘many billion dollars,’ but others are ‘not keeping up.’ High prices have led to ‘economic nationalism’ and aggressive new NOC competitors with ‘state to state advantages.’ There will also likely be more vertical integration. All of which is affecting costs of everything—from seismics to refining.

People problem (2)

Turning to the ‘people problem,’ Cazalot opined that, ‘Early retirement was a bad idea. Now Marathon is bringing back the boomers.’ But this will just buy a few years. So Marathon is giving older workers the time and incentive to train and mentor youngsters.

Value of information

Michael Prange (Schlumberger-Doll) compared the NPV of a project with and without an additional measurement—to quantify the value of information (VOI) such as a log run or seismic survey. VOIs can be negative. Prange’s example showed a field with a possible oil rim and indications of a possibly non-sealing fault. The question was, ‘where to place the injector, north or south of the fault?’ A logging service might answer the question. NPV formulae and decision trees were made for the two cases. The mean NPV model says drill N. But Monte Carlo runs show a spread of values offering better support in answering the question, ‘do we buy the measurement?’ In the ensuing Q&A, Shell’s Mike Odell commented that the trouble with this kind of analysis was ‘you never get the answer you wanted from an experiment!’ Prange could only agree, ‘No, you never get perfect information.’

Reservoir surveillance

David Chorneyko described ExxonMobil’s (XOM) vision of combining data from real time sources including drilling, surface acquisition, 4D seismic and downhole data from permanent pressure gauges (PDHG) and use it all to build models for surveillance, risk mitigation and to maximize production. EXOM’s permanent downhole gauge (PDHG) inventory has risen from 20 in 1990 to 1000 in 2005 (about 6% of total operated well inventory today).

Artificial lift

The majority of PDHGs are used in artificial lift optimization, providing information on pump performance as well as on the reservoir. Chorneyko showed a plot of ‘survival probability’ of a PDHG population showing how reliability increases with each generation of pump—‘infant mortality’ is decreasing with time.

Data management

Data management is ‘a great concern’ and EXOM has issued guidelines for data storage and interfaces. EXOM is a member of the PRODML initiative and is keen to ensure that this remains an ‘open, non proprietary format.’ PDHGs are a valuable resource, ‘there’s a wealth of information encoded in measurements that we are not yet understanding or exploiting.’

Smart wells in EOR

Joshua Brnak described the use of CO2 injection and smart well technology to enhance oil recovery from Kinder Morgan’s Kelly-Snyder field in Texas. Smart well technology is used to mitigate CO2 breakthrough via permanent downhole gauges, interval control valves, packers and control line umbilicals for actuation. The system monitors and controls drawdown and fluid production, distributing CO2 between zones for stimulation and clean up. The future will include ‘hi res choking’ of injectors and producers. Fine tuning is now in progress and Brnak sees a ‘great future for the technology.’

Benchmarking automation

David Deaton (Halliburton) presented results from a survey commissioned by the SPE Real Time technical Interest Group. A survey of ten leading oil and gas producers found ‘inconsistent and/or isolated application of production measurement and automation.’ Applications were driven by individuals or assets in an ad-hoc manner. There was little sharing of lessons learned beyond the asset level. Full benefits of the investment were rarely captured throughout the asset lifecycle and in general there was a sense of ‘having to do something about production measurement and automation.’


A paper by BP’s MJ Watson described the use of ‘Maximus,’ an in-house developed integrated asset management tool that was used in the ‘concept selection’ phase of the Angola Block 18 Western Area Development, 30km west of the Greater Plutonia FPSO. The paper (SPE 101826) provides a detailed description of the design process.


NumericalRocks was spun out of Statoil in 2005, following 8 years of development. Starting with a thin section of core, NumericalRocks builds a 3D rock model of around one billion voxels at a resolution of 1-3 microns. Models are built by modeling sedimentological processes and compaction. Once digitized, NumericalRocks’ technology allows for ‘geobody’ extraction à la GeoProbe and mapping of the pore network to show connectivity. Other computations extend to single/multiphase flow properties and numerical special core analysis (SCAL) for capillary pressure and relative permeability.

Spotfire DXP

A new ‘DXP’ edition of Spotfire’s Decision Site targets non expert users (DecisionSite ‘classic’ is still available for power users). We watched a demo using data from the BP Statistical Review. This data was vigorously sliced and diced to show energy use by country—aggregating and/or breaking out data onto tabs, or displayed as bubble maps. A ‘Dynamic Expression’ shows year over year change. Spreadsheets can be locked down to a ‘dashboard’ for simplified use by executives and a DXP Player can be used to distribute results.

Project Accelerator

Digital Oilfield’s ProjectAccelerator PA is a web-based, collaborative environment that provides in-house users and suppliers with access to critical project information both inside and outside the firewall. As projects evolve, PA updates project timelines and schedules. PA is used in bid preparation, request to drill, well planning and workovers.

Real Time Assistant

Norwegian EPSIS’ Real Time Assistant (ERA) for oilfield operations is used by Chevron to schedule crew operations on its Californian San Ardo ‘i-Field.’The oilfield data visualization system provides ‘one button click though’ to visualize individual work processes. A time-based display of crews’ progress helps identify and fix scheduling conflicts.


The latest release of ScienceSoft’s S3 Graph 3D now supports big models on 32 bit Microsoft Windows. This is achieved using vertex compression and DirectX 3D graphics. ScienceSoft were also showing an extraordinary new glasses-free 3D ‘autostereo’ display from Sharp. A stereo monitor costs around $450, the technology is also available on the Sharp PC-AL3DU laptop at around $2800.

Golden Eagle

Golden Eagle’s Sim-Office can now generate 3D, 4D or 2D seismic response from reservoir simulations. Sim-Office provides interactive reservoir model editing/ranking, mismatch analysis and history matching. By matching observed seismic attributes with synthetic attributes from reservoir models, Sim-Office provides a powerful way to apply seismic data for enhanced oil & gas recovery and dynamic data integration. Interactive model update can be performed by pen, brush or layer/polygon-based modes. Mismatch analyes can be overlain with reservoir parameter models and embedded or commercial simulators can be launched from within the application.

PDHG data logger

Kappa’s new Diamant Master data logger processes permanent downhole gauge (PDHG) and production data. Raw PDHG data is mirrored for fast access from the data historian into the Diamant Master machine. Wavelet processing reduces the number of data points and stores only relevant shut-ins (high frequency) for pressure transient analysis and producing pressures (low frequency) for production analysis and history matching. Diamant Master interfaces with Kappa’s Ecrin dynamic flow interpretation platform.

Real Time Model

Olga 5 is the latest version of ScandPower’s flagship steady state and dynamic network modeler/flow assurance package. Olga models oil, water and gas flow in wells, pipelines and receiving facilities. Olga’s real time dynamic models can forecast out to 2 hours. Olga 5 has a new interface designed for non specialist users. Fluids can be either fully compositional or described through compositionally based look-up tables. A tracking module allows for detailed tracking of individual components like hydrate inhibitors.

Tecplot RS 2007

Tecplot RS offers visual analysis and comparison of reservoir simulation and observed data. The 2007 release integrates XY graphing with 2D and 3D grid visualization into one application. Display options include historical rate data, RFT and well pressure data. Supported reservoir and streamline simulators include Eclipse, VIP, FrontSim and 3DSL.

This article has been taken from a 17 page illustrated report produced by The Data Room’s Technology Watch program. More information and sample reports from

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