PESGB—PETEX 2008 ‘focus on the future’

UK Minister, ‘if banks don’t play ball, tell me.’ Brent reservoir surveillance, co-visualization and infrastructure-led E&P.

Despite the economic climate, the 2008 Petex Conference held in London late last year had a record turnout just short of 3,000. A keynote by Dave Campbell, BP’s VP for North Sea ‘renewal’ noted that the North Sea still has some 25 billion barrels to play for and is still very much a part of BP’s plans. On the IT/IM front, Cambell vaunted BP’s 3 highly immersive visualization environments (HIVE) and 11 advanced collaborative environments (ACE). The ACE provides remote engineers with real time interaction with offshore platforms over fiber optic networks that are shared by other operators.

UK Energy Minister Mike O’Brien noted that oil and gas is central to energy needs representing one sixth of UK industrial investment and some 450,000 jobs. O’Brien wants banks to sustain oil and gas investments. If the banks don’t play ball, the UK government wants to know about it! The government is also working to ‘make the environment right for industry.’

Senergy’s James McCullen noted that ‘finding smaller fields demands the same amount of equipment as larger fields,’ that exploration is getting harder and the cost of discovery is increasing. Development costs are up to around $25 per barrel. Capex rose during the days of high oil prices as ‘we got lazy, nobody questioned performance—now we must focus on the essentials.’

Dynamic Graphics’ Brian Lynch gave a spectacular presentation in the 3D Visualization Theatre showing how 4 D visual data fusion can enhance reservoir management. Dynamic Graphics’ ‘co-visualization’ toolset was put to good effect blending multi-discipline data including 4D time lapse seismics and real time data. Reservoir simulation grids, color coded wells, logs, core photos were pulled on screen in a compelling demonstration spanning micro to macro scales. Lynch made a good case for the use of multi discipline data visualization and analysis of complex data relationships.

Rob Lee presented Shell’s Brent Field surveillance program. This was implemented to maximize recovery prior to decommissioning a decade or so from now. A greatly increased surveillance program has shown that reservoir dynamics can be very unpredictable. Traditional ‘rule of thumb’ approaches to well intervention and forecasting are simply not good enough. ‘Monitoring is everything.’ Cased hole log data interpretation and intimate knowledge of reservoir properties and dynamics are required. A specialized skill set that is ‘a scarce commodity within surveillance teams in the industry.’

Mark McAllister (Fairfield) presented another keynote from the view point of relative newcomer (the UK independent is three years old). McAllister recommends ‘putting assets into the hands of those who are willing and able to invest,’ Many small companies are willing but not able! For Fairfield, it’s not about reducing costs, it is all about reserve optimization through ‘subsurface excellence.’ Here ‘there are no short cuts.’ A strong seismic understanding is required. Assets are modeled in Petrel along with full field Eclipse simulations. ‘Infrastructure led’ exploration is a necessity, but ‘geoscience is the core of what we do.’

Deirdre O’Donnell (Working Smart) noted that with the retiring baby-boomers, 50% of E&P staff in the UK will be leaving in the next ten years. Oil and gas is losing the competition for geoscientists. Not because of a shortage of graduates, but more because of bad press about oil running out. The global oil industry does not have a consolidated public relations machine counteracting the Greens’ arguments!

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