Petroleum Geology of North West Europe conference, London

Alternative activity (lithium, CO2 EOR, geothermal) for oil wells and geologists caught in the downturn. AGR Tracs’ ‘disposable’ grids. BP on redeployable 4D seismics.

The Petroleum geology of north west Europe conference held in London earlier this year heard some interesting ideas from Jon Gluyas (University of Durham, UK) on alternative activities suitable for the geologist stuck in the downturn. Gluyas takes inspiration from the ‘upcycling’ movement whereby discarded objects or material are reused to create a product of higher value than the original. What does the oil industry throw away? Pore fluids, produced water and solutes and heat. Global estimates of produced water range from 10-40 billion tonnes. Some is reinjected but most is disposed of at the surface. A lot of the water is hot. The North Sea Ninian field has a 30MW generating potential. Globally, there is up to 4 terawatts of power up for grabs.

Produced water is often seen an environmental problem but maybe we are missing something. Brines from Arkansas’ Smackover formation contain lithium, an increasingly important metal in today’s industry. Gluyas estimates that at much as 22,000 tonnes of Lithium are going to waste here. Lithium rich brines are present in the Paris basin and in Gluyas’ own County Durham. CO2 is another underutilized resource. Used to enhance recovery, CO2 has already added a billion barrels Texas’ production and has huge potential in the North Sea where ‘the seven most significant projects could deliver over a billion barrels of extra oil. Moreover, CO2-based oil and gas enhanced recovery ‘could reduce carbon emissions by about 10%.’

AGR Tracs’ Mark Bentley argued against current ‘grid centric’ workflows and in favor of ‘disposable grids’ and sedimentary process models as offered in tools such as Geomodeling’s Sbed and Paradigm’s GeoChron which represent ‘an elegant mathematical framework for sedimentary geology.’ Using ‘representative elementary volumes’ in non-sequential workflows will allow interpreters to iterate across seismics, petrophysics, static and dynamic models to address the ‘curse of the best guess’ by ‘modeling for discomfort.’

BP’s Mel Ball provided an update on the Clair field’s repeat seismic acquisition. The technology has evolved from a 2005 permanent array proof of concept to a re-deployable solution implemented in 2015. Redeployable is considered as the most cost effective way of achieving the desired receiver geometry, repeat frequency and variable areal coverage.

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