As the ITF Showcase kicks off in Aberdeen this week Dr Patrick O’Brien, chief executive of ITF, has taken up the role of Energy Voice’s guest editor. Follow along each day as he spells out the challenges and triumphs the industry faces.
Great leaps have been made in the imaging of hydrocarbons over recent years and it should therefore remain a top priority for technology developers after being named as one of the SPE’s five ‘Grand Challenges’.
Whilst exploration activity is being hindered by the low oil price and downturn, it would be dangerous to take an eye off the longer term. Investment in E&P programmes is still needed as well as in the technologies that can aid the discovery of new reserves and optimise recovery.
Seismic data today is produced in massive volumes, with more and higher quality 3D and 4D data being processed each year. Advanced computing capabilities permit construction of more detailed inversion models from the collection of high-quality datasets.
Improved acquisition technology is gathering new data in places previously beyond reach. New nanotechnologies offer great potential for improved subsurface imaging with advances in the fundamental sciences.
Several imaging technologies are emerging that can help to better target reserves, which will ultimately drive down the costs of exploration and production activity.
Improved reservoir characterisation is an area operators want to exploit, and the University of Leeds has responded with a new data visualisation software which can speed up this process whilst cutting costs. PETMiner improves understanding of controls on petrophysical properties, improves speed of data interpretation/analysis and allows the identification of best analogues in large databases.
The software today is solely applied to tight gas reservoirs but offers a flexible operating system that could potentially be adapted.
Imperial College London has a potentially game-changing project – Waterfront Imaging using Self Potential (WISP), which could allow imaging of waterfronts several tens to hundreds of meters away from an instrumented well.
ITF members have also been collaborating over a number of years on Imperial’s Fullwave Game Changer research project which has recently been extended for a further phase with a consortium of fifteen oil and gas operator and service companies.
Of course they wouldn’t have handed over what has amounted to around £7.5 million over the last nine years without some sort of return on that investment.
Project participants are bringing the technology in-house for their own reservoirs and can pinpoint significant capital savings on field appraisal projects through avoiding unnecessary and expensive drilling expenditure.
It’s the perfect example of collaboration at its best, showing how a long term relationship can deliver the results that industry is so keen to see.
It should give the technology development community the clear confidence that if they target efforts towards industry’s most pressing challenges, there is a willingness to share the costs.