World energy demand is increasing. The next trillion barrels will be harder to access, harder to find and will be in ever smaller accumulations. New discoveries will undoubtedly be more difficult to produce and will have to be done with fewer and dwindling experienced resources.
The industry has begun to accept change due to their desired demand for improved efficiencies. These efficiencies include integrating the workforce (both service and operating groups), improving quality and efficiency of workflows, and improving the technologies that are feeding into the "Digital Asset™" service. Such technologies are better formation evaluation measurements, better geological models, and faster reservoir simulators, better able to integrate production data for comparison to the geological models. Connecting people and improving technology and workflows allow the right decisions to be made at the right time while spending the least amount of effort.
Today, necessity drives new and more dynamic integrated operations; and more efficient working relationships are evolving. This paper will discuss the challenge of doing more with less, exploiting more difficult reserves while lowering costs, increasing profits while reducing risk, and speeding up work processes while cutting non productive time.
The answers lie with in a series of steps towards cultural change: utilizing real-time collaborative environments allowing simple workflow methodologies to be applied and feeding improved measurements into improved models while continuous optimization occurs while simultaneously actual operations occur.
While there is currently significant debate as to the future of oil demand, the consensus is that the current crisis will be relatively short-lived and that oil demand will return to moderate growth globally. The demand for energy as a whole will follow this same pattern. Although other forms of energy will be brought on line at varying times and intensities, none are expected to have a significant impact for the next 20–35 years. Studies suggest that currently 70% of the world's oilfields are greater than 30 years old, and the replacement rate is slightly less than 2% per year. Finding, developing, producing and refining of oil will remain a significant part of our lives for the next quarter century.
We as an industry are entering a new age characterized by new and innovative ways of finding and developing reserves. Operators and service companies are identifying opportunities to do more with less and to establish the best and right time decisions for finding, planning, drilling and completing wells /fields today.
Recently published industry data suggest the median age of geo-scientist, petroleum engineers and geologists is between 48 and 50. New geo-science entrants to the industry peaked in the early 90's and the number has reached a plateau. The industry is not hiring enough individuals to fill the seats of the aging subject matter experts who will be retiring in the next dozen years, although some will continue working in some capacity as contractors in the industry. We are also facing challenges with reduction of bed space for offshore installations while having to deliver expertise to more rigs with fewer expert resources. These remarks assume that the reductions in force and rig count are short-lived. However, if the low energy demand cycle is long-lived, the reduced workforce and reduced rig counts will call for a still greater need for improved efficiencies.
The industry will undoubtedly have to adopt better ways to find, drill, complete, and produce hydrocarbon reservoirs. The industry has choices in how prospects are generated, how assets are developed, and how to drill and complete, while evaluating the risk compared to the financial outcome of producing fields to their maximum potential. Note that the choices are not limited to the drilling process but includes formation evaluation, prospect generation, and development of the prospect, monitoring drilling, running and design of bits, fluids, stimulation, completions, and intervention — in other words all aspects of well construction, placement, completion and production processes.