The ability to deliver oil production capacity by 2040 will highly depend on availability of strategic competencies to support the timely and reliably development of non-conventional oil fields that require intensive application of improved oil recovery technologies throughout all stages of the field life cycle. This paper presents a practical approach for identification, definition and measurement of strategic competencies required to develop and produce non-conventional heavy and extra heavy oil assets.

An activity-based strategic competency model was developed considering a typical heavy oil project with 94 activities organized in 7 field life cycle phases: 1) Data acquisition for uncertainty reduction, 2) static modeling, 3) dynamic modeling, 4) field development planning, 5) well and facilities engineering, 6) execution and 7) operations and monitoring. Each phase undergoes activities with relative duration followed by decision gates with relative contribution of technical disciplines grouped in functions. Ranges of weights in percentages and duration in months are calibrated using analog fields or typical projects, as input for stochastic modeling to account for uncertainty.

The application to non-conventional heavy and extra heavy oil fields in Kuwait, allowed identification of 55 technical competencies classified under 12 functional competency groups under four major categories: Subsurface-reservoir, subsurface-well, surface facilities & production operations and asset integration & planning. These technical competencies were mapped with three scenarios for intensity of work: minimum (low), medium (likely) and maximum (full) to conduct critical activities on annual basis during the 7 phases of the heavy oil field life cycle. Local experience in Kuwait as well as worldwide analog for heavy oil development provided foundation to validate strategic competencies and to calibrate the model, and then used as strategic workforce planning tool to support the preparation of heavy oil project proposals. The model also allowed for stochastic modeling of person-hours and total cost of the work force, including the associated competency development and assurance costs, which shall be included in both Capital and Operational Expenditures as part of the economic model for evaluation of heavy oil development opportunities.

The presented approach is a practical project-planning tool for mapping all required competencies and intensity of work force for more reliable Front End Loading (definition) of heavy oil field development business plans or for existing fields undergoing operations. The phased model allows easier planning and flexibility to conduct exercises with estimates of work force for a range of potential business scenarios.

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