Computers-Black Box Or Tool Box?
- Louis Mattar (Fekete Associates Inc.)
- Document ID
- Petroleum Society of Canada
- Journal of Canadian Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- March 1997
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 1997. Petroleum Society of Canada
- 5.1.5 Geologic Modeling, 5.4.1 Waterflooding, 5.5.4 Visualization Technologies, 5.6.4 Drillstem/Well Testing
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The, theme of this issue is "Computer Applications." Accordingly, it isbefitting to comment on the effect that this technology has had on ourpetroleum industry. As I am preparing this editorial, I reminisce about aChristmas 21 years ago, when my wife bought me a calculator (programmable) for$1,000! Today, its equivalent does ten times more for one tenth the price! AsRobert Cringila said: "If the automobile had followed the same developmentcycle as the computer, a Rolls Royce would cost $100 today, get a million milesper gallon and explode once year, killing everyone inside." So, what has thismind-boggling silicon chip done to improve the oil and gas industry inAlberta?
Of course, today, the first thing one talks about at coffee is the Internet.Yes, both the post office and the telephone companies are on their way toextinction! There are singing Christmas cards (messages) I could have e-mailedall over the world, at no cost (and donated the savings to the food bank). ButI am told, the Internet is not only transistory, it is also transitory. Itwon't be long before it is replaced by some form of Globalnet in whichtelevision, radio, telephone, computing etc., are all one amorphoustelecommunications ganglia (cellular phones will be replaced by implants inyour ear, and who knows, TV and computer screens by LCD colour retina chips).But, "with the sound of sugar plum fairies dancing in my head" am I beingcarried away by the spirit of Christmas?
The graphics technology of video games has been implemented in computerprograms for reservoir visualization. We can integrate seismic images,petrophysical logs and geological models to build a 3-D picture of ourreservoir-slice it, dice it, rotate it, look inside and monitor the rate ofadvance of a water flood, or determine the regions of unswept oil for infilldrilling (in 64 million colours). It is very easy, and tempting to spend moretime "playing" with our computer programs than "studying the problem."Presentation has taken over from technical content-sad but true. Have computersimproved our productivity? In the areas of automation, communications androbotics, clearly yes. In many other areas, our efficiency has decreased. Onestudy shows that the average document goes through a word processor thirteentimes before it is completed! Today, we can learn more and more about less andless, and it is easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees. We can measure100,000 pressures with electronic gauges, at one-second intervals, withunprecedented accuracy, in an attempt to define our reservoir which, in fact,is being modelled as a simplistic homogeneous box-a little overkill, don't youthink?
If I had a Hammer
When we have a new tool (toy) that we like, it tends to dominate our thinking.If I have a hammer, suddenly everything looks like a nail! When the concept ofdual porosity was first introduced, many reservoir models "became" dualporosity overnight.
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