Options are Running Out - Today's Youth Needs Convincing
- Chris Hopkins (Schlumberger Data & Consulting Services)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- March 2009
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 40 - 42
- 2009. Copyright is retained by the author. This document is distributed by SPE with the permission of the author. Contact the author for permission to use material from this document.
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Talent & Technology
Recently, I was part of the SPE Colloquium on Petroleum Engineering Education, an event comprising academia and industry professionals assembled to address the issue of personnel recruitment and training in the oil and gas industry. Representatives of international universities, major and independent operators, and the service and supply industry took on the challenge of answering the burning question, “How are we going to identify, recruit, hire, and train the professional employees we need for the future?”
Facing the Hard Facts
Forecasts vary, but some estimates indicate that production from existing fields will decline from current levels of around 75 million B/D to approximately 15 million B/D by 2030. To meet anticipated demand, production will need to be approximately 115 million B/D or higher. How will we fill the gap? Most will come from new exploration and development of known reserves, the remainder from enhanced-oil-recovery (EOR) techniques and unconventional sources such as heavy oil or shale oil. But getting oil from these sources will require concentration on trained people, optimized processes, and innovative technology.
Technology has kept pace through the years, allowing us to access reservoirs in more than 10,000 ft (3049 m) of water, drill extended-reach wells as far as 7.6 miles from the surface location and geosteer through thin sections of less than 10 ft (3.1 m) for more than a mile. Innovative use of technology has also helped advance industry achievements. Today, thousands of wells are equipped with monitoring systems that allow automatic 24-hour production surveillance with data transmission to a central production-management facility. This allows operators to manage by exception, focusing on problem wells instead of poring over spreadsheets of data on wells that are performing normally. New automated workflows provide operators with actionable information instead of raw data taking seismic all the way to simulation. These workflows can condense geological interpretation time from 3 years to 6 months (Fig. 1).
Although technology and workflow processes are providing the leverage to accomplish some of the demand, these two alone are not strong enough to support the industry. We must have well-trained people.
The ObstaclesBased on a benchmark survey conducted by Schlumberger Business Consulting (SBC) of 30 companies, the long feared “big crew change” is upon us and we are not recruiting the numbers to meet this need. At the present time, we are meeting demand with 40% of the geology and geophysics graduates entering the oil and gas industry (Fig. 2). But to meet the future demand, SBC has estimated that 80% of students would have to go into petroleum geology. Currently students are going into mining, hydrology, or environmental work. Many graduates in geophysics study earthquakes, volcanoes, or get into soil and rock mechanics for the construction industry.
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