Comments: Blood and Oil
- John Donnelly (JPT Editor)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- May 2010
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 16 - 16
- 2010. Society of Petroleum Engineers
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- 34 since 2007
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What do blood and oil have in common? Quite a bit, according to a group of medical and oil industry professionals who are exploring the technologies, research, synergies, and les-sons learned involved in pumping oil and pumping blood.
“We really do the same thing. We access targets, we try to maintain flow, and we are dealing with valves and pumping systems,” said Dr. Alan Lumsden, medical director of the Methodist DeBakey Heart and Vascular Center in describing that collaboration at last month’s 2010 SPE Intelligent Energy Conference in Utrecht, The Netherlands. Both professions face similar challenges and use similar techniques—they use imaging to identify targets, navigate drills or catheters into those targets, maintain smooth flow in pipelines and blood vessels, prevent tubes/pipes from clogging, and repair them when they fail.
Under the sponsorship of ExxonMobil, the Methodist DeBakey Center, and the University of Houston, three “Pumps & Pipes” forums have been held, in which representatives from medicine, the oil industry, and academia get together to dis-cuss ideas in common. The most recent event involved medical device manufacturers, vascular biologists, clinicians, computer scientists, physicists, geologists, and oil R&D specialists.
The goal of these meetings is to stimulate dialogue among leaders in the medical and oil fields that could lead to new ideas, and to discuss and share promising technologies. Medicine already has borrowed from several oil technologies and processes, including the use of pigs, robotics, drilling technology, computational fluid dynamics, and imaging, which has particular application to cardiovascular disease. The dynamic MRI scan used by surgeons was developed from software that a company created for the oil and gas industry for use in computational fluid dynamics. Medical professionals trying to prevent blockages and enlargements in blood vessels have borrowed from the oil industry’s idea of swellable elastometers. And at one of the forums, researchers examining how to prevent aneurysms gained new perspective of blood-flow dynamics from pipeline engineers who described how fluid dynamics can predict pipeline ruptures. Future discussions between oil and medical professionals are likely to focus on the use of robots, well imaging compared with intravascular imaging, and the use of nanotechnology in both industries.
The underlying premise is that the solutions faced by various industries may already exist in someone else’s tool box. The oil industry—as it relies more heavily on visualization and digitization technologies—also has begun looking at the video gaming industry for ideas. Knut-Olav Fjell, principal researcher with the Statoil Research Center in Trondheim, has been working with StormFjord, a company with expertise in gaming, on how to adapt technology elements from the gaming industry to E&P. Statoil has used gaming concepts in some projects, including simulating seabed pipelaying for the Ormen Lange project, in collaborative visualization, and in analyzing geophysical data. An added benefit is that such techniques are likely to be embraced by a younger generation of engineers who are intimately familiar with the technology.
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