Rapid Evaluation of Development Ideas has Engineers Thinking: What If?
- Stephen Rassenfoss (JPT Emerging Technology Senior Editor)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- August 2018
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 39 - 41
- 2018. Copyright is held partially by SPE. Contact SPE for permission to use material from this document.
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The program has evolved from predicting future well output to showing engineers the many ways their ideas could affect asset performance, including a feature often missing from engineering software, instant estimates of the likely cost and return of each option considered.
“As Range was developing the Marcellus, they knew their teams of engineers and geologists were being creative and effective, but as the volume of data and number of databases grew, so did the painstaking job of merging and manipulating data.
One of the things that struck me about a year ago was that engineers were coming to me with ideas, with more thoughts and creative solutions than a year or two before,” said Ken Brown, Vice President of Reservoir Engineering for Range’s Appalachian Division. The independent operator is primarily focused on the Marcellus, where production is mostly natural gas and NGLs.
Automation has given engineers more time to think. “Because of the sheer volume of data, we were spending an enormous amount of time on a routine task, thus reducing the time available for critical thinking,” he said.
The new tools allow the team to quickly determine if ideas, that might otherwise be viewed as long shots, are actually worth pursuing. Each idea is evaluated based on a variety of measures, including widely used financial performance metrics.
The Range system relies on what computers do well, keep track of more variables and how they interact than a human can in real time. And it can offer alternatives. As a result, Brown said, “it might provide you with options you have not thought of before.”
For example, the analysis may point out that rather than drilling and completing a five-well pad, it would be better to drill four wells and use the proppant that would have been used in the fifth well to more intensely fracture the other four wells.
The program can quickly predict how production would be affected by various versions of that approach, as well as how that would affect the costs and returns on the investment.
If increasing proppant by a significant amount improves recoveries and returns, what if we add even more? Setting up that simulation would take less than 5 minutes, said Matt Ockree, Senior Reservoir Engineer for Range who is the liaison to Novi, the company developing the software.
Convincing analysis generated quickly greatly enhances the consideration of ideas that require changes in the operation, and people’s habits.
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