R&D Grand Challenges - Reviewing the Five R&D Grand Challenges Plus One
- Arnis Judzis (Schlumberger) | Anoop Poddar (Energy Ventures)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- September 2012
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 69 - 73
- 2012. 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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R&D Grand Challenges - This is the last in a series of articles on the great challenges facing the oil and gas industry as outlined by the SPE R&D Committee. The R&D Grand Challenges Series, comprising articles published in JPT during 2011 and 2012. The R&D Grand Challenges Series, comprising articles published in JPT during 2011 and 2012, is available as a collection on OnePetro (SPE-163061-JPT).
In May 2011, the SPE R&D Committee kicked off a series of guest articles in JPT to highlight the oil and gas industry’s major research and development (R&D) challenges. Defining these challenges is important because the committee’s primary goal is to encourage R&D and promote dialog between industry and research groups with the aim of matching industry needs with R&D activities.
The R&D challenges comprise five broad upstream business needs plus the environment:
- Increasing recovery factors
- In-situ molecular manipulation
- Carbon capture and sequestration
- Produced water management
- Higher resolution subsurface imaging of hydrocarbons
Why Have Grand Challenges?
Exploiting hydrocarbons from the deep reaches of Earth has been no easy task. The scale of innovation required rivals those in any other high technology industry. As an industry, we have done well in finding and producing sufficient hydrocarbons to satisfy the world’s energy needs to date; however, the task becomes harder in the future as the resource base becomes more difficult to extract and our desire to minimize environmental impact strengthens.
Increasing Recovery Factors
Gary A. Pope, Texaco Centennial Chair in Petroleum Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, kicked off the series of “R&D Grand Challenges” articles with his view on recent developments and remaining challenges of enhanced oil recovery.
He wrote, “There has been a renaissance in chemical EOR during the past few years because of major advances in the technology and high oil prices. Thermal and miscible gas methods are much more mature with the exception of processes such as coinjection of gases and surfactants for mobility control. The synergy between the EOR processes and improved reservoir characterization and formation evaluation, reservoir modeling and simulation, reservoir management, well technology, production methods, and facilities is significant and not as widely recognized as it should be.
“So what are the most significant constraints on any kind of EOR? My guess is the following in order of importance: a shortage of experienced engineers and geoscientists with a fundamental understanding of EOR, uncertainty in oil prices, and risk aversion due in part to out-of-date knowledge and in part to the complexity of EOR compared with more conventional oil recovery. There are also environmental concerns that must be addressed for each process and location. For these and other reasons, it may take many years to ramp up EOR production to millions of barrels per day.
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