Guest Editorial: Emerging Technology and Its Impact on the Industry
- Adam Farris (Object Reservoir)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- October 2006
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 32 - 34
- 2006. 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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It is no secret that oil fields today are more difficult to locate, evaluate, drill, and produce. In deepwater offshore projects, finding and drilling a prospect can take several years. Rig rates are up to U.S. $600,000/day and rising. A completed deepwater well can cost as much as $100 million.
Deep water is the extreme case, but consider onshore tight gas plays, where the permeabilities are in the microdarcies and extended-reach horizontals and complex completions are increasingly common. This pushes drilling and completion costs much higher. Other factors complicate the issue as well. There is a big gap in experience levels, and the engineering labor pool is dwindling. Management is preparing for the exit of many talented engineers, and as they leave, these innovators take with them lifetimes of hands-on experience. The industry challenge is this: How do we increase production with tougher problems to solve and the exit of experienced engineers and thought leaders? Technology has been touted as the saving grace for a long time, but is it the answer?
Our current industry leaders were in our shoes once. They were the emerging leaders, the up-and-comers with high aspirations and fresh ideas. Now they lead some of the most powerful companies in our industry—Anadarko, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Occidental, to name a few. We are all leaders because the success or failure of the oil and gas business depends on us. We have a responsibility to a lot of people.
Responsibility and accountability are inseparable from leadership, but think about another defining characteristic of a great leader. It is curiosity and the ideas and insight that accompany it. Then comes the hard part—follow-through and continual improvement. Technology by itself will not solve the industry’s problems. The power comes from combining the valuable industry knowledge of our current leaders and making use of that information with tech-savvy successors. Leaders who continue to innovate and use advancements in technology to create additional business value—that is the future of our industry.
There is also a difference between using technology and being an early adopter. If you would not think twice about buying an iPod that came out last week, you are an early adopter. There is not a lot of fear associated with technology among young professionals because it has always been a part of their daily life. When applied to their careers, that technology-based viewpoint offers true business value.
Several examples from the past illustrate just how important technology and its advancements are. One interesting example is computer-aided design (CAD) systems and their applications. When CAD first appeared in the 1980s, very few engineers would apply it to projects. They tried to use it, but in the end, it was faster to draw their designs on paper.
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