E&P Notes (December 2014)
- Trent Jacobs (JPT Technology Writer) | Stephen Rassenfoss (JPT Emerging Technology Senior Editor) | Jack Betz (JPT Staff Writer)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- December 2014
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 36 - 41
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Springer Shale Rising: Continental’s New Niche Play
Trent Jacobs, JPT Technology Writer
The United States’ liquids-rich shale experience has been dominated by three major plays: the Eagle Ford Shale in south Texas, the Permian Basin in west Texas, and the Bakken Shale that straddles North Dakota and Montana. But in the future, smaller plays will represent an increasing share of development and production.
“In terms of new discoveries, the best fields in our view have been picked over, are producing, and in development mode right now,” said Brandon Mikael, an upstream analyst of the Lower 48 US states at Wood Mackenzie.
As a result, Mikael said companies are turning to “niche plays” such as the Springer shale, one of the target formations of the newly emerging South-Central Oklahoma Oil Province (SCOOP). To add some perspective, Wood Mackenzie, a research consultancy group that specializes in the oil and gas industry, said the Springer shale ranks between 30th and 35th in term of its production value among the 200 shale plays that it has identified in North America.
Leading the charge in the area is Continental Resources, followed by two other independents, Marathon Oil and Newfield Exploration. In September, Continental told investors that it controls 118,000 acres in the “oil fairway” of the Springer shale discovery, which it said is 67% oil and 84% liquids overall. After drilling its first 11 producing wells, the company said it “derisked” 46,000 acres, which it estimates holds 127 million BOE.
Continental said that its early production numbers are comparable to its wells in the Bakken Shale, where it is the second-largest producer. Based on its analysis, Wood Mackenzie estimates that production in the Springer shale will increase from 3,600-5,000 B/D this year to between 40,000 and 60,000 B/D in 5 years.
The relatively modest production projection means that the Springer shale “is not going to be an Eagle Ford,” Mikael said. Located in the heart of Oklahoma’s oil and gas producing area, and approximately 40 miles from Continental’s headquarters in Oklahoma City, the Springer shale offers logistical benefits that will help create value for the company.
Paying Close Attention to a Gas Lift System Can Be Rewarding
Stephen Rassenfoss, JPT Emerging Technology Senior Editor
When a gas lift system starts performing poorly, there is a good chance no one will notice. It is not an event that demands attention like a broken pump. A gas lift system will continue injecting gas into wells and oil will continue to come out. Just not as much oil as there could be.
That potential has driven ExxonMobil to step up monitoring of its many gas lift systems in the United States, with regular visits from gas lift technicians and research work to develop new ways to better monitor and manage them.
“The vast majority (of gas lift systems) need some treatment to improve them,” said Rodney Bane, global artificial lift manager in ExxonMobil Global Production. “The wells do not remain the same over time. They change.”
In a presentation at the recent Artificial Lift Conference in Houston, Bane outlined how ExxonMobil researchers are seeking new measures of gas lift performance and better ways to diagnose problems. That work has been guided by what it learned from a team of technicians to find and fix underperforming gas lift systems.
A Request for Two Statistics Could Change Offshore Drilling
Stephen Rassenfoss, JPT Emerging Technology Senior Editor
A scientist hired by federal regulators to look for ways to reduce the risk of well blowouts said it is time for the oil and gas industry to treat kicks taken while drilling the same way doctors treat heart attacks.
Daniel Fraser, a lead collaborator on a research program looking for ways to reduce the risk of a loss of well control for the United States Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), was making a case for a more statistically driven method of measuring fluid flow changes and using that data to reduce drilling risk.
Just as the oil industry has long realized that small influxes of fluid can help predict problems, doctors know that prompt action taken when a patient experiences the symptoms of a heart attack leads to better outcomes. That had little effect on patient care until response time studies showed that medical providers were not living up to their standards. Those measures led to fundamental changes that shortened the time to treatment and reduced the number of deaths.
During a session at the 2014 SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, Fraser used the medical analogy to try to convince drillers of the value of more precise measures of drilling fluids out of wells and faster response times. Based on his work for BSEE, those two measures could significantly reduce the number of incidents and the severity of those that occur, he said.
Students Compete to Design an Automated Driller
Jack Betz, JPT staff writer
Student teams from around the world are competing to build an automated drilling system in a first-ever competition created by SPE’s Drilling Systems Automation Technical Section (DSATS).
Over the past semester, multi-talented groups from about 20 universities in Austria, Germany, Norway, and the United States have each been working on detailed plans to build a machine capable of drilling without remote operation. Once the rig begins drilling, it should function autonomously.
Eight finalists will be chosen to compete by showing what they can do by drilling through a cube that is 60 cm on each side, using systems they have designed and built and a miniature diamond bit provided by the technical section, whose members will observe and judge their work.
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