Needed: Greater Teamwork Between Disciplines
- Michel T. Halbouty (Consulting Geologist And Petroleum Engineer)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- June 1968
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 555 - 558
- 1968. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 7.6.1 Knowledge Management
- 3 in the last 30 days
- 180 since 2007
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Petroleum industry management, as well as individuals, must realize that greater teamwork between disciplines is needed to meet the challenges of the future. In the area of exploration this teamwork is indispensable. Future successful exploration will depend an the coordinated efforts of the geologist, geophysicist and the petroleum engineer. Ways by which this coordination can be achieved are discussed.
There is no question that greater teamwork among the disciplines of geology, geophysics and petroleum engineering is needed today more than ever before. There was a time, during the so-called golden years of the industry, when little attention was paid to combining the resources of these three powerful technical segments.
In order to understand what is needed today and what will be required in the future from these three disciplines, it is important to reflect on the status of world petroleum production on Jan. 1, 1901. The world's annual production was about 138 million bbl. Russia was the leading oil-producing nation with 68 million bbl. Of the 58 million bbl produced in the U. S., 92 percent, or 53 million bbl, was from the so-called "oil region" of Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Indiana and New York. Four million bbl, or 6 percent, was from California, and the remaining 1 million bbl, or 2 percent, was produced from the Corsicana field in Texas.
The average production for the so-called large producers in the U. S. was 75 B/D. The entire world production was consumed in lubrication and illumination. Civilization was still in the lubrication age. There was not enough petroleum produced to justify its use as a liquid fuel. But Spindletop changed all of this.
On Jan. 10, 1901, in the dawn of a new century, the Spindletop discovery fired the imagination of the entire world. The potential from the discovery well, if estimated on a per-year basis, was more than the combined production of the entire world. Spindletop brought on the liquid fuel age and was the beginning not only of the world's industrial revolution, but also, certainly, of the oil industry.
Prior to the Spindletop discovery and for a decade after, the status of the petroleum geologist was that of a college professor who was retained occasionally by oil companies to do consulting work. On the other hand, the early engineer was merely a roughneck or a roustabout or a driller who had no formal engineering education. But these men who did the work in the field with countless improvisions and inventions brought about the know-how that is recognized throughout the world as distinctly American.
Impact of Geophysics
During the years from 1917 to 1930, when the rate of discovery of new reserves was slow, full field geological crews hunted for surface indications and made whatever recommendations were appropriate for the drilling of wildcat wells which were few.
It was at this time that geophysics made its advent into petroleum exploration. That impact was terrific. Here was an exploration method that revolutionized the very word "exploration". The other methods of looking for structures to drill were relegated to a background position. The geologist lost prestige and the geophysicist gained it. Management backed the geophysicist because of his tremendous exploration success. The hiatus between the geologist and the geophysicist was so profound that management foolishly went so far as to put the departments in separate buildings and, in some cases, in separate cities. For more than three decades, the geophysicist and the geologist never got together. We now know that this was a great waste of brain power and that it greatly hampered exploration efforts.
Since 1957 there has been a continuous slowdown in the number of discoveries made by geophysicists. Management has only recently realized that the geologist and the geophysicist must work together, and in most major companies, a fervent attempt has been made to bring this about.
However, management still is making a mistake, in that there has been very little coordinating, if any, of the efforts of explorationists and petroleum engineers.
Supplying of Future Demands
In order for the U. S. to maintain an adequate reserve position during only the next 10 years, we must find a minimum of 55 billion bbl of oil and 300 Tcf of gas, based on the expected increase in annual demand.
If these demands are to be met, we should be drilling a minimum of 20,000 exploratory wells and 40,000 development wells annually. In fact, the ratio would be better if we drilled 35,000 development and 25,000 exploratory wells each year.
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