The Responsibility of Geologists and Petroleum Engineers in Meeting Exploration Demands in the Future
- Michel T. Halbouty (Consulting Geologist And Petroleum Engineer)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- March 1964
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 239 - 243
- 1964. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 4.1.5 Processing Equipment, 6.1.5 Human Resources, Competence and Training, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 1.6 Drilling Operations, 4.1.2 Separation and Treating, 5.1.2 Faults and Fracture Characterisation, 4.6 Natural Gas
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The oil industry should be preparing right now for the high future demands of petroleum products, even though there are adequate reserves to handle present demand. Engineers and geologists, in particular, should cooperate and strive to use data at hand to increase tile efficiency of methods of finding new oil. Several important areas of cooperation are discussed and examples are given of instances in which such cooperation led to significant discoveries. Broader responsibilities of engineers and geologists are also pointed out.
In 1962, the United States produced 3.02 billion bbl of crude oil and natural gas liquids. This is the first time that total liquid hydrocarbon production has exceeded 3 billion bbl. In 1962, the United States also set a new record for natural gas by producing 13.7 trillion cu ft. At this rate of production, this country will have consumed its proven reserves of 38.7 billion bbl of liquid hydrocarbons in 12 1/2 years and its proven reserves of 273.8 trillion cu ft of gas in 20 years. Annual demand, however, is increasing at an established rate of 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 per cent/year for oil and 4 1/2 to 5 per cent/year for gas. Therefore, in order to maintain an adequate reserve position during the next 10 years, the United States must find 45 billion bbl of oil and 275 trillion cu ft of gas. In short, the petroleum industry's geologists and engineers must find and produce more oil and gas in the foreseeable future than has ever been produced in an equivalent previous period. In view of this challenge, one can only conclude that the basic law of supply and demand on which this country's economy is, or has been, based promises a bright future for the industry.
This rosy glow in the early morning sky is viewed at the moment, however, by an industry which is in a deep valley full of dark shadows. At a time when all signs point to an ever increasing demand for new reserves and greater productive capacity, the industry finds itself with more products to sell than present consumers can use. In addition, there is the problem of the loss of investment capital as a result of the continuing threat of increasing federal control. The sum of these two factors equals a reduction in exploration and production which is revealed by declining activity over the last 10 years.
Fig. 1 presents a brief resume of exploration and development in the United States since 1953. Geophysical activity is down 50 per cent from a high of 8,240 crew months in 1955 to a low of 4,231 crew months in 1962. Exploratory drilling is down 33 per cent from a peak of 16,207 wells in 1956 to 10,797 wells in 1962. Finally, as the inevitable result of a decline in exploration, development drilling has dropped 16 per cent from a high of 42,000 wells in 1956 to 35,408 in 1962.
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