Executive Summary

A.R. Kovscek, Stanford University 

SPE Journal publishes the results of fundamental research, R&D, and novel solutions that span all technical disciplines in the upstream oil and gas industry. Hence, the papers appearing in SPE Journal reflect emerging technology trends and engineering science. While reservoir simulation and its associated topics of upscaling and history matching are consistently reflected in SPE Journal manuscripts, an interesting perturbation is underway in the topics of manuscripts received for review.

This issue presents a number of papers with focus in the areas of geomechanics as well as naturally and hydraulically fractured systems. Reflecting, perhaps, the evolution of the resource base toward tight reservoir systems that are more difficult to engineer, predict, and produce. Note the manuscripts appearing on the topics of coupled simulation of fluid flow and geomechanics, the producibility of horizontal wells that penetrate multiple fractures carrying high velocity gas, interactions between hydraulic fracture proppant and formation, the relative permeability of propped fractures, and the role of strain on the permeability of coalbed methane. These themes will continue in future issues.

Another perturbation is an uptick in submissions within the area of enhanced recovery of oil or gas. Nearly one half of the articles here have some basis in enhanced recovery. This emphasis, perhaps, indicates efforts to produce the remaining known and well-characterized resource base. Investigations span from the pore to the reservoir scale including pore-scale simulation of water-alternating gas (WAG) floods to the composition routes followed during miscible injection to fighting gravity segregation during WAG. Among other manuscripts, we have one on modifying in-situ combustion performance using metallic salt additives. Although rarely acknowledged, air is the ultimate injectant for enhanced recovery as it is readily available anywhere on the planet at low cost. Clearly, more papers on enhanced recovery will be featured in upcoming issues as well.

In addition to the breadth of topics, another barometer for the health of SPE Journal is the pipeline of manuscripts submitted for consideration. As many of you know, the submission of manuscripts to be considered for peer review was decoupled last year from the papers written for the proceedings of SPE technical meetings. A second submission is needed to enter manuscripts into the peer review system. This was intended as a bit of a reality check for authors to consider whether their work might meet the rigors of peer review.

We had some concerns that the number of submissions to SPE Journal might decline as a result of the decoupling. Fortunately, there has been no precipitous drop in the number of articles moving onto peer review. Roughly 220 papers moved through peer review in both 2008 and 2009. During January we received 21 papers for review. Although it is early in the year, we are on track for another 200 plus manuscript year. The success rate for submissions varies from year to year, but typically 30 to 40% of submissions are ultimately accepted.

Finally, we welcome Henri Bertin from the Laboratoire TREFLE at the University of Bordeaux and Mohammad Piri from the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering at the University of Wyoming who join SPE Journal as associate editors.