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Change is inevitable, but good technology helps companies stay abreast of the turmoil and risk that go with today’s exploration and production environments.
Who better than a retiring chairman to outline “The New Energy Landscape?” Andrew Gould, who gave his last official presentation in a Schlumberger capacity at that company’s SIS Global Forum in Monaco on March 13, began by outlining some of the key shifts of the past decade that have “changed the landscape of the industry.”
The forum, titled “The New Reality for Better Outcomes,” featured Gould and four other speakers at the opening plenary session, which set the stage for what promises to be three days jam-packed with technical information about the future direction of the oil and gas industry.
One of these shifts Gould mentioned has been in the geopolitical arena. “Oil and gas have always been subject to political and geopolitical interference. But what has been striking in the last decade has been the extent to which the industry has operated in an increasing climate of insecurity.”
He added that the list of countries in which Schlumberger might have security concerns has risen from two or three countries 10 years ago to a dozen or more in today’s shaky climate.
Security of supply is another shift. China, India, and the Middle East have become drivers of demand over the past decade with China’s demand more than doubling since 2000.
The third shift is the emergence of Russia as the world’s largest single producer. “Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russian production dropped to as low as 6.1 million barrels per day (MMb/d),” he said. “In the six years following 1999, it rose by more than 3.0 MMb/d to become the major reason why oil prices did not rise faster much earlier.”
A final shift has been the supply response. With the major pillars of the 1970s oil supply -- Alaska, Mexico and the North Sea -- in decline, the cushion of excess supply has been greatly reduced. Companies responded with a frantic increase in E&P activity, moving national oil companies to become more nationalistic. This in turn led to even more acreage becoming off-limits to international oil companies (IOCs).
These and other shifts have driven IOCs and independents to more opportunities offshore, in remote and hostile environments, and in heavier oil and less mature provinces, Gould noted. While this is coupled with the field sizes of conventional reserves getting smaller, it is increasingly being complemented by unconventional resource development.
In fact, unconventional development is one of two of “today’s successes,” he said, along with deepwater development.
Gould’s final point was on industry demographics. Schlumberger Business Consulting’s annual HR Benchmark Survey indicated that 2010 data show strong recruiting efforts in the first 10 years of the new century. But the effect of the retiring generation had yet to hit.
“By 2015, not only will that effect have occurred, but the number of inexperienced industry professionals will have increased,” he said. “In light of the challenges that the industry faces, this workforce change will be a major headache.”
Other plenary speakers represented different segments of the industry. Marcos-Estanislao Mozetic, exploration director for Repsol, discussed his company’s journey to remake itself into an exploration company of consequence. In its quest to accomplish this goal, the company based its seismic expertise in Houston as it prepared to enter the Gulf of Mexico, while its geology expertise remained in Spain. “Imaging understanding is our final goal,” he said.
Chris Hopkins, technical director of Schlumberger Production Management, focused on “Planning to Production,” particularly as it applies to deepwater development, shale plays and mature fields. In the deepwater plays, planning and execution need to be leveraged through technology. Unconventional development is optimized through maximizing reservoir contact and minimizing development costs. Geosteering and improved completions design are helping achieve these objectives.
Mature fields benefit from partnerships. These fields suffer from a general lack of attention and funding since companies tend to focus on the newer fields in the portfolios. But partnerships between service and oil companies can shed new light on these fields and maximize recovery.
Abdulla Al Naim, vice president of exploration for Saudi Aramco, talked about his company’s successes in applying its maximum reservoir contact and advanced well completions technologies to improve field performance. Combining these concepts has resulted in production enhancement as well as efficiency gains.
Finally, Ian Bryant, exploration advisor for SIS, discussed an integrated approach to evaluating plays, prospects and exploration risk. Bryant showed how the use of integration products like the Petrel* E&P knowledge platform can help geoscientists evaluate a prospect based on a variety of surface and subsurface data to find the best places to drill. This aids them in two ways – they are better able to evaluate their risk, and they are better able to communicate that understanding to the decision-makers within their companies.
“It’s a way of teams coming together to gain actual insight into their exploration risk,” he said.
Contact the author, Rhonda Duey, at email@example.com.
*Mark of Schlumberger