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Execs outline upstream technologies that may transform the future

BY KURT ABRAHAM, EXECUTIVE EDITOR

DENVER -- Innovation continues to meet the operational challenges posed by unconventional resources, and there will be further technical breakthroughs in the coming years. That was the message delivered Tuesday morning by three executives speaking to a an Interactive Panel session of the SPE/AAPG/SEG Unconventional Resources Technology Conference (URTeC) in Denver.

Doug Valleau, director of Unconventional Technology at Hess Corp., outlined a list of eight technologies that he believes will make a difference. The first item, fully coupled reservoir simulation, includes geology and geomechanics, fracture mechanics and proppant transport, among various components. Second on Valleau’s list is “effective stimulated volume, associated with hydraulic fracture stimulations in shales. The third item, IOR/EOR for nano-perm reservoirs, includes, among its components, macro-micro-nano CT imaging, nano surfactant chemical IOR, and completion-delivered EOR. Within the fifth item, nanotechnology applications, are nano-laminates and coatings for friction reduction. Valleau’s sixth item, flare gas recovery, is not necessarily new, but there will increased practice of it, and this will involve power generation, gas reinjection, pipeline development, and LNG and gas-to-liquids activity. The seventh item, molecular filtration, refers to several components, including non-flammable LPG, non-aqueous methanol fracturing, and high-temperature stabilized foams. Finally, Valleau’s eighth item, water management, while also not new, will see increasing practice with regard to sourcing and transportation, storing and treating, and re-use and disposal.

Greg Leveille, general manager of Unconventional Resources at ConocoPhillips, had his own list of five items, noting that there is a chance that unconventional reservoirs may eventually contain more oil and gas than all conventional reservoirs. Among Leveille’s list, first item was “sweet spot identification from minimal amounts of data.” His second item was rapid determination of optimal completion design and development plans Third on his list was data acquisition in horizontal wells during fracing operations and production, followed fourth by “dramatic reductions in cost per boe.” Leveille’s fifth and final item was utilization of what he called “challenged water” for fracturing fluids. In what may be the understatement of the week, Leveille said, “It’s a really exciting time to be in the unconventional resources area. ConocoPhillips is spending tens of millions of dollars to obtain more data about the physics of unconventional resources.”

Speaking to recent technical improvements, Mike Mullen, president of Stimulation Petrophysics, said, “The value of data (derived) is that we can do a much better job of presenting the reservoir to management, so they can make better-informed decisions, as opposed to the seat-of-the-pants methods in the past.” He also talked about the role that service companies play in maintaining historical technical records for established fields, particularly as regards properties controlled by smaller independents. “Looking at a lot of small operators, their properties change hands frequently,” explained Mullen. “So, the service companies are the common thread that maintains the technical history of these properties. At some point, the service companies would consider themselves the keepers of the fields.”

Valleau said that his company is perfectly happy to see technical innovation shared throughout the industry as much as possible. “From our company’s standpoint,” said Valleau, “we’re not interested in creating intellectual properties. If we can develop something nifty, then let the service companies have it. They can do a better job of implementing it.”

 

08/14/2013

 

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