Managing in an Uncertain World – By Tony King, TEQKno

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A few days ago Andy Murray was asked if he was the last hope for the United Kingdom. The reporter rolled out the litany of woes ending with the recent departure of Wales from the Euro 2016. Andy, in his typical slouched manner, did not think so and was all about doing his best in the forthcoming game. To a similar extent we in the oil industry are in the same place. The oil industry has always been uncertain, admittedly the stakes and conditions today are acute, however, we can still make positive and business value adding steps.

So what can we do when we are uncertain and all the major projects seem to be on-hold? An answer might be maximizing the value of the existing production assets whilst attempting to minimize maintenance costs. Yes, that old chestnut! Did we really address this last time we were challenged? A huge investment has already been made in hooking up oil and gas wells, they are there ready. The When times were good the drive to maximize production at the cost of quality well and reservoir surveillance was a daily battle. Reservoir conditions change with time as do the production systems through which hydrocarbons flow. Rigs, wireline units, coil tubing rigs were all focused on the next new well, however, now we might be more strategic, and the relative cost of deferment is now less.  So in the coming articles I will be taking the line of maximizing asset value through practical, pragmatic steps, bringing a few well known ideas to bear whilst pulling in some new technological ideas as appropriate. So to start, I am suggesting a few fundamental steps.

All oil and gas companies have reservoir models of their major assets that require accurate regular well test data and survey data from key wells. The production forecasts are reliant on quality information. Often swing fields have more rudimentary models, however, may have unmeasured risks such as water column movements etc.  So how accurate are these models? Perhaps it is time to test those key wells with multi-rate tests checking reservoir dynamics, well performance indices and identifying downhole bottlenecks? There is a huge range of approaches to test wells, many using the existing infrastructure or a mobile test unit, so easy, cheap and fast to implement.

Historically companies have shied away from network infrastructure models to optimize production gathering. I have seen cases of field networks where little thought to well hook up has occurred, resulting in bean pumped, natural flowing and ESP pumped wells all being hooked up to the same manifold. Not once, however, all over a field. Optimization of production through optimal alignment of production streams, minimizing lift gas requirements for multiple well, etc, etc is possible with good data and good people.

How does this affect the tightly constrained budgets under which Asset Manager work today? Less costs than you would imagine. In a recent project I supported these activities revealed new low cost opportunities, such as additional mobile reserves or un-drained reservoir horizons/sections.

Food for thought and hopefully some actions. If you want to discuss this article or brainstorm some ideas, drop me a line. My email is nl.tonyking@gmail.com.

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