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If you are reading this blog you have almost certainly aware of the current level of excitement and enthusiasm surrounding shales. Drilling campaigns for oil and gas in shale plays are underway around the world and production from shale plays represents a substantial fraction of domestic production.

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Shale as reservoirs? Shales are known to be the principal sources for conventional hydrocarbon plays. They also often function as reservoir seals because of their low permeabilities.  They can also be the reservoir and trap under certain circumstances. Most of the gas created in such reservoirs would be thermogenic in origin although some shales (e.g. the Antrim) have […]

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Reservoir management is the application of earth sciences and engineering to safely optimize the recovery of hydrocarbons and associated materials from subsurface reservoirs. These reservoirs are rock formations that trap hydrocarbons and are primarily accessed by wellbores drilled from the surface. While crude oil and natural gas with its associated natural gas liquids are the primary commercial […]

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Okay, so some of you have looked at my picture and said “What on earth is that thing in your hand?” It is a choke used in oil and gas wells. Chokes are usually used in relatively high-rate wells. They have reduced diameters compared to the tubing and/or flowlines and cause a pressure drop. As […]

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Reservoir monitoring can be applied on small fields but has been (to date) mainly applied on large fields and deepwater operations where its impacts have such a large potential impact that economic justification is easy. The field development planning and operations management of such fields is now almost invariably assigned to integrated asset teams comprising reservoir and production engineers, geologists, geophysicists and other specialists such as geomechanics and petrophysics experts. The expertise for the technology of reservoir monitoring is often best known by subsets of this team. While the production or completions engineer may best understand downhole measurements, the petrophysicist may be the expert in production logging, the geophysicist in 4D seismic, the geologist in the static model construction and the reservoir engineer in pressure transient analysis and reservoir simulation.

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The majority of current activity in shale reservoirs involves the use of horizontal wells and most reservoirs are also hydraulically fractured in the completion process. The hydraulic fracturing process has evolved rapidly in the last decade and techniques most common in the early days of hydraulic fracturing have largely been replaced by several new concepts. […]

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Oil and gas operators are faced with a difficult task in extracting their product from geological formations deep beneath the earth’s surface. One of the most difficult issues is of course identifying where such formations exist and contain all the properties needed to be productive. Geological formations are rock layers. Oil and gas is usually […]

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Consistent gathering and analyzing of the data relevant to waterflood performance is called waterflood surveillance and it has many forms. Simply measuring and recording phase rates and pressures is an initial step. Unfortunately many waterfloods rely on relatively infrequent well tests of individual wells to allocate production that is gathered and measured at any of […]

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Geochemistry Many tools are used to analyze and study shales. The TOC (total organic carbon) is typically determined as the difference between total organic carbon and the carbonate carbon concentration. While both of the latter measurements are generally made with cuttings or core samples, petrophysical estimates of TOC can provide excellent and continuous estimates of […]

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Shale reservoirs are (often) unconventional plays According to the US Geological survey(1), production from unconventional reservoirs exists in geographically extensive accumulations . Their deposits generally lack well-defined hydrocarbon/water contacts and include coalbed methane, some tight sandstone reservoirs, chalks, and self-sourced oil and gas in shale accumulations. The assessment methodology and production practices of unconventional reservoirs […]

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The asset team responsible for optimizing the value of a field under waterflood doesn’t have the ability to change the existence of reservoir heterogeneities but must recognize them and properly characterize them in the static and dynamic models. They utilize the results of pre-existing reservoir monitoring data and recommend optimal data gathering to improve their […]

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In his classic text, Physical Principles of Oil Production, Morris Muskat devotes a Chapter to “Secondary Recovery,” a term that for decades would refer to operations following the natural or “primary” recovery associated with depletion of an oil field’s initial energy. Pressure maintenance referred to operations whose objective was primarily to abate the depletion of […]

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Hydraulic fracturing using conventional slick water or gelled water jobs requires large volumes of water. Historically it has required relatively fresh water. In modern horizontal wells with scores of individual stages it may not be economically attractive to use portable frac tanks.  Operators may dig frac pits that may or may not be lined and […]

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In this example the reservoir engineer is called on to estimate the potentially recoverable resources in an exploration project that is located near a series of small discoveries. The engineer has a map generated (by geologists and geophysicists) from seismic, geological and petrophysical data and has estimated a “most likely” gas-in-place based on analysis of […]

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NTIR or Number of Times Investment Returned is similar to the Profit-to-Investment ratio. The PI ratio is often called ROI; however, this is discouraged because of inevitable confusion with DCFROI.  It is a simple, undiscounted measure of the total net cash flows other than the “investment.” In the payout example the cumulative undiscounted cash flow […]

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this graph shows npv versus cos for the drill and farmout case
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Evaluation Criteria and cash flow analysis Payout In this and some following blog entries, many of the common measures of cash flow are defined and illustrated.  Perhaps the most common economic measure and one of the simplest is “payout.”  Also known as payback time, it is defined as the length of time required to recover invested capital […]

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The oil and gas industry has invested billions of dollars in finding, discovering, developing, producing, transporting and refining hydrocarbons for more than a century and has long been an enormous source of wealth creation.  In countries such as the United States where a great deal of the ownership of subsurface mineral rights are privately owned, […]

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Discounting of future cash flows, time value of money It is commonly said that money has a time value. This is self-evident. Would you prefer to have $1,000 paid to you annually for the next thirty years or to receive $30,000 today?  While there may be certain circumstances where the delayed payments are preferable,[1] it […]

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I am going to take a small break from the continuing series of blog entries on economics and risk analysis to address a specific technology.  This is in response to multiple requests, so if there is a topic you want to address, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Wireline and LWD formation testing while drilling […]

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Discounting Monthly Cash Flows One method of discounting monthly cash flows is to use the number of years (a non-integer) corresponding to those months and use the annual discount factor[1]. Another alternative is to use a monthly discount rate and to use the integer months for the calculation. In this latter example, there are two […]

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Shale Engineering Supports a Billion Dollar Investment in Montney Shale Play Baker Hughes RDS shale engineering models establish viability of Farrell Creek project I generally use original content in the blog, but today I would like to draw your attention to a case study from Baker Hughes. It is a good example of how interdisciplinary […]

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Present Value (PV) is particularly useful in ranking comparably sized projects with similar investment requirements. Net Present Value (NPV) refers to the total of all cash flows to (and from) a given party.  It can be a pre-tax or after-tax number. The terms PV and NPV are often used interchangeably with some companies using NPV […]

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Price Escalation and Constant Price Cases Changing product prices for oil and gas are a fact that is now ingrained in the thought processes of evaluators. Price forecasting can be based on many approaches ranging from fundamental supply and demand predictions through trend analysis. No method has a stellar track record over a significant time […]

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In the prior blog entry we discussed the tools and interpretation theory for formation testers.  In this entry we will talk about using FTs for a unique aspect of reservoir characterization that can only be done commercially during the drilling phase of a well and before its completion.  The next blog entry will discuss fluid […]

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In this, the final of three blog entries about formation testing, I will cover the use of FTs for fluid identification and some advanced applications.  In a demonstration that Baker Hughes employees occasionally do to illustrate these capabilities at trade shows we will actually pour either Coca-Cola® Diet Coca-Cola® into the tool and differentiate the two based […]

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My first blog entry was “What’s a shale anyway?” and since then I have had a lot of interest from readers about a variety of shale topics. For this blog entry I have the interview I gave to AAPG Explorer that appeared in December 2010 issue. The article also quotes Scott Stockton. While the author […]

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The Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) is the major professional organization for petroleum engineers. I have been active in SPE since the mid-1970s and it has been extremely valuable for me professionally. The meetings that SPE sponsors (often in conjunction with other professional organizations) are invaluable in sharing technology, career development and interaction with professional […]

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Concessions While many major fields were developed under the concession model, this is generally a historical artifact.  In the first two-thirds of the 20th century it was not uncommon for sovereign nations to grant large concessions to operators. This was in a time of relatively low and nearly constant oil prices and a time when access […]

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Types of International Petroleum Fiscal Regimes I am continuing to defer the petroleum economics section updates based on questions from blog readers. I am now commencing a series on International Petroleum Fiscal Regimes that will go for nine blog entries. In this series I will describe the issues in different oil and gas fiscal regimes […]

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For this blog entry I continue to quote from a White Paper prepared by Baker Hughes and available on our website. The complete paper can be obtained here. I will present it here in three parts. Minimizing risks with responsible fluids No regulatory body has documented a single case of fracturing fluid contaminating fresh water […]

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I joined the World Oil Advisory Board in 1996 while working for a large independent oil company. Each December World Oil (and my subsequent employers) have allowed me wide latitude to opine on technical, commercial and related issues that I think will be important to the industry. For this blog entry I have included this […]

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Production Sharing Contracts The first production sharing contracts (PSC) were signed in 1967 with Indonesia. The two parties to the PSC are the NOC and the IOCs, referred to as the “Contractor”.  Unlike tax/royalty systems, PSCs (in some countries also known as Production Sharing Agreements (PSA) generally transfer title to the produced hydrocarbons at the […]

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I am on the SPE Committee for a 2-day workshop readers may wish to try and attend. It is focused on the liquids rich unconventional plays and will be held April 11–12, 2011 in that hotbed of oilfield technology, Palos Verdes, California. The SPE-sponsored workshop will be held at the Terranea resort hotel and details can […]

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Ring fencing Ring fencing is simply the level at which each fiscal or administrative component is to be calculated or administered. The level can be as low as the field/deployment area or up to the entire contract area; in some cases the entire region or country. While PSC fiscal components of cost oil, profit oil, […]

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The UK offers a concession-style agreement, and the general style is applicable to other countries as diverse as Argentina, Australia, Norway and the United States. UK licenses are for the most part awarded on the basis of competitive work program bids in licensing rounds. However, there is an element of discretion in the award process […]

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After a long hiatus we are now returning to the series on oilfield economics. Discounted cash flow return on investment (DCFROI) also referred to as discounted cash flow rate-of-return (DCFROR) or Internal Rate of Return (IRR) is defined as the discount rate at which the NPV is zero. It is very attractive to decision makers […]

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At the beginning of this section we discussed the relative components of the various schemes including ownership, the manner in which entitlement to hydrocarbons is given or calculated, the manner in which payment is made, and operational freedom. No one single parameter defines a contract style.  There is a tendency to observe that tax/royalty contracts […]

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The concept of using simulations to estimate variability and risk has evolved in acceptance and popularity over my career. An understanding of the concepts involved is so fundamental for reservoir engineers that I have chose to illustrate those concepts very simply. A number of excellent references are given for further study. Commercial software is available that can […]

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Country Examples The following five examples provide overviews of petroleum regimes in five countries. These are not to be considered definitive interpretations but as overviews designed to show the complexities of different systems. (As an aside, this blog entry will be published July 2nd, 2011. This is my 35th wedding anniversary. I am a lucky […]

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There is a lot more to this subject than is covered here in one blog post. Essentially this is what I think the petroleum engineer as an analyst needs to know. It is far from the level of understanding needed to calculate WACC and many of its applications. Conceptual Framework Several concepts of financial theory […]

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For this blog entry I continue to quote from a White Paper prepared by Baker Hughes and available on our website. The complete paper can be obtained here. I will present it here in three parts. Executive Brief Since the late 1940s, hydraulic fracturing technology has been used in more than a million U.S. wells to […]

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For this blog entry I continue to quote from a White Paper prepared by Baker Hughes and available on our website. The complete paper can be obtained here. I will present it here in three parts. Manmade barriers isolate and protect To supplement the natural barriers to fluid migration and further protect underground drinking water […]

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Present Value Ratio (PVR) While NPV fails to deliver a measure of capital efficiency, the Present Value Ratio (PVR) index calculates a measure of investment efficiency that is very useful in ranking projects with significant capital investment. It is the ratio of the discounted (after tax) net cash generated by a project to the discounted […]

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Indonesia is the originator of the classic Production Sharing Contract, or PSC. Under this contract foreign oil companies fund all aspects of exploration and exploitation on behalf of Pertamina, the national oil company. In return, companies are entitled to lift hydrocarbons according to a “production sharing” formula. The formula has changed slightly over the years […]

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Iraq Service Contracts In 2008 Iraq embarked on the first of what, to date, has been three rounds of service contract awards to the international petroleum industry. Each of the contracts has been slightly different, but all have followed the same general principle of service contract structure; namely that the IOCs (treated in consortium as […]

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Many types of risk analysis approaches are used and if the management of a company is successful with one approach it may be hard to justify changing it. One example of an approach that is not recommended, yet still relatively commonplace is the adjustment of discount rates to account for risk. A manager may wish […]

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The application of Monte Carlo simulations is one of the most important tools that reservoir engineers can master in the field of modern risk analysis. Nearly all business decisions are made under conditions of uncertainty. Decision making under uncertainty implies that adequate information for assuring the right decision is lacking and two or more outcomes […]

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Decision trees are a useful way to describe alternative scenarios and select the decision that maximizes the NPV or whatever the decision maker is trying to optimize. In decision theory, the most desired outcome is based on the goals and preferences of the decision maker. The reservoir engineer can use decision trees to describe complex […]

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I collect knives. Custom made knives, hand crafted out of exotic materials by some amazing artists. One of my knives has a bolster made of superconducting[1] materials including such unusual elements as yttrium, bismuth, thallium and strontium. Young professionals may not remember the buzz in the industry when scientists discovered superconducting properties in materials at […]

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Operational and chemical solutions There are a variety of strategies available that can alleviate the safety, environmental and operational problems caused by the storage and handling of problematic crude oils, refined products, and various other feedstocks and intermediates, such as condensates, naphthas, light distillates, gas oils, and residual materials. Operating solutions In a perfect world, […]

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Deepwater exploration, development and production present unique challenges to operators. Safe operations and protecting the environment are primary requirements. Minimizing risks and maximizing recovery are also among their top priorities. With average worldwide rig day rates remaining higher than $300,000 (drillships and semisubmersible rigs), there is no room for unexpected costs resulting from nonproductive time. […]

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In this and the following two blog posts we talk about hydrogen sulfide. Reservoir engineers often talk about H2S as a non-hydrocarbon diluents in natural gas, it’s miscibility with crude oils and reservoir management issues. One such reservoir management issue is the possibility of souring reservoirs when inadequate or incorrect bactericides are included in injected […]

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In this series of three blog posts we talk about hydrogen sulfide. Reservoir engineers often talk about H2S as non-hydrocarbon diluents in natural gas, it’s miscibility with crude oils and reservoir management issues. One such reservoir management issue is the possibility of souring reservoirs when inadequate or incorrect bactericides are included in injected fluids. But […]

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Risks and opportunities associated with shale plays as unconventional projects go global. (Part 5/5) Some of this material was prepared for presentation at the ADIPEC 2013 Technical Conference, Abu Dhabi, UAE, 10-13 November 2013 in a presentation titled “A Consistent Approach to Source Rock Resource Evaluation and Optimization.” This is the fifth and final in […]

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Analyzing Waterflood Communication: In this month’s blog, Baker Hughes reservoir engineering consultants Shelia Marsh and Atul Kshirsagar contribute to the blog. I also appreciate Neil Meldrum and Edwin Jong’s input. One key to optimizing oil recovery and determining production potential of waterflooded fields is through reservoir surveillance. Geological studies alone cannot quantify potential increases in […]

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This dummy valve is “smart” Gas lift is an artificial lift technology that uses gas injected (generally) from the surface through an opening in the production tubing to lower the density of the liquid column, allowing the well to be produced. In most modern completions, gas enters through one or more gas lift valves placed […]

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Living in Asia the last year and a half has been a particularly edifying experience for my wife and me. I began writing this article in Hyderabad and am finishing it in Ulaanbaatar. I have been fortunate to have traveled much of the world in my life but living in Hong Kong and working on […]

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Baker Hughes is offering a three-day course “GMI Principles of Hydraulic Fracturing” Learn the fundamental principles of hydraulic fracturing GMI Principles of Hydraulic Fracturing July 9-11, 2013 Houston, Texas This three-day course introduces participants to the design of hydraulic fractures. Through lecture combined with practical exercise, this course presents the fundamental principles of hydraulic fracturing. […]

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Some of this material was prepared for presentation at the ADIPEC 2013 Technical Conference, Abu Dhabi, UAE, 10-13 November 2013 in a presentation titled “A Consistent Approach to Source Rock Resource Evaluation and Optimization.” This is the first in a series of five blog entries on the subject. The commercialization and widespread development of shale […]

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Risks and opportunities associated with shale plays as unconventional projects go global. (Part 4) Some of this material was prepared for presentation at the ADIPEC 2013 Technical Conference, Abu Dhabi, UAE, 10-13 November 2013 in a presentation titled “A Consistent Approach to Source Rock Resource Evaluation and Optimization.” This is the fourth in a series […]

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Auto Trak X-treme
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I recently had the opportunity to address a large group of materials scientists and engineers who work for Baker Hughes. I attended a few of their talks during the two-day conference and I was impressed with how complex and sophisticated the technologies involved are. While this blog is dedicated to reservoir issues I decided to […]

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Teflon: a happy accident that shaped world history In this blog entry I will discuss the discovery and invention of a technology everyone knows and most of us have used. The history of this product is fascinating. I believe that the course of world history may have been changed by this invention in a way […]

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Engineering professionalism and ethics   A great deal has been written about professionalism and engineering ethics. This material along with expanded examples and detailed discussions of engineers as expert witnesses appears in the book Advanced Reservoir Engineering and Management[1]. This blog entry summarizes some of the specific requirements for petroleum engineers. Baker Hughes is committed […]

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Risks and opportunities associated with shale plays as unconventional projects go global. (Part 2/5) Some of this material was prepared for presentation at the ADIPEC 2013 Technical Conference, Abu Dhabi, UAE, 10-13 November 2013 in a presentation titled “A Consistent Approach to Source Rock Resource Evaluation and Optimization.” This is the second in a series […]

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Risks and opportunities associated with shale plays as unconventional projects go global. (Part 3) Some of this material was prepared for presentation at the ADIPEC 2013 Technical Conference, Abu Dhabi, UAE, 10-13 November 2013 in a presentation titled “A Consistent Approach to Source Rock Resource Evaluation and Optimization.” This is the third in a series […]

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This series of blog entries is extracted from a presentation developed for The Center for American and International Law’s 65th Annual Oil and Gas Law Conference held in Houston, TX February 19-20, 2014.  The paper was presented by Kevin Ewing of & Giuliani LLP and by D. Nathan Meehan of Baker Hughes Incorporated. In parts […]

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 This series of blog entries is extracted from a presentation developed for The Center for American and International Law’s 65th Annual Oil and Gas Law Conference held in Houston, TX February 19-20, 2014.  The paper was presented by Kevin Ewing of & Giuliani LLP and by D. Nathan Meehan of Baker Hughes Incorporated. In parts […]

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This series of blog entries is extracted from a presentation developed for The Center for American and International Law’s 65th Annual Oil and Gas Law Conference held in Houston, TX February 19-20, 2014.  The paper was presented by Kevin Ewing of & Giuliani LLP and by D. Nathan Meehan of Baker Hughes Incorporated. In parts […]

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This series of blog entries is extracted from a presentation developed for The Center for American and International Law’s 65th Annual Oil and Gas Law Conference held in Houston, TX February 19-20, 2014.  The paper was presented by Kevin Ewing of & Giuliani LLP and by D. Nathan Meehan of Baker Hughes Incorporated. In parts […]

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Impact of energy on improving people’s lives— and the world’s most significant health risk. My personal experience is that the availability of safe, clean energy is one of the most important things that contribute to improving the quality of life. Food, water, shelter are all essential; however, access to energy makes it possible for people […]

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Baker Hughes is publishing a book titled Unconventional Resources: Exploitation and Development covering a wide variety of topics central to optimizing recovery and profitability of these reservoirs. This blog entry includes extracts from the book which will be available at http://www.shopbakerhughes.com/ In our last blog post we looked at the various flow mechanisms potentially associated with ultra-low […]

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Quality is a measurement of excellence that is often difficult to quantify. Providers of quality products and services command premium prices. Brand names we associate with quality inspire positive thoughts. They are names we trust to deliver what we expect of them—safely, reliably, and with flawless performance. Quality is a perceptual, conditional, and somewhat subjective […]

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Baker Hughes is publishing a book titled “Unconventional Resources: Exploitation and Development” covering a wide variety of topics central to optimizing recovery and profitability of these reservoirs. This blog entry includes extracts from the book which will be available in the next few months at http://www.shopbakerhughes.com/ As reservoir engineers, we can analyze most conventional oil and […]

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  Ethical dilemmas associated with Data and Image Manipulation “Manipulation—that term sounds so negative…” Image Manipulation Long before the days of Photoshop® or even personal computers(1), I had my first experience with image manipulation and ethics. A friend of mine and I spent a summer together at an honors program for high school students. My […]

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“You don’t get your social license by going to a government ministry and making an application or simply paying a fee… It requires far more than money to truly become part of the communities in which you operate.” – Pierre Lassonde, President of Newmont Mining Corporation. Introduction The shale revolution in North America has completely […]

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“You don’t get your social license by going to a government ministry and making an application for one, or simply paying a fee. … It requires far more than money to truly become part of the communities in which you operate.” Pierre Lassonde, President of Newmont Mining Corp., 2003 There is widespread acceptance that extraction […]

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Improving People’s Lives Hope is not a strategy….but without hope there is no strategy(1). A great benefit of being SPE President is the chance to interact with students and young professionals around the world. Many are anxious about the future, but not panicked. I have been asked if this is the worst time ever in […]

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Nathan Meehan is senior executive adviser at Baker Hughes, where he advises executive management on reservoir and geoscience issues. Previously, he served as the president of CMG Petroleum Consulting, an independent consultancy; vice president of engineering at Occidental Petroleum; and general manager of exploration and production at Union Pacific Resources. Meehan earned a BSc in […]

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2016 SPE President’s Column published in the Journal of Petroleum Technology Each SPE president chooses a tagline for his or her monthly column, often referencing an  underlying theme. Improving people’s lives is what we do as petroleum engineers, so it is an important theme for us. Oil and natural gas production raises the standard of living […]

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As 2016 SPE President I have the opportunity to share messages with industry professionals and students around the world. Two of Baker Hughes’ core messages occur in nearly every talk. First, our purpose: Enabling Safe Affordable Energy Improving People’s Lives. Second, the Perfect HSE Day. This concept really rings true. Here is my December, 2015 […]

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The first brief flight at Kitty Hawk in 1903 did not immediately make the Wright brothers famous; however, within 5 years, enthusiasm for the new technology began to spread around the world. Louis Blériot won a prize for flying over the English Channel in a heavier-than-air craft in 1909, and Charles Lindbergh won the USD […]

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There are two great truths tied to hydraulic fracturing. 1. It has helped improve people’s lives by enabling the oil and gas industry to tap reserves that otherwise could not have been recovered. 2. It has unleashed dramatic public opposition.   I am disappointed to see public opposition to hydraulic fracturing, because I think, for the biggest part, it is unfounded. […]

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Why Strategic Well Rejuvenation is the Key to Sustained Profitability in Today’s Oil and Gas Market This blog entry was originally published as a white paper by Baker Hughes and was authored by H. C. Freitag and his team. ABSTRACT In the North American shale plays, the most popular approach to developing assets is built […]

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Why Strategic Well Rejuvenation is the Key to Sustained Profitability in Today’s Oil and Gas Market This blog post was originally a white paper by H.C. Freitag and his team at Baker Hughes. STEP 1. SCREEN AND SELECT CANDIDATE WELLS Selecting rejuvenation candidates with the best risk/reward ratio from an operator’s hundreds—or even thousands—of wells […]

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Originally published as http://spe.org/jpt/article/10176-presidents-column-36/ As 2016 SPE President I often speak of Baker Hughes’ purpose. In this post I would like to talk about the mission of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE)? Why do we collect, disseminate, and exchange technical knowledge? There are plenty of reasons why such activities are valuable. Our mission statement […]

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There are many definitions of sustainability, but the 1987 United Nations Brundtland Commission’s remains a standard. “Meeting the needs of today without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (WCED 1987) Some think oil and gas have little role in a sustainable future; global realities suggest otherwise. How is it that […]

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  Hydrocarbons have never been easy to find or produce. Now, in addition, we must contend with low prices. But, to the more-than 7 billion people on our planet, whose quality-of-life depends on safe, affordable energy, the price of oil and gas does not matter. D. Nathan Meehan, Baker Hughes Hydrocarbons have never been easy […]

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