Areas of research emphasis

Taken from Exhibit A of the Petroleum E&P Research Cooperative Agreement Sections B and C.

The Cooperative pursues joint research activities under twelve different research themes in four broad categories listed below.

It is anticipated that these categories will change with time and that new categories will be added to reflect the evolving needs and interests of Members of the Cooperative.

Capital Cost Reduction

  1. Deepwater. Pooling of resources in this research area, which is inherently multidisciplinary, may take the industry considerably beyond the 2,000-foot water depth with new and optimized drilling and production facilities, subsea completions and gathering systems. GPRI has a strategically affiliated potential ally in the Offshore Technology Research Center at Texas A&M University. While the following ideas apply generally to all wells, they are particularly applicable to deep water: radically lower development costs, reduced project cycle time and greater flexibility in hardware.
  2. Drilling Enhancements. Research in this area will include, among other topics, extended reach drilling, non-conventional well technology and drilling optimization. Developing drilling and formation monitoring and "awareness" technologies for the first well(s) drilled in new environments may allow a radical reduction in the "learning curve." Information collection and storage, data reduction, interpretation and extrapolation to other similar situations to minimize costs and avoid failures fall within this category.
  3. Horizontal/Multilateral Drilling. Research in this area generally concerns the facility to target horizontal and multilateral wells (Horizontal from vertical, vertical from horizontal) to appropriately defined geological flow units and may utilize a holistic approach from formation characterization and drilling technologies to well stimulation and completion optimization. Technologies to be developed include those to optimize well-positioning, recovery and reservoir exploitation strategies; to minimize gas, water and sand production; and to minimize the need for workovers and stimulation. Emphasis shall also include short radius wells, using both coiled tubing and articulated pipe. An additional goal in this area is to develop techniques and equipment which would allow through-tubing re-entries, multilateral new wells and sidetrack recompletions.

Expense Reduction

  1. Water Management. Integrated water management strategy is the chief target in this research area, ranging from polymer water shutoff to downhole separation and reinjection, while incorporating advances in formation characterization and well targeting. In general, results from such research should increase the value associated with water handling, including reduced handling costs and a reduction in avoidable produced water volumes while increasing, at minimum costs, the water associated with increased oil production.
  2. Multi-Phase Fluid Handling. This research area is related to water management but is directed at technologies either in the reservoir or at the wellbore. It involves the separation of water, sand and gas and reinjection en route to the surface. The feasibility of these technologies and the understanding of the impact of such control measures on well productivity are also included in this area.
  3. Hydrates, Paraffin and Scale. Solids deposition of hydrates, paraffin and scale, affects production rate. In-situ remediation, separation or reinjection of stimulation fluids and the prevention of the formation of all these substances are the drivers of the work in this research area. Prevention of gas hydrates deposition with existing processes requires a substantial investment of up to 15% of production costs.

Production Rate

  1. Damage Prevention. The next generations of drilling and workover fluids are the target in this research area. Drilling fluid damage in horizontal wells is costly because of reductions in production rate, increased costs and the difficulty of stimulation. (Even if a damaged horizontal well produces more than a vertical well, this should not be acceptable since an undamaged horizontal well could result in considerably larger productivity indexes.)
  2. Horizontal/Multilateral Wells: Stimulation and Completions. Recent and imminent advances in drilling technology are exceeding the operating technologies to produce horizontal and multilateral wells to their natural life cycles. Developing technologies to complement advances in drilling technology is the focus of this research area. Appropriate stimulation and completion technologies, while theoretically speculated, have either not matured or are non-existent. Matrix and hydraulic fracturing technologies with appropriate completion, zonal isolation, instrumentation and equipment are needed to exploit advances in drilling technology. Long-term advances may, for example, involve the use of vibrating equipment in-situ with horizontal well couplets.
  3. Advanced Completions Technology. Smart well completions and advanced well surveillance will create opportunities for impact in the future. A next generation of completion equipment and methods is envisioned which will dramatically improve wellbore production control and permit optimized reservoir depletion. Research envisioned in this area includes through-tubing operations as well as continuous downhole production monitoring, flow characterization, production allocation and flow regulation. When coupled with surface facilities, system optimization may result in substantial uplifts in large multi-well developments.

Reservoir Evaluation

  1. Imaging Fluids. Tools and methods to image fluids at distances of 200 meters from a well at a resolution of 10 meters thickness are needed for fluid injection, well behavior and optimized development decisions. "4D seismic" measurements are the first level of such technologies, but the creation of tools beyond seismic is the focus of this area of research.
  2. Reservoir Characterization. Computer models of oil and gas production that serve as the basis for many investment decisions and reservoir exploitation strategies are commonly based on inadequate descriptions of the reservoir properties and process physics. This area of basic experimental research is needed to define the physics of the coupled fluid/rock system as it exists at reservoir conditions of stress and temperature. Improved reservoir description and continuous downhole monitoring techniques are also envisioned in this area.
  3. Well Testing. This research area centers around developing better methods for both design and interpretation of well tests to detect reservoir heterogeneity (e.g. reservoir boundaries or changes in permeability). Current well test interpretations often rely on simple reservoir models and simple well test designs (constant flow rates, for example). With new, fast reservoir simulators, the opportunity exists for considering more complex models and well test designs. Other aspects of well testing that could be included involve the expanded use of permanent downhole gauges as a routine reservoir pressure surveillance tool.

Revised and accepted by Management Committee 8/97.