Like me, you will no doubt be overwhelmed by what seems like a torrent of new, self-proposed technology developments hitting the oil and gas market. But how many really deliver the sought after solutions to age old problems?
Innovation, in its classical sense, is any new idea, process or solution to a problem. However, I believe we are too often producing fads in the guise of innovational process rather than applying truly new and significant advances for our industry.
How long has our industry been talking about intelligent wells coupled with improved digital data to enhance reservoir recovery factors?
How big have those innovative leaps really been or are they simply small steps in a long journey to the solution? The ideas that bring significant changes are what we should be heralding and measuring as true innovation in our industry. I call this efficacious innovation – developing real answers to real problems that allow us all to march forward.
In reservoir recovery, it seems we are so focused on capturing data that we are missing the real crux of the problem – to put that invaluable information to work to significantly improve very low recovery factors.
A new dawn
All major industries go through a reset or awakening every now and then. That’s a good thing.
However, this industry is not in a cycle as we know it but rather a realignment. There is no peak oil theory to worry about and no
foreseeable lack of energy.
I believe we are at the inflection point in the creation of a nimbler, more innovative industry with plenty of upside. It is innovation that will allow the sector to produce energy more economically and efficiently.
I challenge service companies that have survived the 2014 oil price crash and want to remain relevant to produce innovation based on
causation. Experience proves there’s no need or want for cool stuff that’s a “fast-follower twist” on something already in the market.
Now is the time for truly efficacious innovation with purpose that solves the problem at hand – more recovery for fewer dollars spent.
Where will this come from? Not necessarily the usual suspects. There is an opportunity for the upstream services sector – with help, support and investment from the operator community – to quickly reshape an industry that can easily operate under $60/bbl.
For those willing to be agile and innovative, 2019 should be an opportunity to grow and prosper in the upstream sector as investment shifts to efficient execution.
Completions take centre stage
As the industry finally recognises the tremendous upside in maximising the reservoir, the past decade has seen a strong shift in focus towards completions. Nanomaterials, designer metals, fluids and specialty techniques are producing much more cost-effective completions hardware.
Despite this, we still struggle with gathering reservoir information in real-time to produce a longer lasting, more efficient completion that
optimises reservoir recovery.
By strengthening the marriage between digital information and dynamic well equipment, the
industry can increase recovery factors by allowing technology to self-heal or adapt to changing environments and economies over time.
I believe the industry is on the verge of the internet’s transformation from hard-wired to wireless. The ability to allow downhole completions to autonomously gather data, communicate across wells and entire fields, and improve production without dictating restrictive hardware will truly revolutionise reservoir recovery.
As we continue to push towards these exciting breakthroughs, I challenge us all to use innovation not as a buzzword but as a term for
something truly inspiring, game-changing or, at the very least, has a meaningful impact to the industry.