Independent producers in the U.S. are more interested in development technology than exploration subjects.

It's not a surprise, just validation of a trend.

Independent producers in the U.S. are more interested in development technology than exploration subjects.

Development? Independents?

Of course. Independents now own most of the mature oil fields in the U.S., the majors having turned their attention to the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska, and opportunities outside the U.S.

Mature fields mean development and reservoir management, which means enhanced oil recovery, 4D seismic, and other technologies considered as recently as 10 years ago to fall mainly the province of large, integrated producers.

A survey by the Petroleum Technology Transfer Council reflects this growth by independents into new functions and interests.

Among seven categories tested by the survey, "development and reservoir" and "drilling and completion" both outranked "exploration" in priorities identified by independent producers.

The survey attracted 234 responses, two thirds of them from independents. Although the sample was small, PTTC said findings conform with feedback it receives in its work in technology transfer with its primary audience, small independent oil and gas operators.

The survey divided each of the seven categories into several topics, which it further divided into subtopics. It asked respondents to assign priorities-low, medium, and high-to each of the 59 subtopics. Respondents also had a "not-applicable" option.

In the development and reservoir category, PTTC says in its summary report, operators reflected strong interest in technologies that help them 1) identify unswept/behind-pipe potential (including advanced logging and well testing), 2) identify in-field development potential with geologic targeting (including reservoir characterization), and 3) increase recovery with improved oil recovery methods.

In the drilling and completion category, independents repeated interest expressed in the development and reservoir category in logging technology advances. They showed specific interest in cementing, perforating, acidizing, and advanced hydraulic fracturing.

The highest-ranked subcategory in the operations and production category relates to advanced stimulation technologies applicable to both new and existing wells.

In exploration, independents showed most interest in play or basin analysis. "This reflects that data organized by geological play is of great value to independents in finding overlooked opportunities in mature areas," PTTC said. That exploration category didn't rank as high as the development and drilling areas, it said, "may be because independents have strong confidence in their ability to explore for hydrocarbons, especially now that most are quite familiar with 3D seismic imaging."

Ranking lower than exploration were categories for information technology and environmental and regulatory subjects.

Survey details appear on PTTC's web site at

They reflect the evolution that independent producers have undergone while assuming custody for mature oil and gas reserves in the U.S.

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