Amoco petrophysics graduates tackle reservoir complexities

Aug. 3, 1998
How many years has integration of exploration and production geoscience disciplines been a buzz phrase in the oil and gas industry? Probably not as long as Amoco has been conducting a petrophysics program at its Tulsa, Okla., technology center. Amoco uses the program to develop its two greatest assets: people and reservoirs, said Jeff Johnson, manager of geoscience technology in Amoco's E&P Technology Group.
G. Alan Petzet
Exploration Editor
How many years has integration of exploration and production geoscience disciplines been a buzz phrase in the oil and gas industry? Probably not as long as Amoco has been conducting a petrophysics program at its Tulsa, Okla., technology center.

Amoco uses the program to develop its two greatest assets: people and reservoirs, said Jeff Johnson, manager of geoscience technology in Amoco's E&P Technology Group.

Geologists, geophysicists, engineers, and formation analysts attend the one year program, dubbed Petrophysics Center of Excellence, to become highly proficient at integrating multidiscipline technical data to solve business problems.

Petrophysics within Amoco is the synergistic process of integrating multiple disciplines to characterize and quantify rock, pore, and fluid systems (Fig. 1 [173,001 bytes]).

Who attends

Fourteen new candidates are arriving for the class that starts Aug. 3. About 300 people have taken the petrophysics program, which completed its 26th year in July 1998.

About 60% of the graduates are still with Amoco, whose E&P sector employs about 450 engineers and 500 geoscientists. The company's business units provide funds for participation.

Several who have taken the program in recent years hail from national oil companies and oil companies with whom Amoco is engaged in joint ventures. National oil company personnel have represented Azerbaijan, Venezuela, Mexico, Colombia, Egypt, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Those who attend usually have 5-20 years' industry experience. Some move their spouses and families to Tulsa; others commute every few weekends.

Amoco is committed to leading the E&P industry in state-of-the-art integrated technical training, said Gary W. Gunter, an engineer and team leader for the program.

"They come in as geologists, geophysicists, engineers, and formation analysts and leave as petrophysicists," Gunter said.

The courses

The first half of the year is dedicated to training seminars, and in the second half the participants apply technical integration to solving business unit problems.

The training phase includes 83 technical seminars (Fig. 2 [100,449 bytes]). Almost all of the material has been updated since 1992, with 61 new courses. Some of the newer offerings deal with nuclear magnetic resonance logging, core characterization, seismic coherency and attribute analysis, along with petrophysical rock typing coupled to flow units.

Technical integration within the petrophysics center is achieved using the Amoco Petrophysics Integration Process.

Instructors are about two thirds top industry experts-such as Larry Lake, Alistair Brown, Dan Hartmann, John Farina, and Bob Sneider-and one third Amoco experts.

Course time distribution works out to 7% each on geophysics and geology; 9% for log analysis; 3% for project management and computing; 9% for engineering; 15% for petrophysics integration and field trips; 50% on project analysis and integration.

Amoco has established an integrated core characterization center adjacent to the petrophysics center. Capabilities include petrophysical evaluation, seismic characterization, reservoir quality evaluation, sedimentological/stratigraphical characterization, and reservoir geomechanical/chemical stability evaluation.

The petrophysics program was not given for one year during the price downturn and downsizing turmoil of the mid 1980s. Today the portion of time devoted to integrated project evaluation is longer than it was in the course's early days.

At least one other major international oil company conducts petrophysical training, but the focus involves individuals moving into certain specialist teams for various time periods.

Project evaluation

Learning the principles of project management is a key goal within the petrophysics center, Johnson said.

The 12 participants in the year just ended have completed analyses that relate to Amoco's interests in the Azerbaijan Caspian Sea, Egypt Nile Delta, the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, Colombia, Trindad and Tobago, Wyoming, Canada, and U.K. North Sea. Their recommendations included new drilling locations, improved completion designs, better data acquisition programs, and exploitation opportunities.

"Technical integration requires professionals to be able to communicate and function across traditional technical disciplines," said Bob Rakai, the petrophysics discipline coach for Amoco Petrophysics. "This program provides the participants the opportunity to not only acquire multidiscipline skills and competencies but also to apply them in developing an integrated solution to a business problem."

Each participant evaluates a petrophysical data set. The data are collected from across the traditional E&P disciplines and include, in varying combinations, surface maps, seismic data, core, borehole measurements, core and fluid measurements, completion tests, well and field performance, and pressure histories.

Those taking the program are required to attend, participate, and evaluate all training seminars, workshops, and field trips; develop expertise in applied technologies outside their background discipline; apply integrated technologies to achieve project objectives; and report results on schedule and within budget using project management tools called Amoco Common Process.

The outcome

The projects completed this summer provide answers in assessing hydrocarbon prospects and discoveries, designing optimal well completions, predicting reservoir performance, evaluating reservoir depletion options, and improving reservoir management.

Each participant produces a highly comprehensive report comparable to a doctoral thesis that is focused on a company business problem.

The Amoco petrophysics program began in 1972. Since its inception, the program has been in a constant state of evolution to meet ever-changing technical integration needs.

Exploration concepts and understanding of reservoir properties that relate to Amoco's 1998 East Tanka Asl oil discovery in the Gulf of Suez partly originated with a 1992 petrophysical project (OGJ, June 22, 1998, p. 82).

Continued success of the program is closely tied to the economic benefits the company gains from the projects (see table [35,344 bytes]) and the professional growth of the participants.

"Many of these people end up being technical and business leaders in the company," Johnson noted.

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