Riding the Tide During Troubled Times With Mature Fields Management

Mature fields management through integrated asset teams and purpose-driven technology deployment

Energy in its various forms is the perennial building block that keeps this world ticking. The oil and gas industry is one of the most significant contributors to the ever evolving growth we see in everyday life. The impact of the current oil price on the global economy has been profound, with crude prices currently trading at more than 60% below the peak observed in Q2 2014. In this challenging environment, where revenue streams are getting constricted, exploration and new development budgets have taken the hardest hit. Even though initial knee jerk reaction to global oversupply seems to have subsided, there exists a strong sense of urgency for course correction, margin consolidation and capital discipline/transformation of the cost base across the oil and gas sector.

Mature Fields Management: Well Life Cycle

Mature Fields Management: Well Life Cycle

However, world thirst for hydrocarbons (oil and gas) is growing, a trend expected to continue for the foreseeable future. There is no doubt that there is a requirement to push forward future projects to meet future crude demand needs, despite the current uncertainty in the commodity market. Hence, the need of the hour is to improve current and future positions in the market, in order to emerge strongly when the revival starts. Optimal exploitations of current assets and management of existing cost bases without sacrificing the forward plans is becoming the key focal point for the oil and gas sector. The top-of-mind question is how and where to focus available cash so that both immediate and strategic goals can be satisfied.

Mature fields form the backbone of the oil and gas industry by contributing up to 70% of current global hydrocarbon supply. Given their low operating cost, existing infrastructure, and a robust understanding of the subsurface combined with availability of advanced production technology, continued investment in mature fields in the current environment emerges as the most effective strategy.

Over time, improvements in technology (like horizontal drilling, real time data acquisition, hydraulic fracturing, and advanced reservoir characterization tools among others) have greatly improved subsurface understanding and production efficiency. However, due to overlapping inefficient interdisciplinary processes and organizational structures, the identification and implementation of purpose-driven technology have been time consuming.

In the current environment, such practices are not acceptable. Mature fields management through integrated asset teams (comprised of various engineering and operational disciplines) has led to quick identification of purpose-driven production technology and fast track implementation. Such initiatives streamline development projects and result in robust capital discipline. Several operators have used internal resources and/or service companies [1] in their asset groups to great benefits. A few examples include:

  • Implementation of Digital Oil Field approach identified purpose-driven production technology and monitoring workflows enabled a Middle East operator [2] to achieve consolidated oil gain volume equivalent of 8% [3] in the first year of application.
  • Major North Sea operator reduced the project timeline by more than 40% [4] and fast tracked the time from discovery to production by 2.3 years than previously estimated.

Given the current environment, there is no better time than now to focus on mature fields. Investment in mature fields would be at a lower risk compared to exploration and greenfield projects. It will most likely help to stabilize revenue streams and yield positive return on the invested capital. The urgency in the industry to apply the necessary investment in integrated teams and technology for mature fields will be critical going forward.

For me and everyone in the industry, the old adage “The Time is Now” stands true.

KEY TAKEAWAYS
A nimble organization focused on capital discipline is essential to negotiate in the current slump in the oil and gas sector
Global downturn is cyclical, the upward swing will come
Sustained investment in oil and gas sector is crucial to manage current and future energy demands
Efficient mature field exploitation would enable sustainable revenue streams to support ongoing and future projects
Utilization of integrated asset teams will fast track identification and implementation of purpose-driven technology to exploit mature assets

References
1 SPE 110250: Saputelli, L. A., Lujan, L., Garibaldi, L., Smyth, J., Ungredda, A., Rodriguez, J., & Cullick, S. (2008, January 1). How Integrated Field Studies Help Asset Teams Make Optimal Field Development

2 SPE 167397: Al-Jasmi, A., Goel, H. K., Al-Abbasi, A., Nasr, H., Velasquez, G., Carvajal, G. A.,Scott, M. (2013, October 28). Maximizing the Value of Real-Time Operations for Diagnostic and Optimization at the Right Time (KwIDF Project)

3 SPE 167327: Anthony, E. P., Al-Enezi, B. A., Al-Mufarej, M., Moricca, G., Saputelli, L. A., & Kain, J. (2013, October 8). Value Generated Through Automated Workflows Using Digital Oilfield Concepts – Case Study

4 SPE-173014: Roger Tønnessen, Statoil; Richard Byrnes, Miguel Franco, and Keith Romaine, Halliburton Application of Lean Principles to Accelerate Project Development

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