A well-measured investment in mature fields is often a fraction of the cost of overhauling/replacing expensive surface facilities and conducting costly workovers.
Close to 70 percent of the world’s present oil and gas supplies come from mature fields. For some time, extending the life of these prized mature assets has been a subject of great concern to operators that intend to stay in business for the long haul. These assets can often be a very beneficial source of increasing an operator’s production (with a small investment), even increasing reserves with the proper diagnosis, as opposed to entirely new finds.
Investing in marginal fields can be significantly beneficial for investors who are prepared and open to applying proven approaches to reservoir/field management. Small operators today are under immense pressure to recover their investments and/or service loans, and so they tend to be less cautious about producing their fields when facing the dire alternative of mid- to long-term consequences. This approach leaves operators functioning reactively, rather than proactively, as the fields begin to present challenges typical with mature fields. Challenges often evolve into complex situations as field production begins to decline or when surface facilities are threatened with serious damage due to hostile well effluent. An already bad situation could worsen due to cash flow challenges and create a ripple effect of declining production, right at the point when interventions are most needed to address field challenges.
Timing is critical when it comes to mature field interventions, and a well-measured investment in a focused and sustained reservoir/field management approach is often a fraction of the cost of overhauling/replacing expensive surface facilities and conducting costly workovers. Such investments also improve an asset’s ability to produce optimally for much longer periods of time and, thus, significantly improve the recovery factor. As a result, operators can worry less about cash flow constraints and can properly plan and schedule needed interventions, which enable them to have a much better handle on their cash flow since their fields are delivering optimally and meeting or surpassing production targets.
One might want to ask why operators shy away from making this much needed, relatively small investment in a fully integrated and functional Field Development Plan (FDP) covering the life of their asset. Beyond the pressure of short-term financial gains, operators also often have valid concerns related to the cost required to set up and manage a properly planned intervention program. Where a well-established and capable service provider can help operators succeed is through the ability to clearly articulate investment requirements and return potential by delivering very comprehensive GAP analyses to qualify, quantify, and substantiate such investments over the life of the asset. A successful reservoir management program will ensure collaboration between teams, along with evaluation and re-evaluation of relevant key performance indicators (KPIs), continuous and consistent data gathering, and routine reservoir model updates, among other things. And, even if operators have previously experienced inadvertent costly missteps, a solutions-oriented service provider will consistently demonstrate an ability to create the “Wedge” that will reverse the decline trend and extend the life of mature assets.
When field challenges become overwhelming, it may seem daunting for operators to reconsider investing in further intervention initiatives. However, with today’s robust technologies (many of which may have been unavailable at the time of initial field development), in combination with proven collaborative workflows, it is fully possible to transition operators into a position of success, re-establish trust in the intervention process with service providers, and get things moving in the right direction again – all with a properly timed and relatively small investment.