The Role of Reservoir Geoscience in Sustainable Development

Meeting the petroleum needs of the present

In energy discussions, many conversations have focused on what must be done for the future.

This is only part of the sustainability definition.

There is also a responsibility to meet the needs of the present.

“Humanity has the ability to make development sustainable to ensure that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” reads the United Nations “Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future.”

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In energy discussions, many conversations have focused on what must be done for the future.

This is only part of the sustainability definition.

There is also a responsibility to meet the needs of the present.

“Humanity has the ability to make development sustainable to ensure that it meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs,” reads the United Nations “Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future.”

The petroleum industry meets the needs of the present by providing more than 50 percent of global energy needs today. Production from conventional fields makes up the majority of the nearly 100 million barrels per day in global demand. U.S. shale oil contributes the remainder and is projected to reach more than 10 million barrels per day by 2025 to meet global demand, according to the 2018 IEA World Energy Outlook.

Our role as geoscientists is to have the best understanding of stratigraphy, depositional facies, pore systems, reservoir properties and application of rock-based technology that allow us to maximize recovery of reserves within the economics of a project. AAPG has more than a century-long tradition to facilitate geoscience research, publications, short courses, field trips and conference technical sessions to share our petroleum reservoir knowledge and development of business strategies.

Development Geology Resources

AAPG has captured the fundamentals of reservoir geology and development in the classic 1992 publication, “Methods in Exploration 10: Development Geology Reference Manual,” edited by Diana Morton-Thompson and Arnold M. Woods. This comprehensive manual is divided into ten parts that cover aspects of development from the office to the wellsite to the lab. Parts 5, 6, and 10 on laboratory methods, geologic methods and reservoir engineering methods, respectively, are of particular value to geoscientists interested in the fundamentals of reservoirs.

“The Development Geology Reference Manual” is available through the Datapages website at Archives.Datapages.com. Datapages also has links to global field analogies via the “Treatise Atlas” publications. Selected content from “The Development Geology Reference Manual” and “The Treatise of Petroleum Geology” are also searchable through the AAPG Wiki at Wiki.AAPG.org. On the theme of “meeting the needs of the present,” the AAPG Wiki needs your help. The AAPG Wiki provides a collaborative space to capture and communicate the diverse technical knowledge and experiences of our industry.

Individual AAPG members as well as groups can contribute to the AAPG Wiki. Student chapters, young professionals or technical interest groups are encouraged to organize a “Wiki Write-Off” to contribute their geoscience and technology knowledge. AAPG’s sections and regions can also host forums to capture the unique qualities of the reservoirs in their area that encourage additional research, investment and re-development of reservoirs.

The AAPG Wiki is a digital way to connect multiple generations of petroleum geoscientists and capture global knowledge to meet the petroleum needs of the present.

The Greening of Brownfields

Many of our legacy fields that started out as “greenfields” and still produce to meet the needs of the present are now classified as mature or “brownfields.” Despite their long histories and production decline, they still make up the majority of today’s conventional production.

Our responsibility as an industry to provide sustainable petroleum development for the present should drive us to revisit these brownfields. Technology advances including the “industrial internet of things” are improving the economics to redevelop brownfields and maximize recovery of reserves. Government regulations require companies to maintain or upgrade facilities, but it is our industry’s continued commitment to health, environment and safety that sets and maintains the standard of excellence. Finally, there is a global understanding of sustainable development and social responsibility that now compels the petroleum industry to re-invest to make brownfields “green” again.

What Sustains You This Month?

This month I had the honor of speaking at the Kansas Geological Society Annual Banquet. I walked into a room where I knew only five people – AAPG Mid-Continent Section President Doug Davis, KGS President Beth Isern, KGS carbonate geologist Lynn Watney and long-time friends Jim and Ruth-Ann Womble. The topic of my talk was sustainable development and “recycling” or revitalizing petroleum basins. The group shared their ideas for Kansas reservoirs on how to maximize the recovery of reserves, revitalize brownfields and provide jobs to reenergize the geological community. I left having many new friends, a few new ideas and maybe a potential new partner. This is one of the things to love about the petroleum industry; the next project is just a new friendship away.

Let us know what AAPG resources help you look at mature fields in new ways. What are your ideas to maximize recovery of reserves and minimize environmental impact to make brownfields “green” again? #AAPGSustainsMe

Onward!

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