In a world of fluctuating energy prices, natural and man-made disasters and geopolitical instability, often the only certainty is uncertainty.
To thrive in this environment, companies and leaders tasked with supplying the world’s energy must find ways to reduce risk and to improve decision-making.
A strategy gaining force in recent years is “integration,” the practice of combining disparate teams to complete single projects.
Integrated teams are increasingly common in the energy sector, where single business units include geologists, geophysicists, petrophysicists, engineers and other professionals who work on a common project.
Companies also seek integrated information, combining geological and geophysical data, for example, to develop a complete picture of subsurface conditions before drilling a well.
Integration concepts will be a topic of global attention at AAPG’s International Conference and Exhibition this month in Cape Town, South Africa.
“Integration to Mitigate Uncertainty,” a session chaired by James Faroppa of C&C Reservoirs and Anwar Al-Beaiji of Saudi Aramco, focuses on how both integrated data and integrated teams can help companies minimize risk and maximize results.
Integration and Cooperation
Faroppa, C&C’s CEO and chief geoscientist, described integration as “cooperation, the ability to bring together different skills and perspectives that can deliver against the task in hand.”
Faroppa said he began to understand the importance of integration the first time he was involved in planning and drilling a well.
“Until that point I was a seismic interpreter, which at times can be a very solo task,” he said. “Safely and effectively completing a drilling campaign requires the integration of many team members.”
AAPG Member Arnab Ghosh, principal geologist at Cairn India, shared a similar experience.
“In the beginning of my career while working on a project, I was pretty happy with the detailed work I had undertaken,” he said. “Soon, I realized it was all wrong as I have not looked into and considered information from other disciplines.”
Ghosh described integration as “the most important aspect of subsurface understanding.”
He will share his perspectives at the ICE session in his presentation “Integration of Geological Understanding with Geophysical Techniques for Better Reservoir Characterization: A Case Study in Ravva Block.”
Cairn Oil & Gas, which Ghosh said is a “vertical” of Vedanta Limited, is the operator with 22.5 percent operating interest in the Ravva block in Eastern India. The company uses reservoir characterization and management to optimize existing activity and to find new opportunities.
Ghosh is responsible for all geological activity in the block, including reservoir modeling, reservoir characterization, production optimization activity, well planning operations and maturing near field exploration opportunities.
His day-to-day work emphasizes the importance of incorporating data across disciplines.
Ghosh noted that integrated teams produce complete, high-quality projects, and they finish their work more quickly than non-integrated teams.
“Without integration the same work needs to be redone many times,” he said.
Integration and Teamwork
Session presenter and AAPG Member Damian Kelly will discuss how Tullow used integration to interpret the deepwater channel axis, channel margin and levee/overbank facies belts in the stratigraphically-complex Enyenra field in offshore Ghana.
As principal development geophysicist, Kelly interprets seismic data to facilitate building reservoir models and to inform planning for drilling offset-stacked channel pay-sands.
Kelly forms a part of Tullow’s TEN Team, a multidisciplinary subsurface team that works on the Tweneboa, Enyenra and Ntomme fields for which the team is named.
Kelly described how the office setup helps to facilitate teamwork and collaboration.
“In our open-plan office, the team sits in close-proximity and works collaboratively – consulting with each other individually or in small sub-groups when necessary and also in meetings to discuss broader project and operations-related issues,” he said. “It works well.”
Kelly said the TEN team’s conceptual thinking and frequent interaction among geophysicists, sedimentologists, reservoir engineers, rock physicists and petrophysicists were key to building a successful reservoir model for Enyenra.
“Integration enables the early and fullest incorporation of the key project elements and produces an aligned and efficient project team which can then work the best, holistic solution in the time available,” he said.
“A highly-capable and collaborative team has the best chance of getting it right the first time, or at least the best-possible answer in the allotted time. The team - the organization - learns and grows. And it’s a fun, shared experience – very rewarding; and conducive a positive, ‘can-do’ office culture.”
A Culture of Integration
Ghosh and Faroppa said they feel fortunate to work for companies who embrace integration as a part of the culture.
“All my team members are very open to new information and ideas and eager to integrate it,” Ghosh said.
Faroppa described his company’s integration as “exceptional.”
“We are a small company with big ambition and a winning idea. To leverage the value of prior investments in the oil and gas industry through the detailed, multidisciplinary study of global oil and gas fields,” he said. “For us to be successful integration is a prerequisite.”
Kelly said his formation as a geophysicist helped him embrace integration early in his career.
“Pretty much all geophysical tasks, say from synthetic-tie generation to reservoir characterization, involves some contributions from, or at least some understanding of, the closely-related sub-surface disciplines,” he said. “The advent of (prestack depth migration) technology, and the increasing prominence and key importance of rock-physics over the past decade for me has heightened the need to think and work ‘multidisciplinary.’”
Challenges to Implementation
Faroppa noted that achieving integration company-wide might be easier said than done.
“All agree integration and cooperation are required, yet very few fully integrate,” he said. “It is not a conscious choice to avoid integration; rather, the systems and linear processes that many companies put in place do not support integration.”
For Faroppa, the principal obstacles to are planning and communication.
“Both (planning and communication) need good organization and a supportive IT infrastructure,” he said. “If we don’t communicate we can’t integrate, and with a globally distributed, team we have to ensure we communicate regularly.”
Ghosh added that individual communication holds vital importance.
“Some people may struggle with understanding a colleague’s different point of view and their reason for drawing a conclusion. They also may struggle with properly stating their own view with facts and examples,” he said. “If they experience resistance, demonstrating the importance of integration and what benefits it can bring along can help them to overcome that resistance.”
“Resistance can be overcome through an open, relaxed environment where it is agreed that we are all learning, all willing to support the other, and that it is clearly in the interest of the common and individual good to work-in with each other,” he said. “Respect is key.”
Ghosh and Kelly will join three other presenters for the ICE session, which includes other case studies from Saudi Arabia and offshore Africa.
Presenters will explain how their companies used integration to increase end-user value, lower reservoir fluid prediction risk, implement reservoir models and enhance reservoir characterization.
Ghosh said he looks forward to presenting at ICE, which he considers a unique opportunity to share and learn about best industry practices.
“An international platform like this is a rare event and should not be missed,” he said.
Faroppa said he decided to chair the session “to have the best seat in the house to listen to the debate and be part of improving integration across the industry.”
Both look forward to hearing about both success stories and lessons learned.
“Often, stories of what has been tried and didn’t work can be as informative as the best practices,” Faroppa said.