Completing The Cycle

If necessity is the mother of invention, then the oil and gas industry has effectively reinvented itself during the course of the past few years. Faced with a precarious future as the price of oil bottomed out at $26/bbl in 2016, oil companies went back to the drawing board to ensure their survival. Once the difficult cuts were made, producers and service companies turned to operations in search of efficiency gains, and those gains and improvements were found across the board with enhanced drilling precision, more accurate reservoir analysis tools and better well design.

But no other factor has led to the oil production renaissance more than enhanced completion designs. In fact, in a November 2017 report by The Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, authors Trisha Curtis and Ben Montalbano said completions that feature increased uses of proppant and higher fluid volumes are the primary reason for record production.

“As important as drilling efficiencies and precision are, the most meaningful advances made during the downturn are related to completion designs,” the report stated. “Operators and service companies continue to experiment with and tweak completion designs, usually resulting in positive outcomes. The use of greater sand (proppant) and water (fluid) volumes has paved the way to productivity gains in multiple plays and is probably the single largest contributor to recent productivity advances.”

This month’s E&P cover story focuses on advancements in completions and the types of systems and tools that are enabling producers to set production records. TGT Oilfield Services reports on how creating reservoir profiles can enable better well and field management decisions, while Liberty Oilfield Services shares how physics-based multivariate analysis helps optimize completions. Finally, Quantico pushes forward the trend toward digitalization by addressing how subsurface artificial intelligence systems can transform well completions.

It remains to be seen what, if anything, might limit completion efficiencies, but industry innovators are seizing the opportunity market conditions have afforded them. The features in this month’s cover story give an inside glimpse into a few of those innovations.