Petroleum engineering makes use of technology in a variety of ways depending on the specialization that you are working in. The reason for this is because the ability to extract hydrocarbons has become more complex as the terrain has become more difficult including deep-water, arctic and desert conditions.
Therefore, new solutions have had to be constructed in order to access these hard to reach deposits and this means that Petroleum Engineers need to understand different areas such as thermo-hydraulics, geo-mechanics and intelligent systems. As a result petroleum engineering technology applications have played an increasing role in aiding engineers in their work.
Technology Timeline (1848-1960)
1848 World’s First Oil Well (in Azerbaijan)
1859 Oil Discovered in USA
1878 First Oil Tanker, designed by Nobel (Sweden)
1891 First Gasoline Engine (Daimler)
1901 First US Deep Oil Well (Spindletop, Texas)
1909 Roller-Cone Drill Bit (Hughes and Sharp)
1927 Electrical Logging (France)
1929 Controlled Directional Drilling (H. John Eastman)
1933 Tricone Roller-Cone Drill Bit
1935 Catalytic Cracking
1941 First Horizontal Well Drilling
1949 First Commercial Hydraulic Fracturing
1949 Offshore Drilling
1954 Jack-up Drilling Rig
1958 First Pipelay Vessel Launched
1959 Offshore Alaska; Rotating Hoists; High-Temperature Cement
I enjoyed the old-school delivery and bombast of this one:
And this one is more of a documentary style – might be a bit easier to watch if you find the first one a bit slow and boring!
Technology Timeline (1961-1982)
1961 Use of guar in fracturing fluid; Digital Dipmeter Logs; Shell completes first subsea well
1962 Semisubmursible Drilling; Coiled Tubing Unit
1964 Invert Emulsions
1965 Deepwater Coring
1966 Thermal Decay Time Tool
1967 Oil Sands Commercial production starts in Alberta, Canada; Subsea Completion
1969 O-ring sealed journal bearing drill bit
1970 Deepwater Mining; Bright-spot seismic technology
1971 Logging System
1972 Polycrystalline diamond compact drill bit; Mud-pulse Telemetry
1974 Ship-shape Production
1977 Floating Production Storage; First pipelay barges with 1,000-ft capability; Trans-Alaska oil pipeline
1980 Electrical Submersible Pump
1982 First commercial offshore horizontal well; Tubing-conveyed Perforation; 3D seismic processing
Technology in Reservoir Petroleum Engineering
To start, Reservoir Engineers are responsible for analyzing and determining whether a particular field deposit is feasible for extraction. In order to do this, they need to estimate the amount of hydrocarbons stored in the field and then determine the best ways to access it.
Reservoir Engineers use technology such as advanced computers to construct detailed models of reservoir capacity based on field data received by intelligent sensors and test drill samples. Then detailed statistical analysis is done using the latest mathematical packages to determine the field’s potential capacity. Once this is done, the engineer can use multi-cell simulation software to determine the best drill location for a field and the type of drilling technology that will be most effective.
Finally, Reservoir Engineers also provide production projections to determine which type of wells will produce the best output. For this, powerful forecasting tools are used to help the engineer determine the optimal flow and the resulting revenue that can be earned from a particular field.
Technology Timeline (1983-19)
1983 Guyed Tower; Logging While Drilling; Subsalt Drilling
1984 Steerable Drilling; Tension-Leg Platform
1991 3D seismic modelling; Guidelineless Subsea Tree
1993 Multilateral Valves; Subsea Electrical Submersible Pump; First Floating Production Facility
1994 Multilateral Completion; Campos Basin; 4D Seismic
1995 Triple Combo Logging Platform
1996 Sonic Imaging; First large liquid natural gas (LNG) exporting facility (Qatar); Through-tubing Multilateral Intervention
1997 Rotary Closed Loop Drilling System; Intelligent Wells
1999 Dual-activity Drillships (Discoverer Enterprise)
2000 Marine Seismic
2001 Subsea Christmas Tree
2003 Semisubmersible Host Facility (Na Kika)
2004 High-performance water-based mud (Baker Hughes)
2007 Jack Well reaches 7000ft in water
Technology for Production Engineers
For Drilling and Production Engineers, their job profile includes two roles which have technology applications. The first is in determining the best equipment needed for productive drilling and extraction operations. For this, the engineer needs to be able to design a variety of different tools and equipment based on the terrain and strata of the field. To achieve this, they use advanced computer aided design (CAD) software to aid in the design process to build cost-effective but efficient machinery.
Secondly, these engineers help design and contribute to the operating systems that run the machines involved in the drilling and extraction process, as well as actually operate the machines themselves. A typical technology application is the use of computer-controlled drilling or fracturing to connect disparate areas of an oil and gas deposit to a single well, thereby reducing costs and increasing output at the same time.
The Importance of Petroleum Engineering Technology
Petroleum engineering technology continues to improve and there have been advances in computer modeling and simulation, statistical and probability analysis, as well new technical innovations such as horizontal drilling and enhanced oil recovery. These applications and technologies have substantially improved the tools used by the Petroleum Engineer in recent years, and they will continue to play an important part in their activities as they seek to research and develop new ways to extract new deposits, while lowering the cost of drilling and production.