Integration of Data and Disciplines for Unconventional Plays: Geomechanics, A Good Spot to Build A Junction

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The emergence of unconventional plays has been so rapid during the last decade that, despite tremendous progresses, the science of petroleum engineering, which has been initially developed to treat conventional plays, has not had enough time to catch up and provide the most optimal solutions for these plays yet. The truth is the complicated nature of these plays, along with the complexity of the technologies applied for their exploitation, seem to require much more integration of data and disciplines in comparison to conventional reservoirs. We may have been able to luckily survive with the least amount of interdisciplinary work for many conventional plays due to their high recovery rates and inexpensive production costs but the story has been quite different in the case of unconventional plays especially in the current state of oil and gas prices that is endangering the economic profitability of these reserves.

Fortunately, seeing it happening all around, it seems that almost the entire industry has realized the value and significance of integration of data and disciplines for development of these plays. In supposedly properly-designed integrated studies, different expertise need to come together, carefully listen to each other, re-orient and adjust their methodologies, tools and products based on the mutual needs, and handle the problem in a holistic approach. Although some successful cases of integration can be counted, unfortunately, some of the so-called ‘interdisciplinary works’ in the industry are mainly focused on one discipline while trying to outreach  others by implementing a simplistic understanding of them and, not surprisingly, mostly through broken knowledge of these disciplines.

As Richard Borden briefs us (see the quote below), human mind naturally tends to treat the science in an analytical approach and, therefore, integration has always been a major challenge for it. Ideally, for unconventional plays, we need to build integration teams (and I do not mean managing or lead positions in their current forms) who are specialists in doing this job but it seems that we are still far from this goal mainly because not all laws and methodologies of integration in unconventional plays are really clear and understood at the moment.

In the absence of professional integration teams, to design roadmaps for efficient development of unconventional plays, we need some meet-up places or ‘junctions’ where all the relevant data and expertise encounter each other, giving the experts an opportunity to exchange ideas, redefine their paths and continue on their ways. It is very important to locate these junctions properly to ensure the integration is performed efficiently. Definitely, more than one junction may be required for such a roadmap with so many unparalleled pathways and geomechanics (the actual science and not as has been narrow-mindedly butchered by some in industry) can be one of the excellent spots to build one of these junctions for different reasons and not just because of the geomechanically sensitive behaviour of the unconventional rocks but also due to the mechanical nature of operations such as drilling, completion and fracturin, the role of geomechanics in production from these plays, and the fact that, geomechanics has to deal with several different types of data from different disciplines to accomplish its goals successfully.

Borden Quote

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