Innovation: Innovation in Our Industry
- Egbert Imomoh (2013 SPE President)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- October 2012
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 14 - 17
- 2012. Copyright is retained by the author. This document is distributed by SPE with the permission of the author. Contact the author for permission to use material from this document.
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In spite of persistent global economic turmoil, various sources predict that the world will continue to need increasing volumes of hydrocarbons to support a growing population and to improve the standard of living in areas where standards are currently low. Therefore, our industry will need to continue to find and produce hydrocarbons from additional resources in increasingly complex regions and geological settings. This will make the activities in our industry more difficult and expensive and will present new challenges that will call for innovative solutions.
There is a general and well grounded belief that we still have many opportunities, in both green and brown fields. The challenge is how to bring production from these fields to the market in a manner that is cost-effective, safe, environmentally and host-community friendly, using mature and well tested techniques, equipment, and processes while we explore innovative ways to continuously improve our methods.
We live in a world where the pressure on resources will demand that smaller and smaller amounts of materials and efforts will accomplish more and more, thus achieving “ephemeralization,” (Fuller, 1938) a word that Buckminster Fuller, an American inventor, used to describe progressively accomplishing more with less. This pressure, among other factors, has driven innovation in our industry. I will examine some of the game changers that have shaped our industry in the last 10 to 20 years in my JPT columns in the coming months.
Innovation has always played a very important role in our industry, but some-times I wonder if we under-estimate this role. Does constant contact with what we have today make us forget that such techniques were not always there and that some innovative mind brought about the new ways we now enjoy? Think about 3D seismic, deepwater drilling, horizontal drilling, some of the very sophisticated logging tools now in use, and reservoir characterization, to name only a few. The one sector outside our industry that has had a tremendous innovative impact is information technology—the effects of IT’s growth, new products, and adaptions introduced in the last 10 years has been phenomenal. How does innovation come about? What is it that makes a few of us use the huge fertility of our mind to challenge the known and seek better ways? A number of groups have studied this phenomenon and come up with what really drives innovation. I recently came across a study carried out by New & Improved, a global organizational development firm, which identified 10 things that really drive innovation (New & Improved® LLC. 2010). I have chosen to focus on the top two things: the individual and the team. I believe these are the main drivers of change in our industry.
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