The Evolution of Petroleum Engineering as Applied to Oilfield Operations
- Earl Kipp (Chevron Oil Co.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- January 1971
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 107 - 114
- 1971. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 5.2.1 Phase Behavior and PVT Measurements, 3.2.3 Hydraulic Fracturing Design, Implementation and Optimisation, 1.10 Drilling Equipment, 3.1.1 Beam and related pumping techniques, 1.6 Drilling Operations, 5.2 Reservoir Fluid Dynamics, 3.1 Artificial Lift Systems, 1.14 Casing and Cementing, 1.12.3 Mud logging / Surface Measurements, 1.6.6 Directional Drilling, 3 Production and Well Operations, 2.2.2 Perforating, 2.4.5 Gravel pack design & evaluation, 5.8.5 Oil Sand, Oil Shale, Bitumen, 4.6 Natural Gas, 2.4.3 Sand/Solids Control, 2 Well Completion, 4.5.2 Platform Design, 4.2.3 Materials and Corrosion, 6.1.5 Human Resources, Competence and Training, 3.1.6 Gas Lift, 3.2.4 Acidising, 1.11 Drilling Fluids and Materials
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It's a long way from a $135-a-month roustabout to a $900-a-month automated reservoir engineer. But that's how far the inexperienced petroleum engineering graduate has come in a little more than thirty years. Care to guess where we go from here?
The foundations of Petroleum Engineering were laid in California in 1889. The Kern Trading and Oil Co. organized a drilling and production division. M. E. Lombardi was in charge of drilling and Cyrus McLaughlin headed up producing operations. By 1907, there were five "resident geologists" in the oil fields, Their main job was to correlate producing zones and water zones from well to well. California operators had considerable trouble in preventing extraneous water from entering producing zones because of the proximity of top water to oil sands. The technical proximity of top water to oil sands. The technical knowledge of these pioneers resulted in a high percentage of water-free completions.
Recognition of the potential of oilfield technology was rapid. The AIME in 1913 set up a Technical Committee on Petroleum, with Captain Lucas as its first chairman. The U. S. Bureau of Mines organized the Oil and Gas Div. in 1914; The California State Mining Bureau set up its Div. of Oil and Gas in 1915.
Petroleum technology courses were taught in a number of colleges, but the first school to bestow a degree in Petroleum Engineering was the U. of Pittsburgh in 1915. Of the first four graduates to receive Pittsburgh in 1915. Of the first four graduates to receive the degree, it is interesting to note that two were Chinese.
Most of the technical work between 1900 and 1920 consisted of picking casing points, performing water shutoff tests, designing casing strings, and improving rod pumping and drilling practices. Rotary drilling had its beginning in Spindletop, and was adopted in California in 1908. Other producing areas adopted rotary drilling rapidly.
By 1916, the function of solution gas as the primary source of energy in producing oil was being recognized.
The growing importance of Petroleum Engineering to the oil industry in the 1920 to 1930 period must be viewed in relation to the environment in which the industry operated. The Rule of Capture was supreme. Wells were drilled on close spacing patterns of 5 to 10 acres/well, and were produced at maximum rates. Thus the normal duties of the petroleum engineer were to improve drilling practices, keep wells flowing at high rates by using chokes and proper tubing size, set packers to shut off gas or water, and design rod-pumping and gas-lifting equipment for wells that would no longer flow.
Studies were conducted on the effect of back pressure in reducing GOR's and the relationship of GOR's pressure in reducing GOR's and the relationship of GOR's to the decline in production rate. As wells became deeper, drilling mud technology advanced. Directional drilling became common practice.
A new era for the industry started about 1930. With the discovery and development of the East Texas field and the Great Depression, the oil industry was in rather dire economic straits. The Law of Capture would no longer work, since there was no market for the oil and gas produced. Proration of production became the only way to adjust to market demand the production rates between wells and fields. production rates between wells and fields. JPT
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