Executive Summary

Dean Oliver, University of Oklahoma, Norman

Who Reads SPE Journal?

When potential authors select an SPE journal for submission of their manuscripts, they should encounter (and read) a description of the journal. The current description for SPE Journal reads, "Technical journal focusing on fundamental scientific research pertaining to exploration and production of hydrocarbon resources including laboratory and field research, numerical studies, and theoretical analysis." When manuscripts are submitted toSPE J., they are first measured against this standard. Many excellent manuscripts are declined because it is clear that they contain no fundamental scientific research--they have been submitted to an inappropriate journal. A second broad group of manuscripts are declined because the research they describe does not pertain to exploration and production of hydrocarbon resources. Manuscripts on causes of obesity on offshore platforms almost certainly fall into this category.

Some categories of manuscripts are more difficult to classify. In particular, note that the subject of the first paper in this issue of SPE J. is bias in forecasts of investment profit. By strict standards, it could be said that the manuscript does not address exploration and production of hydrocarbon resources; yet, it was selected because uncertainty and the use of Bayesian updating to remove bias are closely related to topics that are key components of this journal.

Another topic that has sometimes been difficult to justify from the description of SPE J. is CO2  sequestration. Again, by strict interpretation, it does not seem to meet the criterion that the research must pertain to exploration and production of hydrocarbon resources; yet, there is considerable overlap in technology and, of course, hydrocarbon reservoirs may be suitable sequestration locations.

The question of appropriate topics suggests a related question: What do readers of SPE J. expect to see in the journal? This is a difficult question, one that would best be answered by a survey, but some indication of interest can be gleaned from citation records. Papers that have been cited frequently in the scientific literature have established that they have attracted a significant level of interest from other researchers. We might be able to make some conclusions about the interest level in certain topics by investigating the citation rates of papers inSPE J. However, the investigations should be done on papers that have been in print for several years, papers that have had time to be cited. Therefore, I looked at citation rates for all papers published in SPE J. in 2005.

The results are quite interesting. The 45 papers published were cited 126 times, or nearly three times per paper. The distribution is far from uniform, however, as seen in Fig. 1. In particular, note that, while nine papers have not yet been cited and fifteen have been cited only once through April 2009, three papers published in 2005 have been cited 15 or more times. Two of the top three papers were about CO2 sequestration; the third was about the ensemble Kalman filter.

There is an irony in the fact that the topic of CO2 sequestration in deep saline aquifers was considered possibly inappropriate for SPE J. based on the description of the journal, yet the papers that SPE J. published on that subject are among the most highly cited for that year. We might conclude that readers of SPE J. are not averse to papers on CO2 sequestration. The subject of the third highly cited paper was the use of the ensemble Kalman filter for reservoir monitoring.

The subjects of the 2005 papers that have been cited four to eight times include laboratory investigations of pore-scale geometry and water blocking (2), history matching (2), numerical analysis of heavy-oil production (1), and composition routes in ternary systems (1). Other than the fact that all of the papers with relatively high citation rates are related to reservoir engineering, there are few surprises in the topics. Even the distribution of citations comes close to following the Pareto principle (also known as the 80/20 rule). In this case, 80% of the citations are generated by 35% of the papers (Fig. 2).

Changes to the Board

In other matters, I would like to welcome six new associate editors to the SPE J. editorial board: Zuleima Karpyn, Knut-Andreas Lie, Younane Abousleiman, Amy Kan, Randy Seright, and Gaoming Li. Each editor brings valuable expertise in an area that is important to the focus of SPE J. Adding associate editors is important to ensure that manuscripts are reviewed thoroughly and relatively quickly. I would also like to acknowledge the valuable service to the board provided by Sigurd Aanonsen, who recently retired from the board as an associate editor.