Executive Summary

A.R. Kovscek, Stanford University

This is my first issue as Executive Editor of SPE Journal. I would like to begin by acknowledging the tenure of Dean Oliver who served in this position from 2005 until this past October. Under Dean’s leadership, the number and quality of fundamental papers published in SPE Journal increased and the scope has broadened to embrace the full range of topics relevant to the petroleum engineering community. Dean has left his imprint on the journal, and his positive impact will be difficult to replicate. He has not truly left the journal, however, because he has agreed to continue to serve in the role of an associate editor.

While the other journals published by the SPE are specialized and center on a particular field of interest,SPE Journal features articles that span the breadth of the petroleum engineering discipline. It is in our charter, so to speak, to provide a forum for publication of the results from engineering science research. Technology application, as favored today in the petroleum industry, is built upon engineering science, and it is in this sense that I believe SPE Journal is foundational to the industry. As you look back on the articles published previously in SPE Journal, you see the underpinnings of the technology that is being applied today or is under development.

For example, this issue of SPE Journal contains several articles on numerical algorithms and results from pore-scale calculations of transport properties. SPE has published many articles on the estimation of rock properties using pore network and other pore-level models, beginning with the pioneering work of Irving Fatt in 1956. Of course, the topic has evolved significantly since then and has benefitted from improved computational speed and the ability to characterize the pore structure of rocks using, for example, X-ray computed tomography and thin sections. Although significant research remains to be conducted, it is gratifying to see pore-level modeling move into engineering practice. At least two companies now provide digital core analysis and transport property prediction services from cores or cuttings on a routine basis. Expanding the knowledge base through fundamental research clearly benefitted this nascent component of the petroleum industry.

The other articles published in this issue speak to the depth and breadth of investigations published in SPE Journal. I have categorized the 24 articles here roughly into areas of (1) single and multiphase flow in porous media, (2) oilfield chemistry, (3) optimization and uncertainty quantification, (4) well productivity and its improvement, and (5) varied topics. The last category features the diverse nature of petroleum engineering. Articles discuss seismic inversion constraints as related to fine-scale flow models, gridding to improve the coupling of flow and geomechanics in numerical simulations, the production potential of natural gas hydrates, and the buckling of pipe in horizontal wells. I hope that you enjoy the issue.

Finally, we welcome Josephine Schembre-McCabe of Chevron Energy Technology Company as an associate editor for SPE Journal.