Friday, March 5, 2021

The Core Shed

As part of a data transition project, I had the opportunity to speak with a group of high-level business consultants from a leading global firm, onsite to audit the change management plan between two organizations transferring a major producing oil field. This is the kind of conversation that makes it worth being a professional petroleum data manager. These gentlemen (and yes in this case they were all gentlemen) wanted to know all about the data types that would be important to operating the field after the handover. Remember these guys are used to doing audits on banks and internet companies, with no oilfield experience. We talked about digital geoscience data, real-time operational data from the production platforms, QSHE, maintenance and logistics records, asset registers from SAP, and personnel on board logs. They hung in pretty well until the end of the conversation, which went something like this: CG (Consultant Guy) So what other data types are there? DG: (Data Guy, that’s me) We have physical data too. CG: You mean like documents in offsite storage? DG: Yes, and some data we have stored in a core laboratory. CG: A core laboratory, what is it? DG: It’s a big building with an automated forklift, but that’s not important right now. DG: No seriously, what is it? DG: It’s a warehouse. CG: What’s in it? DG: Rocks. CG: Excuse me? DG: Rocks. We’re geologists, we study rocks, and we need someplace to keep them. CG: So the national oil company is paying to keep a building full of rocks? Surely you can’t be serious. DG: I am serious, and stop calling me Shirley. Actually, the rocks are quite valuable. CG: Like how much? DG: Well, when you consider the field acquisition and climate controlled storage ... CG: Wait, the rocks get climate controlled storage? DG: Yeah, otherwise boxes deteriorate, labels with critical metadata fall off, evaporative loss changes the water saturation, minerals can decay, … (noticing CG’s eyes glaze over) …and oil samples can degrade. CG: You keep your oil there too? DG: Yes, but only samples of fresh oil from the rocks … and then there is the CAT scan machine. CG: A CAT scan machine? For rocks? DG: Yeah, they run a scan on a rock sample, like they do on you in a hospital. CG: Like in a hospital? What is it? DG: It’s a big building where they keep sick people, but that’s not important right now. CG: No seriously, they do CAT scans on rocks? DG: Yeah, it lets you see internal structures like porosity, nodules, bedding and fractures … CG: They X-Ray rocks for fractures? Like they might have a broken bone in there? DG: Not quite, see there can be fractures in the rocks, and in a carbonate or shale reservoir the orientation of the fractures can help you … (seeing CG’s eyes glaze over again) … it can help support a decision about how to stimulate the reservoir. CG: You stimulate the rocks? DG: Yeah, sometimes we inject acid. CG: I totally believe that. Ok, so how much are these rocks worth? DG: Well like I was saying, if you count the value of the decisions being made, maybe around twenty million dollars. CG: Twenty million dollars of rocks? I gotta see this place. Where is it? DG: It’s about 90 kilometers from here CG: Can we go? DG: (Grabbing a cooler of beer) … ROAD TRIP!
Author’s note: If you have never seen a fully automated, research enabled core and sample library, it’s on the top 10 bucket list for Certified Petroleum Data Analysts

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