Technological Game-Changers and the Geoscientist

Nanotechnology Gets Practical — that was the title of a recent article in SPE’s Journal of Petroleum Technology, and it was investigating the way in which a new class of nano-sized metal called nano-structural metal composites can be used to make large, multi-stage hydraulic fracturing jobs more economical and more effective.

As a geoscientist, you are probably intrigued by new technologies such as nanotechnology, but you may have wondered what this means for the future. In the case of new products and techniques used in hydraulic fracturing, it’s more important than ever for the geologists, geophysicists, engineers, and petrophysicists to work together as a team so that there is a good, shared understanding of the reservoir quality (and qualities), the lithology (in the well and in the play), geomechanics, image-able structures (and fractures), just to name a few.

Game-changing technology tends to put engineers and geophysicists in the driver’s seat. But, is that really advisable? Geologists provide a timely and cost-saving (and production optimizing) reality check, particularly as we begin to understand more about the extreme heterogeneity of our emerging resource plays. Sweet spots can be dramatically sweet, and barren stretches can be costly. Game-changing technologies will, of course, seek to optimize the process.

And, it’s really the process that is at issue right now. Technology emerges. Now, how to use it? A curious and well-rounded team of geoscientists would ask to try the new technology in the recommended way — but also in counter-intuitive ways, (responsibly, of course, with safety and respect for the environment paramount) — just in case a new application could have unforeseen positive results.

One of the emphases of AAPG’s GTWs is exploring game-changing technologies and talking about them openly in order to see if there are unexpected benefits in modifying the applications.

Last 5 posts by Susan Nash

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