Adapting The PRMS to Unconventional Resources


SPE s Role In Reserves Definitions Began 46 Years Ago SPE’s

 SPE Board appointed 12-man committee in 1962 –“Special

Committee On Definitions Of Proved Reserves For Property Evaluation

 Comprised of 2 oil companies, 1 gas pipe line, 1 college

professor, 2 banks, 2 insurance cos. and 4 consultants

Key sentence in 1965 definitions

PROVED RESERVES –The quantities of crude oil, natural gas and natural gas liquids which geological and engineering data demonstrate with reasonable certainty to be recoverable in the future from known oil and gas reservoirs under existing economic and operating conditions. They represent strictly technical judgments, and are not knowingly influenced by attitudes of conservatism or optimism.

What‟s new today?


For most of the hydrocarbon resources
They follow the same general estimation template:  Rock volume  Hydrocarbons in place  Development plan and execution  Capital funding for extraction methodology  Operating costs (including taxes)  Commercial recovery efficiency  Predicted production profile  Cash flow projections

Sub-classify by Project Maturity

The barrier to development
SPE PRMS defines “Justified for Development” “Implementation of the development project is justified on the basis of reasonable forecast commercial conditions at the time of reporting and that there are reasonable expectations that all necessary approvals/contracts will be obtained.” “ A project maturity sub-class that reflects the actions required to move a project forward toward commercial production.” ( PRMS Glossary –Appendix A)

Defining Unconventional Resources

What is “unconventional” today will be “conventional” tomorrow

The types we know till date
Coal Bed Methane (CBM (also known as Coal Seam Methane, CSM, and Natural Gas from Coal, NGC) is trapped by adsorption in micro-pores in coal, and is released when a pressure differential develops between the coal and fractures. These fractures usually contain water and require “dewatering” before any gas can be recovered.

The types we know till date
Bitumen is immobile because of its high viscosity, and is either recovered by mining or an in-situ processes that reduces the bitumen viscosity to the point where the bitumen will flow to a wellbore. At the present time, all these in-situ processes are thermal and reduce viscosity by heating the bitumen.

The types we know till date
Shale Gas is trapped by adsorption on the solid hydrocarbon, kerogen, and on clay particles. Recovery relies on desorption from the matrix due to a pressure differential and drainage through natural or induced fractures.

The types we know till date
So-called “Tight Gas” is held in low permeability reservoirs, sometimes “basin-centered” and deep. There is debate about whether these are merely poor quality conventional hydrodynamic reservoirs or if some other trapping mechanism is involved. Whatever the trapping mechanism, recovery probably depends largely on natural or induced fractures or the presence of higher permeability intervals.

Defining Unconventional Resources
It is no more than a useful empirical and informal practice to classify hydrocarbon accumulations as “conventional” and “unconventional”, since what is “unconventional” today will be “conventional” tomorrow. A more fundamental difference lies in the trapping mechanism and its influence on the production mechanisms.

Unconventional resources exist in petroleum accumulations that are pervasive throughout a large area and that are not significantly affected by hydrodynamic influences (also called “continuous-type deposits”). Examples include coal bed methane (CBM), basin-centered gas, shale gas, gas hydrates, natural bitumen, and oil shale deposits. Typically, such accumulations require specialized extraction technology (e.g., dewatering of CBM, massive fracturing programs for shale gas, steam and/or solvents to mobilize bitumen for in-situ recovery, and in some cases, mining activities). Moreover, the extracted petroleum may require significant processing prior to sale (e.g., bitumen upgraders).

Provided Guidelines
For these petroleum accumulations that are not significantly affected by hydrodynamic influences, reliance on continuous water contacts and pressure gradient analysis to interpret the extent of recoverable petroleum may not be possible. Thus, there typically is a need for increased sampling density to define uncertainty of in-place volumes, variations in quality of reservoir and hydrocarbons, and their detailed spatial distribution to support detailed design of specialized mining or in-situ extraction programs.

Provided Guidelines

It is intended that the resources definitions, together with the classification system, will be appropriate for all types of petroleum accumulations regardless of their in-place characteristics, extraction method applied, or degree of processing required

Provided Guidelines

Similar to improved recovery projects applied to conventional reservoirs, successful pilots or operating projects in the subject reservoir or successful projects in analogous reservoirs may be required to establish a distribution of recovery efficiencies for nonconventional accumulations. Such pilot projects may evaluate both extraction efficiency and the efficiency of unconventional processing facilities to derive sales products prior to custody transfer.

The prodigal estimate hindrance

The problem with an oil and gas “estimate” is that the only thing we know about it with certainty is that it is WRONG
And as is very evident, it is difficult to obtain a confident estimate upon the unconventional resources going by the current tools that we use.

Understanding the Analogs
Analogs are widely used in resources estimation, particularly in the exploration and early development stages, where direct measurement is limited. The methodology is based on the assumption that the analogous reservoir is comparable to the subject reservoir regarding reservoir and fluid properties that control ultimate recovery of petroleum. By selecting appropriate analogs, where performance data based upon comparable development plans (including well type, well spacing and stimulation) are available, a similar production profile may be forecast. SPE PRMS 4.1.1

Understanding the Analogs
Analogs are defined by features and characteristics including, but not limited to, approximate depth, pressure, temperature, reservoir drive mechanism, original fluid content, reservoir fluid gravity, reservoir size, gross thickness, pay thickness, net-to-gross ratio, lithology, heterogeneity, porosity, permeability and development plan. Analogous reservoirs are formed by the same, or very similar, processes with regard to sedimentation, digenesis, pressure, temperature, chemical and mechanical history and structural deformation.

Understanding the Analogs
Comparison to several analogs may improve the range of uncertainty in estimated recoverable quantities from the subject reservoir. While reservoirs in the same geographical area and of the same age typically provide better analogs, such proximity alone may not be the primary consideration. In ALL CASES, evaluators should document the similarities and differences between the analog and the subject reservoir/project. Review of analog performance is useful in quality assurance of resource assessments at all stages of development.

What’s Missing in SPE Analogs for Unconventional Reservoirs?
Maybe terms like:  Organic richness  Thermal maturity  Depth & geological age  TOC  Vitrinite reflectance  Poisson‟s ratio  Stress profiles  Brittleness  Roughness  Sorption Isotherms  Seals  Completion efficiency

What does not apply
Terms not applicable:  Contacts  Lowest Known Hydrocarbons  Drive mechanisms  Saturations(?)  Net pay(?)  Structural position

What we finally get down to?
The environment is hostile to anyone who is not willing to innovate in this industry. In the wake of all hike in demand, we need a more efficient system of resource management when we talk of unconventionals. Redundant terms like lowest known contacts, saturation and others mentioned before should be modified/branched for a better application to unconventional resources

What are the likely benefits from a reorganization of the system?

Estimates of in-place „unconventional‟ oil and gas surpass the total amount of „conventional‟ oil, gas and coal combined present today on the planet. There are vast possibilities of newer arenas of energy development once we pass the barrier of underproductivity from unconventional resources.

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