DOI: 10.2118/0723-0084-jpt ISSN:

Technology Focus: Unconventional and Tight Reservoirs (July 2023)

Larissa Walker
  • Strategy and Management
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Industrial relations
  • Fuel Technology

Unconventional reservoirs have always posed a myriad of engineering conundrums to solve to develop the vast resources contained in these challenging formations. Since the early 2000s, when macroeconomics and demand set the stage for “the great shale race,” energy companies have looked to technology to unlock these resources. As the demand for energy continues to increase, so does the sociopolitical demand that these resources be produced in a sustainable way. This reflective thought has defined this month’s selection of technical papers, each speaking to a different facet of this feature’s theme: unconventional reservoir development for a sustainable energy transition.

Starting with what we’ve learned with over 2 decades of unconventional exploration and development, there are many lessons the industry can apply across a wide variety of reservoir types and locations. The first paper highlighted this month speaks to the power of learning from others. From North America to the Middle East nations and on to the Asia Pacific region, companies have been able to trial quickly and pivot to new technologies by sharing learning from basin to basin. The Vaca Muerta in Argentina has benefited from associative learning in its journey from emerging basin to heartland resource for South America.

Big data is leading the way to innovation. By definition, unconventional reservoirs are burdened with poor permeability and, hence, require multiple wells or longer wells with multiple contact points to develop economic rates. This large data set means a large amount of information in a complex and heavily dependent matrix of wells and reservoir parameters. Digital technology has matured at an ever-increasing pace, enabling big data mining and harnessing understanding of these complex unconventional reservoirs. The second paper showcased this month shows an application of digital learning tools developed to place wells more efficiently in an intricate fluvial tight gas reservoir of mainland China.

Finally, the third paper selected for this month’s feature supports the idea of the fundamental center of unconventional technology being a breeding ground for innovation. Sustainability in the future of resource development presents the call for more and cleaner energy. The pioneering spirit of unconventionals is brimming with answers to that call through continued advancement of technology in novel ways.

Recommended additional reading at OnePetro:

SPE 207394 First Successful Pilot Testing of Unconventional Reservoir in North Kuwait From Scratch to Productivity by Zamzam Mohammed Ahmed, Kuwait Oil Company, et al.

SPE 211129 A Machine-Learning-Based Accelerated Approach To Infer the Breakdown Pressure of Tight Rocks by Zeeshan Tariq, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, et al.

SPE 207906 Future-Proofing the Development of Unconventional Resources in UAE by Viannet Okouma Mangha, ADVOC, et al.

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