First of all a bit of an intro.
A copy of "Heritage of the Petroleum Geologist" published by AAPG's Division of Professional Affairs was mailed to all Student Chapters last year. If your Chapter did not receive a copy please let me know and I will send your Chapter a copy. I sent this because I thought that young Geologists could benefit from the advice from those that have been there. In particular I liked reading the profile of AAPG legend Bob Cowdery who is a former AAPG President.
I asked Mr. Cowdery if I could post some of his thoughts here. He said yes, so enjoy.
Down to the Last Drop – searching for that last sandstone lense or porosity pod, even when average field sizes and per well recoveries have dwindled to sub-economic levels’
Give Me Those Old-Time Successes –Thinking that the successes one enjoyed in a play two or three decades ago as a young geologist could be repeated today
Old MacDonald (also known as “Here a Well, There a Well”) –dispersing your exploration effort so widely that you never drill enough wells in any one play to learn which factors separate the successes from the failures.
Worse Late than Never – getting into a hot play after the originators of the play have already identified the best possibilities and are eager to unload unwanted acreage at premium prices.
Don’t Question My Creativity – thinking that creativity is all that counts in generating prospects, forgetting what is needed is a disciplined creativity (to revise an old maxim, “the unexamined prospect is not worth drilling””
If You’ve Got the Money, Honey, I’ve Got a Prospect –exploration done because of the availability of money, and not because of sound geoscientific basis for a prospect.
Editor's Note: About the above ideas, Mr. Cowdery wants to make it clear these are not his "original thoughts but acquired from some source long forgotten."
Sherwood Field – Renville, North Dakota.
This field which is on the US-Canadian border was discovered by drilling up dip from a Gulf Oil test that had been over perforated and produced water. From the Mission Canyon (Mississippian). The production is excellent with most wells making over one million BO.
I thought I completely understood the play, but in reality it was an biostrome deposited on a bottom high with two stages of salt collapse. There was an argillaceous channel up dip that I thought served as the trapping mechanism. What I didn’t understand was that there were two more fields on the other side of the trapping mechanism, including one extending into Canada, which our company essentially missed because I thought I knew what was going on. In addition we had a lease downdip on the plunging nose. The company had moved in a rig to drill and I had it moved off as I thought the test would be structurally too low to produce. What I didn’t realize was that there was a hydrodynamic tilt of the 29 gravity oil and after we lost the lease a company moved in and drilled two excellent wells.
Lane County, Kansas –
We had three seismic anomalies as a result of conventional seismic. We drilled two that I considered the best resulting in two dry holes.
Obviously the third would not produce. Wrong!! Neil Sikes later drilled three excellent wells on that third anomaly
Kimball County, Nebraska –
There was a J Sand (Cretaceous) discovery We drilled a offset dry and there was another offset drilled, so the discovery had a dry offset to the east and a dry offset to the west, obviously it was another of those one well fields, Wrong:!! A producer was drilled to the north and a continuos string of producers were drilled and the field blossomed until it was ten or twelve locations wide.
Miller Creek, Crook County, Wyoming – This field was found by drilling up dip from a Cretaceous Sand that was wet. It turned out to be an excellent field. Our company drilled a dry hole (water-wet) test on a forty acre tract in the center of the field. I said this can’t be. So we moved into a ten-acre spot on the forty and drilled another dry hole. It turns out that there was a restricted flow due to a thinning of the sand which created a higher pressure to force entry fof the oil interface into smaller pores – this in turn creates a higher water saturation in the area of restriction.
"These are just a few examples of being “too damn smart” in my career. There were many more. It was usually a case of my thinking I understood the geology etc. when I really didn’t. It cost my company money."
As time has passed we have moved into an age of improved technology. Everyone should possess “computer skills”, but no matter how advanced we may be, we need to be able to think, and analyze the information provided by this “new technology”.
For more information on a similiar topic please see this article in the February 2006 Explorer. Click here