Managing Uncertainty: Core Disciplines of a Reservoir Engineer

An oil and gas reservoir is an underground lake of hydrocarbons contained within layers of porous rock trapped beneath layers of nonporous rock. The entire petroleum industry is built around the ability to manage uncertainty; to locate oil and gas reservoirs and to extract the hydrocarbons in a way that is safe, efficient, and economical.

Reservoir Engineers are the experts that develop visualization techniques and utilize advanced simulation tools in order to design reservoir workflows. The ability to accurately map and properly characterize an oil and gas reservoir is crucial to successful field development.

Reservoir Engineers possess an expertise in several core disciplines, including geology, geomodeling, geophysics, petrophysics, and engineering, and utilize a vast array of tools to gain a clear understanding and manage uncertainty.

Geology - Reservoir Engineers, through the study of rocks (petrology), their layers (stratigraphy), and their positions and deformations (structural geology), begin to understand the underground landscape.

Geomodeling - Reservoir Engineers create computerized representations of geologic formations which aid in predicting the behaviors of these formations in certain situations and under certain circumstances. This can help a reservoir engineer in selecting a development plan that is safe, efficient, and economic.

Geophysics - Reservoir Engineers often apply advanced physics, mathematics, and chemistry to understand the earth through gravity, magnetic, electrical, and seismic methods. Reservoir engineers use instruments such as gravimeters, gravitational wave sensors, and magnetometers to measure fluctuations in the gravitational and magnetic fields. The data are used to conduct geophysical surveys and analyze petroleum reservoirs.

Petrophysics - Reservoir engineers are adept at understanding the physical and chemical properties of rocks, particularly, how rocks interact with fluids. Reservoir engineers obtain samples and seismic measurements in order to understand density, lithology, permeability, porosity, and saturation to provide a complete understanding of the reservoir.

Engineering - Reservoir engineers take into consideration all these geological factors for the purpose of planning, analyzing, and designing cost effective and efficient approaches to oil recovery.

A Reservoir Engineer is a fundamental contributor to upstream oil and gas. Utilizing a vast knowledge of a wide range of disciplines along with an array of tools, Reservoir Engineers manage the uncertainty that underlies the most fundamental facets of oil and gas. Managing that uncertainty is a vital component in making sound decisions about the management of oil and gas reservoirs and maximizing value.

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