Apache Technology Forumunites employees from around the world

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Apache Technology Forum**unites employees from around the world

Editorials
January 2012

Drillers, explorers, engineers from all 10 regions share technology, lessons learned.

Apache’s global operations present different technical challenges – onshore and offshore (shelf and deepwater), conventional and unconventional, oil and gas. Increasingly, engineers and geoscientists are finding they may be separated by geography but linked by their experiences.

For three days in October, more than 200 drillers, explorers and reservoir and production engineers from 10 regions across five continents met in Dallas to share their experiences at the second Apache Technology Forum (ATF).

“Our strategy is to be a fast applier of appropriate technology,” said Mike Bahorich, executive vice president and chief technology officer. “The ATF fits into this strategy by providing a venue for sharing technology.”

“We believe the key to a successful forum requires getting two things right – selecting content relevant to the regions’ needs and ensuring people have many opportunities to interact and exchange what they have learned,” said Tom Hellman, chairman of the forum and director of worldwide completions in the Exploration and Technology Production (EPT) group.

“Behind the scenes, it’s the steering committee working together that made this happen in 2011 – Paul  Griffith, who chaired the reservoir engineering track; George King, who led the production-completions track; Dave Nollsch and Grant Byerley, who led the geology and geophysics track; and Randy Wagner, who chaired the drilling track. Of course, you have to get the logistics right, and once again, Heather Cates – an executive assistant in EPT – did a superb job.”

About 100 presentations and 20 posters addressed issues ranging from Apache’s existing operations in mature fields to exploration activities in the company’s new ventures in Alaska’s Cook Inlet and offshore Kenya.

Half-day sessions focused on lessons gleaned from horizontal drilling in Canada, Argentina, the Permian Basin and the Central Region’s Anadarko Basin and subsea technology being put to work in the Gulf of Mexico, Australia and the North Sea.

Mike Yates, senior staff geophysicist in the EPT group, and Steve Adiletta, senior geosciences adviser in the New Ventures group, described Apache’s use of wireless nodes to acquire 3-D seismic in Argentina and Alaska. The technology, which will be used in the North Sea in an upcoming seismic project, offers higher-quality data at lower cost.

Kyle Stewart, senior geophysical adviser in the Gulf of Mexico Shelf Region, explained how reverse time migration (RTM) techniques help identify oil and gas deposits around salt domes. RTM has been used in deepwater exploration; Stewart is applying the technique on Apache’s large base of Shelf acreage.

Presentations by Ryan Birkenfeld, geology and geosciences manager in the Canada Region’s Horn River Basin, and Francisco Caycedo, senior staff petrophysicist in the Canada Region, described how the region has improved the performance and productivity of shale wells through a closer examination of the geology of the prolific formation. Bahorich said their work will be a model for Apache’s exploration in unconventional plays around the world.

The emphasis is on real examples – not vendors’ slick sales pitches.

The unfiltered truth was apparent in a special closed-door session that provided a forum for Apache’s drilling engineers to exchange stories about “train wrecks” – wells that didn’t go well.

“We wanted to begin a discussion between the drilling engineers in Apache’s dispersed operating units about what they have learned from operations that did not go as planned,” Wagner said. “Apache drilling operations experience about the industry-average of 20 percent non-productive time – a significant amount of money each year. We should not have to pay to repeat mistakes that have already occurred in other Apache operations. One participant said the session was ‘filled with déjà vu’ because we heard similar stories. That means we’re not learning from each other yet.”

Hellman said the steering committee is already discussing several new ideas to improve the forum in 2012. 

“This year, we asked Jim Clark from the Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Region and Thaimar Ramirez from EPT to help organize new multidiscipline programs on subsea technology and horizontal well technology. Both were very well received,” he said. “Next year, we are hoping to expand the geology and geophysics programs and the poster session, include more time for ‘share your train wrecks,’ and try out a new workshop format that promotes more interaction. We are committed to improving the forum each year because we owe it to the regions to make the very best use of their time.”

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