The Path Of A Well DoctorBy Pedro Alcalá | Tue, 09/22/2020 - 09:45
Q: What influence has your previous work for IMP and Schlumberger had on your current responsibilities at Repstim?
A: After graduating as a chemical engineer from the Technological Institute of Villahermosa, I began working for IMP in the Bellota Chinchorro and Bellota Jujo assets. Seven years later, I started working for Schlumberger, specializing in well stimulation for three years. My exit from Schlumberger coincided with the oil price downturn of 2015 and I became a professor at Mexico Valley University (UVM) and Olmec University. It was during my tenure that I realized that universities in Mexico lacked professors with enough field experience under their belt.
The industry is very competitive and many graduates, after discovering that they will not receive the kind of salary they expected, return to their universities as professors without having any real field experience. As a result, their classes become a summary of textbook material that only provides ideal scenarios as examples. Many professors do not have real-life experiences to share with their students regarding adverse or less-than-ideal situations that must be corrected in real time. This is not the case with all professors, of course; at Olmec University I worked with valuable engineers who had a great deal of field experience. At these universities, I also noticed a lack of field trips with students. These trips are essential for them because they can see the real implications of a sample analysis.
Last year, while I was still teaching, I got a call from Repstim offering me a position as their well stimulation manager. All of my previous experiences have been of use to me during my time at Repstim, particularly when it comes to supporting recently graduated engineers. At this moment, the company has a number of standing agreements with different universities and with SEDENER, and we have also participated in the “Jóvenes construyendo el futuro” (Youth Building the Future) program.
Q: Among the situations that you have encountered so far as Repstim’s well stimulation manager, which would you define as less-than-ideal?
A: For the most part, one is trained to deal with each situation in terms of general chemical processes. The more familiar you become with a specific situation, the more you learn to navigate and face more complex situations. Through the learning and repetition of processes, it becomes possible to identify flaws that cause unexpected results. To a certain degree, you become self-taught by combining university teachings with individual lessons learned. For example, a geological formation can present a simultaneous combination of five issues. In a university setting, students only study individual cases for each issue.
When I began working at Repstim, it was a smaller company and although it did include field engineers among its ranks, there was nobody on the team qualified to teach a stimulation treatment correctly. Due to the company’s exponential growth, it was necessary to include other departments to provide better customer service. This led to the creation of my position within the company. The company needed the support and the confidence necessary to be able to tell both engineers and clients that we were capable of executing our own well analysis and to deliver a personalized evaluation that they could act on afterward.
Using this evaluation as a basis, the main decision to be made is whether or not a specific well is suited for stimulation or not. Not all wells are suitable for stimulation and not all wells will present an increase in their production levels after being stimulated. Although Repstim had already executed well clean-ups and some stimulations before I arrived, they were always done according to a program provided by the client. Repstim’s operational engineers are very capable and have no issues when it comes to executing these programs. They are able to make effective operational decisions at the well when difficulties such as pressure increases or leaks appear unexpectedly. Repstim can now produce its own pumping chart, which is backed up by a previous analysis of well productivity and by specialized software.
Q: How do you deal with client doubts regarding your evaluations?
A: Usually, the evaluation process begins with a request for all of the client’s available information regarding a given well. This is important because the reliability of our analysis is now tied to the reliability of the information provided by the client. This is not just about technical and geophysical data but also about production data that can tell us more about the precise point at which the well’s productivity began to decline. This allows us to have a more detailed idea of what the factor or factors involved in that decline are or could be. Later, one must execute what is known as a nodal analysis of the entire production system through a specialized software. This also helps us to see what a well’s total production capacity is, and will allow us to determine how much production can be increased through stimulation. If the difference between what a well produces and what it could produce if stimulated is not large enough to justify the expense that stimulation would represent, the client should be informed so that there is no doubt. Repstim not only provides a service, it also gives its clients the confidence necessary to protect their investments by providing adequate and custom-made solutions that go beyond a simple sale. A lot of the time, the problem is not with the well but with the reservoir. If that is the case, a production increase can only be achieved through options that are unrelated to an individual well. Instead, you need to address the entire reservoir in an integrated fashion.
Repstim is a Mexican upstream service provider focused on well interventions, stimulations, chemical cleaning and well cementing services. These include laboratory services for the analysis and breakdown of well samples.