82- www. world- petroleum. org 6.1- Understanding oil and gas Exploration and production: explained Outside the military, oil is the most technology- dependent industry there is Imagine planning the evacuation of a city - on a moonless night, from a helicopter. You have a basic idea of the road layout, an understanding of how towns are generally planned and the odd scrap of local informa-tion. But just a few lampposts are switched on and you are working in darkness. Producing oil or gas from a reservoir is very similar: a well is like a lamppost - il-luminating its immediate surroundings, but nothing more. Seismic information provides a sketchy street plan and maybe some snapshot indications of how conditions are changing with time. Knowledge of geology and science give enough rules of thumb to make reasonable assumptions about what might be down there. Working in the dark But reservoir engineers - whose job it is to come up with a plan to squeeze as much as possible out of every cubic metre of rock - are basically working in the dark. They must make multi- million- dollar decisions on the basis of incredibly small amounts of hard information. It's an empirical process: once a well is drilled, they must listen to how the res-ervoir responds and adapt to events as quickly and creatively as possible. You make a theory, act on it and test it. Then you get the results, interpret them and in-tervene to optimise your plan. But there is a degree of risk and uncertainty that you have to live with all the time. Risk is inherent in all stages of the oil and gas E& P process. Operations often take place in remote locations and physi-cally harsh environments, with little or no infrastructure. After discovery, oil must be brought to the surface, transported, refined and delivered to the end user - safely, prof-itably and without spillages. And the financial stakes are very high: the bill for an offshore wildcat well - where the well planners have little knowledge of the subsurface geology - can easily run to $ 100 million. In 2007, Brazilian oil company Petrobras drilled one off the Brazilian coast that cost $ 240 million. So how do you go from surveying dunes in a desert or waves on the ocean to the point of being prepared to spend $ 240 mil-lion finding out what lies beneath it? The short answer is: science and technology. Producing oil or gas from a reservoir is like working in darkness
83- www. energy- future. com Profile - Jillian DuQuesnay Name: Jillian DuQuesnay Company: J. Ray McDermott Present job: Naval architect Age: 26 Nationality: American Degree: Ocean engineering, Texas A& M University J. Ray McDermott is a leading worldwide engineering and construction company whose services include the design, procurement, fabrication, transportation, installation, hook-up and commissioning of offshore fixed plat-forms, floating facilities, pipelines, and subsea infrastructure, umbilicals, risers, and flowlines. I joined J. Ray's engineering group straight out of college in 2005 and immediately found myself involved in offshore project work - helping install a series of platforms for the Mexican national oil company, Pemex. I am based in Houston, but during my first year of employment I worked in Mexico for one week of every month. That was a really exciting introduction to the energy business and gave me hands- on experience that has proved invaluable ever since. Field experience is an important part of working for J. Ray. It makes you a much bet-ter engineer, because it provides you with insights into the practical side of the job. Without a proper understanding of the con-structability and physical challenges involved in construction, transportation and installa-tion, you're going to struggle to do the de-sign- side of the job properly. I came into the Pemex project about half way through, but still had the opportunity to see the loadout or installation of 10 different structures that J. Ray was contracted to install. My next big assignment was for a produc-tion platform offshore Trinidad and Tobago in 530 feet of water off the northwest coast of Trinidad. It's the largest facility ever built or installed in the country's waters. I was in-volved in each phase of the project, from preliminary design work to installation. We won an internal company excel-lence award for this project, which was very satisfying. The job involved a great deal of creative thinking. For example, the platform's sub-structure is fixed to the seabed using a se-ries of giant piles that are driven into the legs and then about 370 feet into the subsur-face. These protect the installation from huge waves and adverse weather conditions. I was tasked with figuring out a way of transporting those enormous pieces of equipment to the site and designing a sys-tem for getting people into the right positions to un- tether them and oversee the installation process. It might not seem like an obvious challenge, but it's essential to get that kind of thing right without compromising safety. My career could go in various directions. J. Ray's an international company with offices all over the world, so I could work abroad. I might do another course of study, although one of the great advantages of working in this business is that you can get to a good level of seniority and responsibility without neces-sarily taking a Master's degree or a PhD. The company does actively support employees who take continued education. Eventually, I could see myself becom-ing a supervisor within my department, be-fore moving on to management. But at the moment I'm focused on technical- analysis work, and I'm really enjoying it. I love my job; I work hard, but I go home each day not ever thinking I should do some-thing else. It's challenging and every day is different. Not many people keep learning at the same rate after leaving college. ??