Bob Shoup and Dan Tearpock

SCA receives many queries about the “The Ten Habits of Highly Successful Oil Finders“. Since applying the best practices that are the foundation of the 10 Habits will help you, or your company, reduce the number of dry holes you drill, SCA has written a column elaborating each of the Habits. Here is the column for Habit 9:

Successful oil finders document their work

Imagine yourself sitting at your workstation interpreting away when someone comes into your office and says, “Hi, I am from the SEC and I am here to audit you”. Here is some advice. Stifle your instinct to panic, introduce yourself and invite him or her to take a seat. Once the formalities are over, provide the auditor with all of the documentation you have for the asset they are auditing. We live in an audit friendly world today (yes, I know that is an oxymoron, there is no such thing as a friendly audit), so the chances of you being the subject of an audit have never been higher.  Wouldn’t it be easier to hand your thoroughly documented work to the auditor than to spend hours or maybe days re-creating your work to justify your reserve estimates?

Don’t think you will ever be audited?  Then imagine this scenario. You are presenting a prospect to your company’s senior vice president. The key reservoir for the prospect has been faulted out of the well closest to the prospect. Your correlation of that well to an unfaulted well indicates that the fault has 200 feet of missing section. Yet on the map you have shown only 140 of vertical separation. The vice president asks you why you have 200 feet of missing section in the well, and only 140 feet of vertical separation on the map, and you cannot explain it to him. As you slink back to your office, you remember that the 200 feet of missing section was determined in a deviated well, and the vertical separation represents the true vertical thickness (TVT) of that missing section. Too late!  You have already lost credibility with the vice president and with your boss as well.  If only you had fully documented that fault information on your map or your wells.

Let’s fast forward a few years. You have rebuilt your credibility and are presenting a regional map of a play that has several prospects in it. The play area includes a dry hole drilled by your company many years ago. The senior vice president asks why the company drilled that well since the new regional maps indicate that there is no structural trap at that location. Although that was one of the first projects you worked, that was years ago, and you can’t remember any of the details. As you once again slink back to your office you remember that the prospect was drilled before the company acquired 3D seismic over the region, belatedly verifying the lack of a trap at that old location. Too late, your credibility has taken another hit with the vice president.

All of these scenarios have happened. And all of them could have had significantly different results had the interpreters taken a few minutes and documented their work. Admittedly, documentation is one of my least favorite tasks. I would much rather correlate logs or seismic, or make maps than fill out spreadsheets. But, the time it takes to properly document your project can pay big dividends; you can more efficiently execute your project and evaluate your prospects and developments with proper documentation. You can also explain things to your senior vice president and keep your credibility.


Habit 10: Exploring the 10 Habits