The Role of Geomechanics in the Oil and Gas Industry

In the subsurface (crust) formation stresses and strength are in an apparent state of equilibrium with the exception of seismically active areas. Exploration and production activities such as drilling, fracturing, depletion hot or cold injection could potentially alter this equilibrium. The role of geomechanics is to predict when and how this equilibrium will be altered, what are the potential risks and/or opportunities associated with this alteration, evaluate these and their potential impacts on:   
  1. Safety & environment
  2. Economics: Appraisal and development activities, surface and urban planning
The role of Geomechanics is becoming increasingly significant in the oil/gas exploration and production industry given that:
  • The industry is exploring deeper
  • Reservoir are more geologically challenging
  • The increasing pressure from regulators, NGOs and others to stop exploring in some specific areas and stop some development activities such as oil sands, hydraulic fracturing, etc. due to the perceived negative impacts on the environment
All of the above calls for a well thought through and integrated planning of well and reservoir operations and developments. Geomechanical considerations should be part of every opportunity framing session to avoid addressing issues in firefighting mode. Considering geomechanics early in the opportunity framing makes it possible to plan for data gathering, monitoring and mitigation options as well as being prepared to answer auditors and regulators questions regarding potential environmental hazards. Practical GeoMechanics is positioned to support such work by offering geomechanics related services in the following areas:  
  1. Consulting in the following areas amongst others:
    • In situ stress characterization and rock mechanical profiling
    • Borehole Stability
    • Sand Production Prediction
    • Hydraulic Fracturing (conventional and unconventional)
    • Safe operating pressure and temperature envelopes for primary, secondary or tertiary fields developments to avoid:
      • Subsidence or surface uplift
      • Fault reactivation
      • Tremors
      • Well integrity issues
  3. Definition of data gathering, work streams, appropriate use of technologies and monitoring options to address issues at hand
  5. Design, quality control, and analysis of laboratory test on core samples
  7. Independent advisory, quality assurance and reviews of studies and their outcome
  9. Training of staff in both theoretical and operational geomechanics

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