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- Innovation in the Oil Field -- YOU can do it! -
By Phiroze Patel, Aera Energy
Huge capital costs, operating costs and environmental exposure make the upstream oil and gas business a naturally conservative system. Innovation is recognized as necessary but how does one fit these creative and "random" activities into the overarching conservative backdrop? Recognizing this incongruity is the first step and Systems Thinking is useful to provide the context for innovation in an upstream oil and gas company. Construction of an innovation process, database and measures is essential, not only to manage such activities but also to communicate progress to senior management and validate innovative efforts. A simple process and its execution will be discussed using an example project. A method to involve producing asset staff will be described. Examples that illustrate proper and improper fit of innovation projects in one medium-size oil company's portfolio are quite educational and lessons learned can be translated to foster innovation in your company, be it small or large.
Phiroze Patel is Innovation Director for Aera Energy LLC, a stand-alone company jointly owned by affiliates of Shell and ExxonMobil. He holds Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Aeronautics and Astronautics and a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering. Phiroze started his 28-year upstream oil production career in Shell's research laboratory and has held many engineering and management positions in water, CO2 and steam flood operations. For the last six years he has participated in Aera's Innovation Team, including the design and implementation of Aera's Innovation Process. Phiroze has served on technical committees of SPE conferences and is a technical editor of a SPE journal.
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