TOGY talks to
Evaluation for resource optimisationJune 30, 2017
TOGY speaks to David Borde, managing director of PetroCom Technologies, about the “perceived” gas shortage in the country. PetroCom Technologies is a technological services provider for the oil and gas industry in Trinidad and Tobago.
PetroCom Technologies provides geotechnical and technological services, which include upstream geological and geophysical consultancy as well as downstream production optimisation services. Borde discusses the importance of independent geotechnical data analysis and modern data management. While curtailments remain an ongoing issue in the Caribbean nation, relief is on the horizon with a bevy of new developments such as the recently sanctioned Angelin project with BPTT and the new agreements with Venezuela.
• ON UNDERSTANDING GEOLOGY IN TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO: We feel that if we as a country did an ongoing study of what our gas reserves and resources are, then we would be much better positioned with ongoing negotiations with the IOCs. Since our reservoirs are very complex, we need to truly understand that they are mostly non-homogeneous reservoirs and highly faulted with each reservoir virtually having its own cost structure.
• ON DATA AND COMPETITION: The old way we used to do things is not good enough. It is not good to just show up with some seismic data at an international conference and say that we have 3D data shot over the acreage and tell them to come and invest their millions. That was the approach 20 years ago. Now we need to have a much better idea of our potential to be globally competitive.
Borde also discussed proactive reserves and resources evaluations in Trinidad and Tobago as a means of combating declining production rates. Most TOGY interviews are published exclusively on our business intelligence platform TOGYiN, but you can find the full interview with David Borde below.
Could you give an update on your operational activities for the past year?
Since 2016, we have adjusted our activities in line with the situation in the country. For years, we had been talking about how we could monitor our reserves and resources better, be it gas or oil, since it drives so much of the economy. Our company evolved with the changing economic and market situations in Trinidad & Tobago and the region.
We began talking to all the senior people in the government, along with NGC [National Gas Company], Petrotrin [officials] and the [private] oil and gas players – with a strong focus on gas – as to what we can do to help the situation. Our partner, Deloitte, was also very involved with these discussions.
For the past year, we have positioned ourselves to be even more of an advisory service to help with this problem of gas shortages or rather “perceived” gas shortages in terms of production and the disconnect that we have now between upstream and downstream sectors.
Here is a Gulf of Paria oil related example. In 2014, Petrotrin completed a very intensive seismic survey offshore. This survey covered the Soldado and North Marine acreage with a focus on development and exploration objectives. The State Company wants to be successful and is in a time bind and we have offered our services to assist them with an independent evaluation of their seismic and well information.
Can you clarify what you mean by “perceived” gas shortages?
We feel that if we as a country did an ongoing study of what our gas reserves and resources are, then we would be much better positioned with ongoing negotiations with the IOCs. Since our reservoirs are very complex, we need to truly understand that they are mostly non-homogeneous reservoirs and highly faulted with each reservoir virtually having its own cost structure.
Each of the reservoirs could have different pressures, geological porosity and permeability parameters. There are all kinds of differences that can take place. Some might have a different type of gas or a different type of oil-gas-water ratio. The variability is extensive.
How can we say that we have a shortage of gas? We do have gas; however the reservoir parameters, fiscal incentives, contracts and above / below ground risk all come into play. It is just the economics and the contracts that are keeping the production short. In terms of exploration, there are still many innovative ideas to be tested by drilling along with intense geo-technical studies to better determine our petroleum systems.
What would the solution be to this ongoing reservoir issue?
We need to have independent evaluations of all of the data that exists in Trinidad. It is not as if we do not have the data, but it has to be done on an ongoing basis. It cannot be a report or a single audit.
Who would do this independent evaluation?
Trinidad and Tobago should have an entity, similar to the SEC [Securities and Exchange Commission] in the USA, that the industry can help build and support.
There are organisations in different countries that have implemented these programmes successfully. This is not a new idea at all. This is done in Australia, Canada, Colombia and several other countries.
Who could spark talks in that direction?
What we do every day is talk to key stakeholders in the government and the sector to build this awareness of how we can improve the industry in a significant manner. The assumptions made in the past and the belief that someone will solve the problems must change. Once all key stakeholders agree on the need for change and the importance of innovation we would be better positioned to move forward.
What operations are you undertaking right now?
On the local front, we are working very closely with Petrotrin and NGC on matters pertaining to increasing production and analysis of reserves and resources.
What operational updates can you tell us about ongoing ambitions in Africa?
PetroCom and its alliance partners are communicating at the highest levels with Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique, Ghana, Namibia and South Africa. We have helped Equatorial Guinea in a clear way, and continue to do so. They need an independent analysis of their data and also opinions as to what should be done with their exploration and development programme, depending on the size of the fields and reservoir variations.
In the past, they would get all of that information from the operator but they are realising that as a country, an independent analysis is also helpful and strategic. They also need to understand what is good for them or not good for them, as the case may be, with some of these decisions. Do you need to use your gas for LNG plants or petrochemical plants or leave it capped for 50 years from now? It is all based on the country’s philosophy and priorities.
What are your thoughts on the upcoming licensing round in Trinidad?
We have offered the Ministry our assistance to help them prepare for the bid rounds by optimising their seismic, well logs and related geological data. Because of the Seisnetics software we use, the technical people at the Ministry of Energy understand that we can get them there a lot faster.
The old way we used to do things is not good enough. It is not good to just show up with some seismic data at an international conference and say that we have 3D data shot over the acreage and tell them to come and invest their millions. That was the approach 20 years ago. Now we need to have a much better idea of our potential to be globally competitive. It is all about reducing risk and uncertainty. The more we share with operators the greater chance of them investing.
How has PetroCom adjusted to the new reality?
Our adjustment is that we have to use the experience we gained in Trinidad to look at new international projects and activities where we can add value immediately and help export our services as professionals.
We have a lot of experience that we should export because [Trinidad and Tobago] is a small market.
What is your assessment of the current hydrocarbons landscape in Trinidad?
I see PetroCom as evolving and that evolution will be more on the international front than the local front because of the present oil and gas climate.
Think about what has been happening in the past couple of years. The USA has become an oil and gas exporter. There are new massive amounts of oil coming from Canada and Alaska to help build the chemical industry in the Gulf of Mexico and the Louisiana-Texas area in particular. Everything has changed and of course there is a new president, Donald Trump, too, who is very aggressive with domestic-type activities in the USA. We must all evolve with changing times and conditions.
What are your expectations for the future of the company?
We will focus on dynamic markets where people embrace technology, new thinking and are not resistant to change. The global model has changed a bit because of data access and its absolute importance. Whether it is an exploration or development project, the more data you have, the better services you can provide and as said before minimise uncertainty and risk.
We would like to find markets where we can get access to data more readily.
Additionally, we see PetroCom as playing a critical role in Trinidad and Tobago as we redevelop our gas resources and overall petroleum potential.
For more information on PetroCom Technologies in Trinidad and Tobago, including strategies employed by the company to optimise geological data, see our business intelligence platform, TOGYiN.
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