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Field Development Plan Guideline for Onshore Australian Oilfields

Delaney, Thomas

Engineering Honours Degree 2008

University of Adelaide


Field Development Planning has been prevalent in the Petroleum Industry since the first development projects. Uncertainty in crude prices, advancements in technology and the decreased quality of newly discovered reservoirs; means that field development plans now involve much greater detail. Given the large initial investments for the projects, it is also imperative to explore all field development options in detail and document the evaluation to ensure optimal development. This project investigates the stages of a field development along with the requirements and general best practices presented in literature regarding Field Development Planning. The key objective was to develop a Field Development Plan guideline for Onshore, Australian assets to be used as a tool for inexperienced professionals throughout the development process.

The key stages of an oilfield development are outlined in the background research. The involvement of the different disciplines: Geoscientists, Engineers and Operators; is outlined along with the key technical tasks performed by all disciplines from field exploration/discovery through to the appraisal, production, decline and final abondonment. A literature review was performed on the concept of Field Development Planning where a systematic approach for a guideline was seen as optimal to meet the objectives. The use of integrated multi-disciplinary teams is a commonly presented requirement for a successful development project.

The information gathered from the literature review was used to form the foundations for the proposed field development plan guideline. The following key project stages are outlined in the guideline: Acquisition, Appraisal, Development Planning, Field Development, Initial Production, Monitor Field Performance, Update Development Plan, Field Improvements (EOR, infill drilling), Decline and Abandonment. The field development planning stage was separated into the subheadings of: Development Basis; Appraisal and Exploitation; Operations and Maintenance; Facilities and Infrastructure Engineering; and, Economics. The key outcomes to be perfomed under each of the subheadings were outlined along with some methodologies. The main focus was placed on Reservoir and Petroleum Engineering concepts; with background information to assist: estimate reserves; production profiles and drainage patterns; artificial lift selection; and, select Enhanced Oil Recovery methods. The guideline is of an introductory level for engineering graduates entering the oil industry, the supplementary materials in the background research elaborate further upon some of the points presented in the guideline.

The report gives a systematic approach to building a field development plan. Given the time and length constraints of the project, some aspects could be improved in future work. The importance of dealing with and recognising uncertainty was highlighted, further methodologies on decision making under uncertainty would be a useful inclusion to the guideline. Processes to successfully manage and create a successful integrated team environment could be presented. The report chiefly focuses on aspects of Petroleum Engineering. The guideline could also elaborate further on aspects of: facilites and infrastructure; economic analysis; quality control; exploration and operations.

Australian School of Petroleum



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