Craighead: Reframing Geoscience is Key to Transforming Our Energy Future

Speaking to an audience of worldwide upstream oil and gas industry leaders at the 18th Middle East Oil Show (MEOS) in Bahrain on March 10, Baker Hughes President and CEO Martin Craighead stressed the importance of understanding the earth’s subsurface to the future of energy. Reframing geoscience, Craighead explained, will play a major role in ensuring that the oil and gas industry delivers affordable energy safely, responsibly, and in a manner that is both economically and environmentally sustainable.

“Our industry is no longer solely about the extraction and distribution of hydrocarbons,” Craighead said. “Rather, any discussion about energy is essentially a discussion about the much larger picture of survival, opportunity, and community.”

Focusing on global opportunities in shale development, Craighead cited the benefits of an approach based on geologic measurement and scientific models versus one that relies heavily on statistical data and a factory drilling mindset. By applying sophisticated subsurface models and conducting detailed engineering on a well-by-well basis, the industry can be better prepared to meet the expectations of all stakeholders while dramatically lessening its footprint on the surface. Places like China, Saudi Arabia, and South America, he said, will not drill hundreds of wells in a single play and use the law of averages to predict results.

“Instead, prediction techniques will be integrated with geoscience to identify commercial prospects earlier; de-risk fields faster and more effectively; and drill, complete, and produce in such a way that every well contributes to ultimate hydrocarbon recovery,” he said.

Additionally, innovations that allow measurement while fracturing, coupled with technologies that predict how fractures will perform, will have huge implications for the use and reuse of water.  

“It’s important that we get this right,” Craighead stressed, “because society needs to know that energy will be there, that it will be affordable and accessible, and that both commerce and community will benefit.”