Technology has been a critical factor in every facet of our business and will be an increasingly important factor in how our industry evolves. Technology has enabled the industry to significantly reduce costs and develop oil and gas fields, which, at the time, seemed to possess insurmountable technical challenges. More recently, technology advancements with the Internet, alternative fuels, and renewable resources threaten to dramatically change our business in the future.
Exponential advances in information, Internet, and communications technologies offer our industry unlimited opportunities. Contrary to the popular perception of the oil and gas industry being old economy and low-tech, we are posed to take full advantage of these advancements. The reality is that the oil and gas industry has always leveraged information technology extensively. In fact, geoscientists and petroleum engineers represent one of the most information technology-intense communities.
Our challenge as an industry will be to rapidly adapt and apply technology advances to our business ventures around the world. Given its reserve potential and unique technical challenges, the Greater Caspian region provides an excellent opportunity to demonstrate this capability. However, we must recognize that our legacy will be created not only by the application of technology, but also by our ability to transfer technology to the Caspian region. To provide an example of technology application and transfer in the Caspian region, a few technical challenges being addressed by Tengiz Chevroil (TCO) to develop the Tengiz field will be reviewed. Specifically, the development and application of technology to reservoir characterization and sour-gas injection are discussed. Tengiz produces high-gravity, H2S-rich oil from a reservoir containing abundant solid bitumen. Geochemical and petrographic evidence suggests that there were perhaps two stages of petroleum migration into the Tengiz reservoir, both generated off structure from a marine source rock. The initial charge gave rise to solid bitumen, and the second was most likely from the same source at higher maturity, accompanied by a significant influx of H2S arising from thermochemical sulfate reduction deep in the basin, which filled Tengiz with its present-day oil.
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Throughout time, the greater Caspian area has maintained its position as one of the major petroleum provinces in the world. Its early history as a prolific producer of oil is well known. Caspian region exploration dates to the seventh century B.C., during the time of the Median Kingdom in today's southern Azerbaijan. Oil played an important role in the everyday lives of these ancient tribes of the region, and it is still a very important commodity today. The past two decades have seen many important advances in our knowledge of the geological evolution of hydrocarbon-bearing sedimentary basins. The success of modern exploration is, to a large extent, based on new advances in both deep and 3-D seismic imaging, as well as improved pressure-prediction and pre-drill oil and gas quality predictive methodologies, to mention just a few. Nevertheless, large areas of the greater Caspian region have remained unexplored due to a variety of factors such as deep-water conditions and zones with high pore-pressures in the South Caspian Sea and The Black Sea, and vast shallow-water regions with harsh winter ice conditions in the North Caspian Sea. This publication contains 12 extended abstracts and 6 full-length papers that discuss technology development, challenges in estimating proven and potential reserves, outcrop-based studies of potential reservoirs, regional tectonics and geodynamic evolution, and source rock and stratigraphic analyses of the greater Caspian area.