Oil field redevelopments or rehabilitation projects have become commonplace within the past decade. There are a number of reasons for this, not least that large old fields often contain significant quantities of remaining petroleum. Other major factors are that countries rich in petroleum but hitherto inaccessible to western oil companies have opened up their fields and as the world’s basins become thoroughly explored, field redevelopments look more attractive as the prospects for frontier exploration diminish.
Although now commonplace, field rehabilitations differ widely from redeveloping one’s own field in a familiar basin to entering a new country to work on an aging giant accumulation. The chance of success also varies widely, with modest redevelopments of one’s own fields commonly achieving success but bold forays into new countries and old fields often heralding commercial failure.
There are a number of actions that can be taken to improve the chance of success for any rehabilitation project. The selection of people forming the teams involved in evaluation and implementation requires considerable attention. If overseas, build on the know-how and experience of national staff. Every effort must be made to understand how the field performed and was worked in the past. The old well and production data need to be gathered, sorted, interpreted and made accessible to all in the project. The initial redevelopment targets must be modest, testing of hypotheses rigorous and acquisition of monitoring data on such pilot schemes extensive. ‘New technology’ may help but it is unlikely to be a panacea. Major financial outlay on, for example, new facilities should not be made until an understanding is achieved of how new wells and completions behave during production. Finally, success should be celebrated when success happens rather than celebrating proffered success before the project begins.