Are we really in an industry that is so mature that it is devoid of new thoughts and incapable of generating new concepts to meet the challenges that we face?
It has been said that there is nothing new under the sun, which, if true, would imply that, in a mature industry such as ours, there is little opportunity for innovation or original thought. Another oft-quoted idiom is “to think outside the box,” which raises the questions for me of “What box?” and “Who keeps making these boxes?” Are we really in an industry that is so mature that it is devoid of new thoughts and incapable of generating new concepts to meet the challenges that we face?
I would contend not. The coiled-tubing industry has always been defined by energetic and innovative people meeting the new challenges they encounter. Today is no exception. Wells in which coiled tubing is used have become deeper, have longer horizontal sections, have higher pressures, and are less accessible because of platform and crane limitations. The recent SPE/ICoTA Coiled Tubing and Well Intervention Conference and Exhibition held in The Woodlands, Texas, showcased varied solutions, both in the exhibition hall and in the technical sessions. Innovative downhole tools; newer, stronger materials; new fluid additives; improved equipment; software improvements; and a deeper understanding of fundamental mechanics were among the many progressive steps being shared with attendees. Older techniques that had been rethought and applied to today’s issues were also presented.
Another aspect of the conference that has been gratifying to see over the past few years has been the larger proportion of new and younger attendees. This new cohort brings with it its more-current view of the world. The challenge for the older generation is to be open to the different visions of the newer generation. Maybe certain solutions have been tried in the past and found wanting. However, the use of more-current technologies, such as high-power digital data communication and processing power, brings new possibilities.
The can-do attitude and spirit of innovation in the coiled-tubing segment of the oil and gas industry are still vibrant. It is all too easy to be cynical and to pigeonhole people’s efforts in our current sound-bite world. So, perhaps we, as individuals, have to be vigilant not to remain in our self-constructed boxes.
This Month's Technical Papers
Recommended Additional Reading
SPE 168263 2⅜-in.- and 2⅞-in.-Outer-Diameter Coiled-Tubing Operations in Gulf of Mexico Shelf: A Safe, Reliable, and Efficient Way To Prepare for Re-Entry of Wells To Conform to New BSEE Regulations by Carlos Torres, Schlumberger, et al.
SPE 168280 Comprehensive Analysis of Metal-to-Metal Lubricants in Oil-Shale Plays by Rair Barraez, Sanjel, et al.
SPE 168289 Rheology and Flow Characteristics of Xanthan in Calcium Chloride Brine by Kolapo A. Asafa, University of Oklahoma, et al.
Alex Crabtree, SPE, is senior advisor for well interventions and well integrity with Hess Corporation’s E&P Technology department. He has more than 32 years of experience in the upstream oil and gas industry. Crabtree holds a BS degree in mechanical engineering. He has worked in southeast Asia, the Middle East, Europe, North America, and South America, both onshore and offshore. Crabtree previously worked within the oilfield-services-company sector, holding various engineering and management posts in research and development, field operations, downhole tool design, and technology implementation. He has authored several SPE papers and is a past program committee chairperson for various SPE conferences and SPE Applied Technology Workshops. Crabtree was an SPE Distinguished Lecturer in 2001–2002 and is a member of the JPT Editorial Committee.