Patrick Corbett

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Patrick Corbett
BSc Geology
MSc Micropalaeontology
PhD Petroleum Engineering
BSc university Exeter University
MSc university University College London
PhD university Heriot-Watt University

Patrick W. M. Corbett started in the industry in 1978 at Unocal and worked in various positions in international (United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Indonesia) exploration and development geoscience. Since coming to Heriot-Watt University in 1989, his research focus has been on the integration of geoscience and engineering through geologic analysis, petrophysical measurement, permeability anisotropy modeling, well test interpretation, dynamic upscaling, and genetic petrophysics.

Corbett graduated with a degree in geology (Exeter University, 1977), followed by an MSc in micropalaeontology (University College London, 1978), a postgraduate diploma in geological statistics (Kingston University, 1982), and a PhD and DSc in petroleum engineering and petroleum geoengineering (both from Heriot-Watt University, 1993 and 2006, respectively). He is a member of AAPG, EAGE, SEG, Geol. Soc., IAS, PESGB, SCA, SEPM, SPE, and SPWLA, and is a Chartered Geologist, and a Chartered Scientist. He has coauthored the books Statistics for Petroleum Engineers and Geoscientists and Cores from the Northwest European Hydrocarbon Province.

Corbett was an EAGE Distinguished Lecturer (Petroleum Geoengineering) in 1998 and an SPE Distinguished Lecturer (Integration of Geology and Well Testing) in 1998–99. In 2005, he was awarded the Wegener Medal by EAGE for the integration of geoscience and geoengineering. Patrick was awarded the 2006 SPE Europe and Russia Regional Technical Award for Distinguished Contribution to Petroleum Engineering in the Area of Reservoir Description and Dynamics.

2009 SEG/EAGE Distinguished Instructor Short Course

Petroleum Geoengineering: Integration of static and dynamic models

This course in designed for a broad range of geoscientists and engineers working in the petroleum industry. The course provides improved linkage between the techniques used at various scales to describe and model petroleum reservoirs. The ultimate objectives are to enable technical staff to maximize the recovery of hydrocarbons. The impact of petrophysical heterogeneity at various scales on the recovery of oil and gas provides the focus for the course.

  • The course introduction shows how petroleum geoengineering concepts have developed along with the requirement for more integrated and synergistic technical teams addressing reservoir development projects.
  • The course emphasizes the links between the stratigraphic controls on geobody architecture (and properties), the connectivity, and the ultimate recovery factors.
  • Petrophysical and rock physics properties are measured at a variety of scales. An exercise will explore how averages can be used to determine effective properties at larger scales.
  • Reservoir models are built by industry using a range of geostatistical techniques, and these require calibration by dynamic measurements at various scales. The role of seismic in modeling is considered at the appropriate stage.
  • Sweep efficiency and recovery factors are determined by scales of lateral and vertical heterogeneity. The use of the Lorenz and Modified Lorenz plots is demonstrated in an exercise to illustrate the importance of internal reservoir architecture in controlling recovery factors.
  • The course challenges subsurface teams to consider strategies for improving oil recovery and, with the high demand and price, to target ever higher recovery factors.

Interview with Patrick[1]

Patrick Corbett, Total professor of petroleum geoengineering at Heriot-Watt University and until recently head of the university's Institute of Petroleum Engineering, will embark this year on the SEG/EAGE Distinguished Instructor Short Course (DISC) worldwide tour presenting Petroleum Geoengineering: Integration of Static and Dynamic Models. We asked him about his background and view of the task ahead.

For those who do not know you, could you please briefly introduce yourself? I was very fortunate to grow up on the Dorset Coast and get involved with geology from an early age. I studied geology (BSc, Exeter, 1977) and then micropalaeontology (MSc, UCL, 1978) before going to work in the petroleum industry as a mudlogger. My wellsite time in Denmark and the North Sea equipped me for the opportunity to join Unocal as a rookie geologist. After spending time in Sunbury, Aberdeen, The Hague, and Balikpappan, I left the oil industry in 1988 to embark on a PhD at Heriot-Watt University in petroleum engineering to pursue an interest in linking the various subsurface disciplines closer together. I have stayed on, recently stepping down after five and a half years as head of the Institute of Petroleum Engineering. When the opportunity was given to undertake this DISC tour, I was very honored to be asked and jumped at the chance.

The title of your one day SEG/EAGE DISC course is Petroleum Geoengineering: Integration of Static and Dynamic Models." Could you tell us in a few sentences what the course objectives are? The objectives of the course are to lay out in a "holistic" way the integrated workflow that, I believe, we should be evolving towards. Rocks are fundamentally very heterogeneous at many length scales and this poses real challenges as we cross from one discipline to another.

In the title the word "geoengineering" catches the eye—could you please tell us a bit more about this integration of geoscience and engineering and your involvement in it? Geoengineering has been used to express planetary-scale engineering (particularly in response to climate change). I use petroleum geoengineering to focus on planetary oil recovery factors rather than a specific oil field. The focus is on what is common to all reservoirs and how we can better understand and exploit these factors more effectively in order to improve hydrocarbon recovery.

Are there any more specific areas that you want to emphasize. For example, how do you define the difference between static and dynamic models? There are certain workflows from geology through petrophysics to well testing that I don't think we exploit enough. This coupling between static and dynamic aspects of the reservoir behavior is critical to laying the groundwork for effective hydrocarbon recovery. We have increasingly smart wells and we need to have increasingly smart reservoir description in order to fully utilize the benefits of technology available. The cross-disciplinary training of geoscientists and engineers strives to keep up and I trust those attending will find this contribution useful.

The target audience of your course consists of all subsurface disciplines (geology, geophysics, petrophysicists, geomodellers, reservoir, and petroleum engineers). Does this mean that you have to "dumb down" the content? In a one day course to such a broad audience I will strive to teach everyone something new. Clearly some attendees will already be very familiar with some parts, but I trust that they will find useful the linkages that I'm able to point out. This concept of "dumbing down" is an interesting one. For the last 15 years that I have been teaching at Heriot-Watt, I have found that emphasizing points over and over can be useful—even if people have done it before. One day reviewing the wide spectrum of skills needed for our core business—maximizing oil recovery—would see to be time usefully spent.

What do you hope people will have learned after they have attended your course? If they learn that there is always more to be learned in this business, then that will encourage them to pursue skills development—usually broadening—that will stand them in good stead. I hope to encourage some attendees to set off down the "geoengineering" road and develop our scientific understanding and engineering ability further in areas that I highlight as needing more attention. One aspect that will become the increasing focus of the long-term future of the oil and gas business will be the recovery factor and how to improve it.

You have quite a busy year ahead as you will present your course in about 25 SEG and EAGE locations around the world. Do you enjoy traveling? Will it be difficult to combine the tour with your work at Heriot-Watt? Traveling has been a part of my academic career as one has to go out and meet people: to teach, present papers, and learn from conferences. Networking through face to face contact cannot easily be replaced. I am fortunate to have taught courses in Spain, Russia, Norway, Libya, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Malaysia, and China in my time at Heriot-Watt University. I do feel guilty about the carbon footprint I generate—but it would be more if all the students came to me! There is technology to do everything by video conference—and we do this for exam presentations (through the night!)—but it's not easy to teach that way. Heriot-Watt University is Scotland's most international university with 75% of the students from abroad—so this is bread and butter business for my organization.

You have indicated you want to offset your carbon footprint involved in your travels as a DISC instructor. We think this is a great initiative. Can you explain how this will work in your case and what led you to this. I'm one of these people that tries to mitigate carbon in all aspects of lifestyle. Whatever our beliefs with respect to the drivers of climate change, even the few remaining sceptics can surely agree with the precautionary principle. I recently crushed a car and now always travel by bus to work. The EAGE and SEG have agreed to pay my carbon footprint when travelling and I hope this will inspire others to do the same. We will choose a scheme that helps to mitigate carbon in some form. I recently took the train from Edinburgh to Brussels for an SPE meeting—although taking trains any further afield becomes a challenge. For my personal travel I plant trees and in IPE we try to spend our carbon footprint on environmental projects. We have an annual student prize for the best CO2 project in the Institute of Petroleum Engineering. I find that doing something personal can have an impact if we are consistent and persistent.

Additional Resources

The accompanying textbook is available for purchase.[2]

A recording (online streaming version) of this course also is available.[3]


External links

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Patrick Corbett
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