Has the Reservoir Class Program proven effective in demonstrating the application of new and existing technologies to prolong production in marginal fields?
How should this program be modified to improve its effectiveness in meeting this goal?
Because the field demonstration phases of most projects have not been in place long enough to be expected to produce significant increases in production, the panel’s conclusions and recommendations are based on a review of program procedures and individual project purpose, design, and progress. The panel concluded that the Reservoir Class Program is demonstrating advanced and conventional technologies that have the potential to prolong the lives of marginal oil fields.
Most projects in the Reservoir Class Program have an up-front reservoir characterization element that is intended to provide geologic and engineering parameters that will increase the effectiveness of the recovery technology being applied and help to define reservoir characteristics that will guide future applications. The emphasis on this program element varies considerably among the projects. The panel concluded that appropriate reservoir characterization is essential to the success of the program and that reservoir class is justified as the basis for organizing the program and for guiding the application of successful technologies. The panel concluded that in future phases of the program, DOE should encourage a larger number of proposals by opening up future proposal solicitations to meritorious projects from previously funded reservoir classes. This would also provide increased opportunities for application of cross-cutting technologies.
The process of selection and review of projects for the Reservoir Class Program originally was conducted by in-house DOE professionals supplemented by people with suitable expertise from other federal agencies. Concerns about the length and complexity of the proposal review, project selection, and contract negotiation process, however, led DOE to take actions to streamline the selection and contract negotiation process. The panel agreed that these changes would have the intended effect on procedures, but the panel was concerned that it would further limit the breadth of proposal and project review by qualified geoscientists and engineers. The panel also concluded that monitoring of progress and review of project results by recognized external peers is essential, and would improve the quality and acceptance of project outcomes.
Effective technology transfer is essential to the success of the program. Review of the technology transfer elements of several projects led to the conclusion that there is an over-reliance on loosely defined programs composed of standard communication techniques such as papers at technical meetings and workshops. Organizations geared toward technology transfer,