Selma likes to puzzle

/ November 25, 2014/ IMAU, Ocean Circulation and Climate

selmaIt has been a while since I finished my PhD at the IMAU in December 2010. Since then, I had a number of “jobs”, ranging from ski instructor to project coordinator. However, my first real job started in April 2012, at Shell Global Solutions, in the department Projects & Technology (P&T).

Everybody knows Shell. But Shell is much bigger and has much more variety in jobs than most people realize. The department where I work, P&T, does all sorts of project work for “Shell in the world”. Studies and calculations that cannot be done next to the day-to-day job of the people that operate the oil and gas fields, either because there is not enough manpower, or not enough specific knowledge.

A project in P&T can take a couple of weeks to about 2 years in time. Usually project teams consist of a very diverse mix of people, e.g. geologists, economists, concept engineers (who make sure a certain design is according to all the specifications), process engineers (who focus on the design, operation, control, and optimization of chemical and/or physical processes), production technologists (who govern what goes on inside wells) and reservoir engineers, like myself.

A reservoir engineer (RE) is responsible for calculations and measurements that have to do with movement of fluids through the rocks under the surface, of which the most important are flow of oil, gas and water, and reservoir pressures. Due to my background, I quickly became a reservoir simulation modeller. Up to now, my biggest project was the making of a new full field model of the Qatar North Field, which is the biggest known gas field in the world, with about 1200×1012 cu ft (cubic feet – ridiculous units, but you get used to it) of gas. As a comparison, the second largest field has about 200×1012 cu ft, and Groningen about 75×1012 cu ft.

This enormous field is operated by a number of gas companies, which basically means that the balloon is depleted via multiple holes, of which we don’t exactly know how large they are. Questions that a reservoir simulation model needs to answer are: Are we able to maintain a certain volume per day for a long period? How does the gas flow underground (do our competitors suck gas from our area)? How will the pressures evolve, do we need to use compression to make sure the gas keeps flowing up the wellbores? Are there geological features that limit or block flow, e.g. faults or shales (very low permeability)? Because this gas field is offshore, compaction (causing earthquakes) is not really an issue.

What do I like about my job? I like solving puzzles, regardless of whether it has to do with the flow of oil though porous rock or to eddying currents. I like working in teams, everybody adding their little piece to the whole. And most of all, I love that I get so much opportunity to do courses, gather knowledge and learn new skills.

Selma Huisman