Digitalization, Unconventionals, and Sustainability Take Center Stage at ATCE 2019

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When thousands of E&P professionals descend upon Calgary in September for the 2019 SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition (ATCE), it will mark the first time in SPE’s more than 90-year history that the event will take place in Canada. Engineers, scientists, management professionals, and policymakers from throughout the world will gather from 30 September–2 October to learn about the latest technologies and their applications, network, and share insights on the collective goals of the industry. The 2019 conference will continue the strong focus on big data and digitalization that dominated the 2018 ATCE. Not surprisingly, the 2019 conference will also focus on two key targets—unconventional resource optimization and sustainability.

More than 300 presentations in various E&P disciplines will help attendees learn about innovative technologies, practices, and trends. Key topics will include the following:

  • Unconventional completions optimization
  • Unconventional reservoir characterization
  • Strategies and tactics for digitalization
  • Digital transformation in petrophysics
  • Socially responsible engineering
  • Data analytics
  • Reframing environmental sustainability challenges as opportunities for innovation

The technical program will also emphasize topics specific to Canadian heavy oil and unconventional resources. Other program topics include wellbore integrity and barrier assurance, EOR processes, stimulation in challenging wellbore conditions, and nanotechnology for the oil field.

ATCE Firsts

Meeting in Canada will not be the only “first” for ATCE in 2019. Monday morning’s inaugural SPE Women in Industry Committee ATCE Breakfast will feature SPE President-Elect and Director of Artificial Lift Engineering for Occidental Petroleum Shauna Noonan as keynote speaker. Noonan and invited panelists will facilitate discussion about personal professional engagement, empowerment, and success. Also new at the 2019 conference will be a president’s session and reception on Wednesday afternoon, in which 2018 SPE President Sami Alnuaim will provide an update on new society achievements and upcoming initiatives and attendees will be able to meet SPE board members and Noonan.

Opening Session on Sustainability

On Monday morning, a panel of senior executives from OPEC, Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, and Gazprom Neft will discuss questions on sustainability issues, including the following:

  • How can we become better at balancing the three pillars of sustainable development?
  • What does the public expect of us?
  • How can we excel technically to be the most efficient energy provider while protecting the source and the planet?
  • What new technologies could help us be more effective?

The discussion will continue in other special sessions on Monday designed to help attendees with communication, stakeholder risk, and opportunity management, and strategy-setting skills to proactively engage with diverse stakeholders and find ways to balance competing requirements. A Tuesday special session will examine the current state of carbon capture, utilization, and storage, including incidental storage during EOR; stakeholder engagement, awareness, and acceptance; and socioeconomic influences and political circumstances that are likely to shape various stakeholders’ views in the near and long term. Another Tuesday session, on incorporating the UN social sustainability goals into industry operations, will be a senior-level discussion on output from the recent SPE Gaia Summit and 2019 SPE President Sami Alnuaim’s year of sustainability engagement. Alnuaim will also participate in a Wednesday panel discussion on where the industry currently stands with UN Sustainable Development Goal 5—Gender Equality in the Oil and Gas Industry, how the industry can improve on achieving this goal, and what are the obstacles.

Data and Digitalization Sessions

Two dinner sessions on Sunday evening will offer attendees options to hear from thought leaders on one of two topics. Smart Remote Operations: Realities, Risks, and Rewards will feature a panel of experts discussing concepts ranging from remote operations and support to full remote control, to radically minimally staffed operations. Examples will come both from oil and gas and from other industries. The second dinner session will focus on accelerating digital transformation through bridging information technology and the oil and gas sector. Discussion will include fit-for-purpose solutions, consulting industry perspectives for reducing adoption hurdles and implementation risks, and learnings from healthcare and other leaders in digital implementation.

Data analytics is a skillset that is becoming increasingly valuable in the E&P industry. A special session on Monday will introduce people new to analytics to the methods behind the application and technologies available to help, and will provide examples of where data analytics is already being used both inside and outside the industry to generate value.

At a Monday dinner talk, experts from Chevron, ExxonMobil, and Rice University will discuss the important implications of the lack of a coherent framework for understanding, analyzing, and synthesizing deep learning architectures for consumers, practitioners, and researchers of machine learning.

A special panel session on Tuesday will address the rising use of drones in oil and gas operations, and discuss the safety and economic benefits as well as questions about undetected risks and their consequences. In a second panel on Wednesday, leaders in strategies and tactics for digitalization will share their hands-on experience.

Another Tuesday special session—“Automation of the Well Construction Process: How Far Have We Gone; How Can We Go Further; Is It Worth It?”—will build on the 2018 standing-room-only session on the same topic, with discussion addressing finding the “sweet spot” among levels of automation, collaboration, and likely returns on investment.

Unconventionals Continue in the Spotlight

Unconventional resources continue to occupy the spotlight both directly and indirectly in the 2019 ATCE technical program. In addition to its strong role in technical sessions, the topic will be the subject of a Tuesday special session, “Understanding North American Unconventional Resources Dominance.” This session will provide a techno-economic comparison of key Canadian resource plays to those being developed in the United States and emerging plays in South America. The session will critically review all main geological, engineering, and economic factors that drive well productivity, EURs, capital strategies, and breakeven pricing to enable better understanding the current market and future growth opportunities. Industry professionals from key operators will discuss their approach to resource development and funding allocation in an increasingly competitive market.

Returning Favorites

Longstanding ATCE favorites and recent additions will be on the 2019 program in Calgary. These include the following.

  • Training courses, student meet and greet, leadership workshop, SPE leadership opening reception—Saturday and Sunday
  • Annual SPE student chapter PetroBowl championship—Monday
  • International student paper contests and student awards luncheon—Tuesday
  • ATCE Startup Village—Tuesday. ATCE 2019 will be the third year for the Startup Village, a partnership between SPE and the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship at Rice University. The Startup Village consists of the Energy Startup Competition in the morning; expert presentations and table discussions in the afternoon; and competition for a portion of $70,000 or more in cash prizes.
For more information about the conference, visit

Digitalization, Unconventionals, and Sustainability Take Center Stage at ATCE 2019

01 August 2019

Volume: 71 | Issue: 8

No editorial available



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