Formation Evaluation

A century after the 1918 flu pandemic, much of the world in early 2020 was experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown except a few places such as parts of Northern Europe. The reduced global demand for oil was one of the main reasons that the May futures contract for West Texas Intermediate crude fell to an unbelievable low level in late April. It was indeed an unprecedented historical moment. What has this to do with petroleum engineering in general and formation evaluation in particular? A lot.

In the short term, universities would experience significantly reduced enrollments in petroleum engineering and probably geoscience majors. The industry is quickly losing experienced hands and subject-matter experts; thus, activities in innovation and new technology development would suffer. Consequently, limited numbers of professionals and fewer new business impact solutions would be available when needed in the near future when the business comes back. Therefore, we must have a longer-term vision for business planning, balancing short-term challenges with long-term perspectives. This is especially true for professional retention and development.

Individually and collectively, we are currently facing undeniable difficult times. But, as has been said, challenges are also opportunities. It is a proper time for all of us to pause a bit and formulate way-forward plans that suit our needs. It is surely a good time to recharge ourselves with newly emerging skills to meet the anticipated future needs through various resources such as online training and webinars offered by service providers or from professional societies such as SPE.

In any case, oil will still be an irreplaceable resource that the world needs in the foreseeable future, and formation evaluation is a critical subject-matter area that the industry cannot exist without—from resources exploration, to field development, to production, all the way to abandonment.

We should sharpen our tools when we can so we will not be regretful when the time of needs comes.

This Month's Technical Papers

Formation-Fluid Microsampling While Drilling Enables Complete Reservoir Characterization

Integration of Formation Evaluation Data Overcomes Offshore Coring Challenges

Cased-Hole Solution Assesses Tight Reservoirs

Recommended Additional Reading

OTC 29782 Carbonate Porosity and Permeability From Sonic Logs by Fernando e Silva, Petrobras, et al.

IPTC 19635 Significance of Aeolian Deposit Resultant Drift Direction, Implications for Reservoir Prediction Using Subsurface and Analog Data by Mohammed Al-Masrahy, Saudi Aramco

IPTC 19816 Clay Typing From Downhole Array Electromagnetic Measurements by Ping Zhang, Schlumberger, et al.

Shouxiang (Mark) Ma, SPE, is a senior consultant overseeing research, technology, and professional development with the Reservoir Description Division of Saudi Aramco. Ma was supervisor of the Petrophysical Support and Study Unit, petrophysics adviser at the Upstream Professional Development Center, and petrophysical lead for logging operations. Before joining Saudi Aramco in 2000, he worked at the Exxon Production Research Company, Wyoming Western Research Institute, New Mexico Petroleum Recovery Research Center, and China Yangtze University. Ma has authored or coauthored more than 60 technical papers and holds several patents. He serves on the JPT Editorial Committee and the Society of Petrophysicists and Well Log Analysts (SPWLA) Board of Directors for the Middle East and Africa and is vice president of the SPWLA Saudi Arabia Chapter. Ma was chairperson of the 2018 SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition Formation Evaluation Committee, the 2019 International Petroleum Technology Conference Education Week Committee, and the 2012–13 SPE Formation Evaluation Award Committee. He holds a BS degree from China Petroleum University and MS and PhD degrees from New Mexico Tech, all in petroleum engineering. Ma can be reached at

Formation Evaluation

Shouxiang (Mark) Ma, SPE, Senior Consultant, Saudi Aramco

01 August 2020

Volume: 72 | Issue: 8



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