SPE Distinguished Lecturer

Schlumberger Careers

Oliver C. Mullins, Asphaltene Gradients, Connectivity and Tar Mats All Treated by Simple Chemistry and Reservoir Fluid Geodynamics

Dr. Oliver C. Mullins is a Schlumberger Fellow and member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering. He leads a newly codified discipline, Reservoir Fluid Geodynamics, which uses downhole fluid analysis and asphaltene science to achieve novel reservoir evaluation.

Please explain the topic of your SPE lecture.

“In most human endeavors, complexities are evaluated in terms of their origin. For example, if a person has a new medical problem, the doctor wants to know when the problem started and how it progressed. Similarly, to evaluate reservoirs, geologists always consider the depositional setting and the subsequent changes—i.e., the structural geodynamics.

However, this same workflow is not typically performed on oil. There has been very little modeling of changes in the distribution of crude oil components after emplacement in the reservoir.

Now, with Reservoir Fluid Geodynamics (RFG), we can account for processes that dictate fluid and tar distribution in oilfield reservoirs, and we can characterize their evolution over geologic time. This gives us a much clearer evaluation of the reservoir, which is directly linked to the efficiency of production.”

How has RFG emerged during your career span?

“Three developments occurred before RFG fully emerged as a discipline: 1) Starting 20 years ago, we developed asphaltene thermodynamics; 2) during this time, we also developed downhole fluid analysis; and 3) finally, over the last 20 years, we’ve completed approximately 40 oilfield studies, increasingly from the RFG perspective.”

“Reservoir Fluid Geodynamics enables us to understand the processes that affect the distribution of crude oil components in reservoirs. This has a significant impact on the efficiency of production.”

How does RFG factor into Schlumberger’s technological leadership in the industry?

“In each of those three developments, Schlumberger has established leadership as demonstrated by our many books, papers and citations on these topics. In addition, RFG is founded on superlative measurements. The new Ora intelligent wireline formation testing platform, incorporates the necessary advances in measurement and operational efficiency that provide the data required to perform RFG evaluation of reservoirs.”

Why have you chosen this lecture topic?

“Asphaltene science and the technology of downhole fluid analysis have been passions of mine since I joined Schlumberger 33 years ago. We started applying asphaltene science and DFA for thermodynamic reservoir modeling 20 years ago as a nascent vision. After this long time, the vision is fully formed and tested, giving great insight into the earth science associated with oilfield reservoirs.”

Oliver Mullins headshot

Schlumberger Fellow

Start Date: 1987