Engineering - Reservoir Management

Handling Risk and Uncertainty in Mature Fields



  Dr Mark Bentley (AGR TRACS International, Aberdeen, United Kingdom)
Dr Richard Oxlade (AGR TRACS International, Aberdeen, United Kingdom)


  1 day


  Engineering – Reservoir Management






  5 CPD points




Course description

The quantification of risk and uncertainty is often discussed in the context of exploration and appraisal, yet most of the upstream E&P business concerns decision-making in producing assets.


Uncertainty-handling in development and production differs from that in E&A, as it must deal with a growing and often imperfect production data base against a backdrop of constantly changing circumstances. As the life cycle progresses, initial uncertainties over volume and productivity narrow but are supplanted by new uncertainties such as sweep efficiency, fine-scale architecture and changing responses to new production mechanisms and techniques. These new issues demand a change in approach for the quantification of uncertainty and vigilance is required to avoid the subsurface interpretation simply collapsing onto a best guess.


This course explores the key aspects required to manage subsurface uncertainties and associated risks during the producing field life, in terms of People (identifying and avoiding common biases and heuristics that lead to poor decisions), Tools (making the best choice for given situations, balancing determinism and probability) and Approach (practical methodologies that avoid getting bogged down in unnecessary detail).

The course closes with a set of questions to ask yourself and others, suitable for reference in informal personal or team assessments, peer reviews and peer assists.


Course objectives

Upon completion of the course, participants will be able to:

  • Clarify risk and uncertainty definitions;
  • Summarise situations where statistical mistakes are typically made;
  • Describe the tools commonly available for quantifying uncertainty and the pros and cons of each;
  • Explain common sources of bias and how to overcome them;
  • Lay out a strategy for handling risk and uncertainty that an integrated team could follow when working mature fields.


Course outline

  • Context: decision-making in producing assets and the key differences with uncertainty in E&A;
  • Definitions and Fundamentals: key aspects we often get wrong: conditional probabilities, sampling and errors of estimation;
  • People: recognising sources of bias, common heuristics and how to minimise them;
  • Tools: the options available, balancing simplicity and complexity, determinism and probability and the pros and cons of each;
  • Practical workflows: stitching tools of choice into a coherent methodology, the primacy of the underlying concept, the choice between forward modelling and inversion: the Forth Rail Bridge;
  • Advice: questions to yourselves and others when reviewing.


Participants' profile

Petroleum engineers working in mature fields (all disciplines) and co-workers involved in integrated teams.



Basic petroleum engineering (any discipline).


About the instructors

Dr Mark Bentley

Mark Bentley has spent most of his career working in or leading integrated study teams, initially with Shell and subsequently with TRACS (now part of AGR) where he currently designs and runs courses and directs the TRACS Training programme. His specialist fields of expertise are 3D reservoir modelling and scenario-based approaches to handling subsurface uncertainty and risk. Mark has served as a distinguished lecturer for the SPE and the EAGE, and has delivered training courses on every continent, except Antarctica.




Dr Richard Oxlade

Richard Oxlade is an oil and gas industry business advisor with a petroleum/reservoir engineering background. He worked for BP in a range of technical, commercial and leadership roles and at AGR has taught and consulted in the areas of reservoir engineering and development concept selection. He is recognised as a strong analytical thinker who can cover strategic issues and is respected for providing business advice at all levels of organisations up to CEO level. He has a track record of bringing multi-disciplinary teams together, complemented by enthusiasm for developing others through coaching and training.


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