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General Chair Welcome

Welcome to the official website for the Twenty-First SPE Improved Oil Recovery Conference, to be held in Tulsa, Oklahoma, from April 9th through April 13th, 2018. The Mid-Continent Section of the Society of Petroleum Engineers has hosted this biennial conference since 1978. Much has happened in the ensuing years -- several up and down cycles, each with its own challenges, have refined and expanded the definition of IOR. Many of the players have changed – producers, service sector, and academia too. But the goal remains the same – economically produce more of the oil that has already been discovered. This IOR conference remains one of the strongest IOR-focused conferences across the world.

IOR 2018’s theme is “Acceptance, Perseverance, and Disruption Enhance Future IOR.” Acceptance means coming to terms with a realistic future oil price scenario. Deepwater offshore and unconventional resources have come to terms that “waiting on” significantly higher oil prices does not a viable business make. Companies must learn to be profitable in the existing economic environment.

Perseverance recognizes that many “incremental” advances, each of which requires capital and work, will advance IOR technology. However, to profitably operate in the real economic world there is also a need for “disruption” – something that redefines the IOR playing field. Looking at unconventional resources, the combo of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing could be considered the disruptive technology. Thinking back to recent IOR history – what have the “disruptors” been?” BrightWater? LoSal? Nano applications? Residual Oil Zone CO2 flooding?

Do we know what tomorrow’s disruptors will be? I think not, or we would already be doing them. The offshore industry, particularly those developing and producing deepwater resources, consider “disruptive” technology a must. Through the Offshore Technology Conference’s “d5” event, thought leaders come from other industries to stimulate thinking of the oil and gas community. I have personally seen the power of disruptive thinking. At one stage in my career, I facilitated brainstorming between (1) very small independent producers and (2) leading researchers in the USA’s National Laboratories. As producers described their problems, researchers could readily see where their research, which often was not directly related to oil and gas, could, with minor adaptation, provide disruptive solutions.

In my day job I have the privilege of working with geoscientists across the globe, supporting volunteers as they develop workshops and conferences. Two observations stand out. The first is that IOR without due respect for what the geosciences bring handicaps any project. The second is to learn to look at IOR projects “across” the world to glean what applies to my project. Those developing the IOR 2018 technical program are working hard to bring in both global knowledge and the geosciences.

Life is not all work, and disruptive thinking can occur even during play. Downtown Tulsa is experiencing disruptive changes – it’s not the sleepy place you may remember. It may prove difficult, but we are working hard to develop a program and schedule to provide a time window and opportunity to go “play” and be “disruptive” (in your thinking, that is).

I hope to see you in April 2018 at IOR 2018.



E.Lance Cole
General Chair, IOR 2018