By Farah Altarouti

SPE-KSA T&PP Team Member 

The SPE Distinguished Lecturer Program, hosted by the SPE-KSA Technical and Professional Programs (T&PP), serves as a dynamic catalyst for knowledge sharing and technical development in the oil and gas industry. Through the hosting of distinguished lecturers, T&PP provides a powerful platform to enhance technical capabilities and foster the growth of industry professionals in Saudi Arabia. The program’s first event of this prominent series was held on November 19th, 2023, featuring renowned geomechanics expert Dr. Claudia Sorgi, who brought her extensive experience to the forefront with the participation of 70 attendees.

Dr. Sorgi, an esteemed figure in the field of theoretical and applied geomechanics, captivated the audience with her thought-provoking lecture titled “New Energy, New Challenges: Are Geomechanics Solutions Advanced Enough for the Transition Journey?” In her engaging presentation, she delved into the emerging challenges and limitations faced by the evolving energy sectors. Dr. Sorgi shed light on the immense potential of geomechanics modeling to provide solutions that can facilitate a seamless energy transition.

Traditionally, geomechanics modeling solutions in the petroleum industry have considered a single phase in saturated porous soils and rocks, forming the basis for reservoir monitoring and modeling. However, Dr. Sorgi emphasized that these solutions often oversimplify the complexities of modern-day scenarios, which predominantly involve multiphase systems. She urged the industry to recognize that geomechanics modeling has evolved far beyond its current applications and has the potential to play a pivotal role in subsurface characterization, propelling us forward on the path to sustainable energy solutions.

As the industry rapidly shifts towards geothermal energy and carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration (CCUS) endeavors, Dr. Sorgi highlighted the risks associated with carbon dioxide sequestration. These risks include compromising the integrity of reservoirs, seals, and wells, as well as potential issues with well injectivity and surface heave. The lecture also explored the challenges of short-term CO2 injection in depleted reservoirs, a common strategy for secondary enhanced oil recovery, and the long-term effects of CO2 storage on cement integrity, such as increased porosity and mechanical damage. The effective incorporation of new energy solutions in practical modeling will largely contribute to the success of both geothermal energy and carbon storage endeavors.

In her closing remarks, Dr. Sorgi emphasized the immense value the oil and gas industry’s vast experience in subsurface measurements, characterization, and modeling can bring to energy transition applications. She called for the integration of Thermo-Hydro-Mechanical-Chemical (THMC) Coupling into geomechanics solutions for operational subsurface characterization and modeling. While this approach has been successfully utilized in academic applications, it remains an untapped field in oil and gas reservoir modeling. Dr. Sorgi encouraged industry professionals to find an approach beyond oversimplification while avoiding unnecessary complexity.

The lecture drew a diverse audience of professionals and subject matter experts eager to engage with Dr. Sorgi. The post-lecture session witnessed lively discussions, with attendees posing insightful questions on various aspects of the lecture. This event perfectly aligned with the mission of SPE-KSA T&PP to empower professionals, facilitate knowledge exchange, and build valuable connections within the ever-evolving oil and gas industry in Saudi Arabia.

The SPE Distinguished Lecturer Program continues to make a significant impact by keeping professionals updated with the latest industry trends and advancements. It serves as a beacon of excellence, fostering a culture of continuous learning and collaboration that ultimately contributes to the sustainable development of the oil and gas industry in Saudi Arabia and beyond.

To explore further reading segments related to the topic: Dr. Claudia Sorgi