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Mature fields, also known as brownfields, are fields that are in a state of declining production or reaching the end of their productive lives. These fields are considered the “backbone” of the industry, though new discoveries and developments often take the limelight.
Defining a mature field
About two-thirds of the world’s daily oil production comes from mature fields, according to a report from IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates. For the purposes of the study, fields were considered mature if they had produced more than 50% of their established proved plus probable resource estimates or had produced for more than 25 years.
The term “mature field” has no single definition. Often, engineers consider fields mature when they have declined in production by more than 50% of their plateau rate. Different companies might apply their own specific definitions though. For example, Total considers the surface and the subsurface. For the subsurface, they consider a field mature when the cumulative production has reached 50% of the initial 2P (proved plus probable) reserves. And for the surface, they consider a field mature after 10 years of production. They use other criteria, but these are the main ones. Halliburton defines a mature field as “one where production has reached its peak and has started to decline.” 
Mature fields are seen as a valuable global resource, no matter the definition. Attempts to expand reserve levels come at a relatively low risk. Revitalizing a mature field means taking measures that increase the value extracted from the field beyond original expectation. Every field has a production curve over which production grows to a peak level and then declines until it reaches the point at which operation is no longer economic. Revitalization extends the natural decline curve to increase ultimate economic hydrocarbon production.
A variety of measures may be used, including the application of additional technology to characterize, monitor, and manage the producing reservoir; improve drilling and completions; and boost the recovery factor. Achieving significant cost reduction in field operations, through technology application or more effective work processes and business practices, can also play an important role.
- Parshall, J. 2012. Mature Fields Hold Big Expansion Opportunity. J Pet Technol 64 (10): 52 – 58. SPE-1012-0052-JPT. http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/1012-0052-JPT
- Hull, R. 2012. What is a Mature field? Halliburton Solutions Blog. http://halliburtonblog.com/what-is-a-mature-field.
- Parshall, J. 2012. Mature Fields Hold Big Expansion Opportunity. J Pet Technol 64 (10): 52 – 58. SPE-1012-0052-JPT. http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/1012-0052-JPT.
Noteworthy papers in OnePetro
Delshad, M., Varavei, A., Goudarzi, A. et al. 2013. Water Management in Mature Oil Fields using Preformed Particle Gels. Presented at the SPE Western Regional & AAPG Pacific Section Meeting 2013 Joint Technical Conference, Monterey, California, USA, 19–25 April. SPE-165356-MS. http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/165356-MS
Eson, R. 1997. Optimizing Mature Oil Fields Through the Utilization of Alternative Artificial Lift Systems. Presented at the SPE Western Regional Meeting, Long Beach, California, 25-27 June 1997. SPE-38336-MS. http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/38336-MS
Langston, E.P. and Shrier, J.A. 1985. Performance of Jay/LEC Fields Unit Under Mature Waterflood and Early Tertiary Operations. J Pet Technol 37 (2): 261–268. SPE-11986-PA. http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/11986-PA
Lawrence, J.J., Maer, N.K., Stern, D. et al. 2002. Jay Nitrogen Tertiary Recovery Study: Managing a Mature Field. Presented at the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 13-16 October 2002. SPE-78527-MS. http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/78527-MS
Luppens, J.C. 1995. Practical Automation for Mature Producing Areas. SPE Comp App 7 (2): 44-48. SPE-26591-PA. http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/26591-PA
Pathak, P., Fidra, Y., Avida, H. et al. 2004. The Arun Gas Field in Indonesia: Resource Management of a Mature Field. Presented at the SPE Asia Pacific Conference on Integrated Modelling for Asset Management, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 29-30 March. SPE-87042-MS. http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/87042-MS.
Woodling, G.S., Taylor, P.J., Sun, H.H. et al. 1993. Layered Waterflood Surveillance in a Mature Field: The Long Beach Unit. Presented at the SPE Western Regional Meeting, Anchorage, 26–28 May. SPE-26082-MS. http://dx.doi.org/10.2118/26082-MS
Wright, D. and Adair, R. 1993. Progressive Cavity Pumps Prove More Efficient in Mature Waterflood Tests. Oil & Gas J. 91 (32): 43.
Wu, F. 2014. Lessons Learned From the Applications of Performed Particle Gel in Mature Oilfields. Accepted to present at the 19th IOR Symposium, Tulsa, 12–16 April. SPE-169161-MS.
DiFiore, Amanda. "Human Factors in Automation." : Web Events. Society of Petroleum Engineers, 22 Sept. 2015. Web. https://webevents.spe.org/products/human-factors-in-automation.
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