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Dr. K. H. Coats

 

Requirements for Substantiation

January 2017

Many years ago, most authors recognized and complied with substantiation requirements for all claims and conclusions, but that has changed.  Frequent omissions or inadequate practices include:

  • Incomplete data for examples

  • No absolute performance figures (timings)

  • Concluding that some method is superior, based on relative performance or accuracy of particular implementations - implementation issues can easily dominate those of methodology.

  • Improper use of a method (implementation) over which superiority is claimed

Publications making claims in recent years often fail to give complete results for reproducible examples or tests.  These are absolutely necessary requirements, since they allow others to compare results with their methods/techniques/implementations that may not have been available to the authors.  It is otherwise impossible for others, including our editors, to verify any claim.

Suggestions to SPE and discussion of these issues over the years on SPE's Technical Interest Group forums have had no positive effect.  Some documentation of it is on our FD vs FE page.  Some recent discussions on the SPE Reservoir group forum also clearly demonstrate the problem with substantiation and rational debate and the common use of obsolete and invalid methods (SPE login and group membership are required):

GALE - new algorith for integrated asset modeling, and

Exponential Decline of Waterflood Production Forecast - Myth or Reality

The reliability of our literature and of our methods is falling due to the lack of any imposed requirement and failure by most for substantiation of claims made in publications, which eliminates the ability of our editors and our industry to distinguish fact from fiction.  Our competence as engineers and scientists is in decline because of inability to use and follow the scientific method (and the simple rules of rational scientific debate), which requires use of the simplest possible logic and reproducible examples, tests, or experiments in the analysis of problems and in the substantiation of claims, methods, and solutions.  Those examples or tests are most easily defined by adding whatever complexity is needed to a previously known example or test.

The Conference of Engineering Societies of Western Europe and the United States of America defined "professional engineer" in 1960 as follows [Engineering Identities, Epistemologies and Values: Engineering Education and Practice in Context, Volume 2, p. 170, at Google Books]:

"A professional engineer is competent by virtue of his/her fundamental education and training to apply the scientific method and outlook to the analysis and solution of engineering problems..."

Problems obviously must first be analyzed before they can be solved.  Professional engineers do not try to solve problems that cannot be proven to exist.  And they do not prevent rational scientific debate regarding any problem or solution.

We are having increasing problems producing reliable industry reference works or reports, workshops, journals, and courses (it's a problem for all technical publishers and organizations).  We publish conference papers making any desired claims without making any stated requirement for substantiation, and allow their use as factual references.  Our most important real mission right now should be "unpublishing and unteaching" all of the unsubstantiated or obsolete work that has been published and created and taught.  An example is given at Novel Techniques for Reservoir Management. Unlimited numbers of examples appear in journal and conference papers.  Searches of One-Petro for terms such as flow regime (15804 hits), type curve (42677 hits), drainage radius (7296 hits), drainage area (18125 hits), drainage volume (16927 hits), CO2 storage (14899 hits), effective permeability (40819 hits), capacitance-resistance model (872 hits) and shape factor (28036 hits).  These terms usually indicate misperceptions.  Much of it results from misapplication of single component or fixed-composition, single phase or 2 phase immiscible, single cell or 1D homogeneous flow theory to 3d multi-component multiphase flow in real reservoirs with arbitrary boundaries and heterogeneities (see What is Drainage Radius and The Failure of Decline Curve Analysis for Real 3D Multiphase Systems, and the Petroleum Engineering Handbook, "Fluid Flow Through Permeable Media" - we corrected the section to indicate it addresses only generally inapplicable single component or fixed-composition single phase flow in homogeneous systems, but our edits were removed by incompetent and fraudulent editors, in flagrant violation of our ethical codes.  Some is regarding the unsubstantiated claims that man is causing global warming and that CO2 storage is needed or can be beneficial (see CO2 Capture, Usage and Storage (CCUS) Techical Section).  About 10% of available SPE courses are based on obsolete or inapplicable or invalid technology due to invalid assumptions.  These are some of the them:

Basic Pressure-Transient Analysis

Diagnosis and Analysis of Waterfloods

Forecasting Well Production Data in Unconventional Reservoirs

Geological Sequestration of CO2

Geomechanical Aspects in CO2 Storage

Geomechanics for Effective Shale Gas Exploitation

History Matching and Conditioning Reservoir Models to Dynamic Data

Introduction to Reservoir Engineering

Managing your Business Using PRMS and SEC Standards

Oil and Gas Reserves: The SEC Reporting Rules

Optimizing Existing Waterfloods

Practical Application of PRMS (there is no such thing)

Practical Aspects of CO2 Flooding and CO2 Geosequestration (there are no practical aspects of the latter)

...

We have tried to fix the problem many times over the last 15 years, but our efforts have been ignored and even persecuted.  A few years ago, Brian Coats started the SPE group LinkedIn discussion "Let's fix the peer review process", giving a very simple solution of simply adding a question to the paper application process verifying that any claims of improvement are substantiated by the simplest possible reproducible examples or tests that demonstrate it.  Moderators banned Brian Coats from the SPE Linkedin group as a result, to this day, for suggesting a solution to a problem that many strongly opposed or didn't believe was needed, after Brian responded by substantiating the problem with examples.

The proposed solution is (was):

  1. Factual references to (unreviewed) conference papers are not allowed in any papers or publications.

  2. Add a question to the paper submission form:  If your paper claims any improvements in method or technology, does it include the simplest possible reproducible examples or tests to substantiate them?  Claims of improvement must be supported by at least one reproducible example or test (the problem or test must be defined and reproducible, not the improved solution or results).

Another problem is that such constructive criticism and statements including proposed solutions are censored and not allowed in SPE discussion forums (see Carbon Dioxide Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS) Technical Section).

When something is demonstrated or proven that is contrary to accepted practice or thought, it may be considered to be offensive (like when the earth was discovered to be round), but that actually represents scientific progress that is most often gained by identifying and eliminating invalid assumptions, such as all those eliminated by multi-component, multiphase 3d numerical simulation of heterogeneous reservoirs, starting over 50 years ago.*

 

SPE Code of Conduct

SPE Professionals:

8. Accept responsibility for their actions; seek and acknowledge criticism of their work; offer honest and constructive criticism of the work of others; properly credit the contributions of others; and do not accept credit for work that is not their own work.

 

NSPE  Code of Ethics for Engineers:

I. Fundamental Canons

Engineers, in the fulfillment of their professional duties, shall:

1.        Hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public.

2.        Perform services only in areas of their competence.

3.        Issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner.

4.        Act for each employer or client as faithful agents or trustees.

5.        Avoid deceptive acts.

6.        Conduct themselves honorably, responsibly, ethically, and lawfully so as to enhance the honor, reputation, and usefulness of the profession.

II. Rules of Practice

1. Engineers shall hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public.

3. Engineers shall issue public statements only in an objective and truthful manner.

a. Engineers shall be objective and truthful in professional reports, statements, or testimony. They shall include all relevant and pertinent information in such reports, statements, or testimony, which should bear the date indicating when it was current.

b. Engineers may express publicly technical opinions that are founded upon knowledge of the facts and competence in the subject matter.

III. Professional Obligations

1. Engineers shall be guided in all their relations by the highest standards of honesty and integrity.

2. Engineers shall at all times strive to serve the public interest.

3. Engineers shall avoid all conduct or practice that deceives the public.

a. Engineers shall avoid the use of statements containing a material misrepresentation of fact or omitting a material fact.

5. Engineers shall avoid deceptive acts.

9. Engineers shall give credit for engineering work to those to whom credit is due, and will recognize the proprietary interests of others.

 

* Coats, K.H., Tek, M.R., and Katz, D.L., "Unsteady-State Liquid Flow through Porous Media Having Elliptical Boundaries", Petroleum Transactions, AIME, Vol 216, 1959, p. 460-464.

Coats, K.H., Nielsen, R.L., Terhune, M.H., and Weber, A.G., "Simulation of Three-Dimensional, Two-Phase Flow in Oil and Gas Reservoirs", SPE Journal, December, 1967.


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