Technical excellence in the Eagle Ford: Jason Jweda

by Gus Morgan

Extracting hydrocarbons out of an unconventional reservoir is a technical endeavor and a complex undertaking even for the experts. That’s why it’s good to have Jason Jweda on your team.

“We have all of these questions about the reservoir,” said Jason, a geochemist working in the Eagle Ford. “We’re still trying to figure out the system — how drainage works and how best to optimize it. At the end of the day, understanding the reservoir behavior allows us to maximize value for ConocoPhillips in terms of resource recovery and lowering cost of supply.”

Jason is known for his technical expertise and extensive knowledge-sharing and collaboration skills. For six years, he’s led Eagle Ford geochemical analysis and interpretation efforts within the company’s Gulf Coast reservoir characterization team. He helped develop and has used time-lapse geochemistry methodology to determine drainage dynamics and increase recoverable resources.

To recognize his accomplishments, ConocoPhillips honored Jason with a 2019 SPIRIT of Performance Award for Outstanding Early Career Technologist.

Jason in front of wall of sedimentary rock
 Jason investigates and maps out the geology of Idaho’s Basin and Range Province. Geochemistry, a subdiscipline of geology, has been a mainstay and favorite subject for Jason throughout his academic and professional career.

It’s technical

Jason, who has a doctorate in geochemistry/geology from Columbia University, has an insatiable appetite for knowledge. At this point in his career, his primary focus is to become a subject matter expert in geochemistry. But he’s also expanding his integration skills and empowering himself to pursue different aspects of the oil and gas industry.

Jason’s areas of expertise include time-lapse geochemistry; oil fingerprinting and correlation; production allocation; produced water geochemistry; hydrocarbon gas and isotopic characterization; fluid property prediction; source rock analysis; chemostratigraphy; and basin modeling.

Working faster and smarter

When it comes to unconventional reservoirs, teamwork and knowledge sharing are crucial. Jason excels at both.

Not only is he a master collaborator, he’s shared Eagle Ford learnings and techniques with ConocoPhillips’ Technology group and the company’s other unconventional business units. And he routinely presents results of the time-lapse geochemistry program, including nearly 350 wells and more than 100 pilot projects.

Finding solutions in unconventional reservoirs, Jason said, requires numerous integration points.

“It’s a huge effort,” he said, “and it requires coordinating different functions and disciplines. One tool or methodology isn’t effective by itself. But when you have a large, integrated effort, you can innovate and push the organization forward and drive as much value out of the reservoir as possible.”

Research efforts

Jason’s career and technical achievements have advanced in step with the company’s Eagle Ford field development. Back in 2017, he was part of the team that received a SPIRIT of Performance Award for optimizing stacking, spacing and completion designs. Jason helped with the technical work involving time-lapse geochemistry and production allocation that led to a better understanding of vertical drainage in wells. In turn, these insights have helped the Eagle Ford team optimize its well-stacking decisions. The data showed that adding additional layers of wells in the formation could help the company extract more hydrocarbons from the reservoir.

Optimization efforts in full swing

Across the Eagle Ford, fine-tuning is underway. New completion designs, refracks and gas injection-enhanced oil recovery are being tested and implemented. Jason is using geochemistry to address water-related questions, such as where water used during the completion process goes. He recently presented a paper at the Unconventional Resources Technology Conference that ties oil and water geochemistry together.

Jason outdoors with glacier in background
 Jason hiking at the Vatnajokull glacier in Iceland during a geology field trip. Although he initially entered Wayne State University on a premed track, he got hooked on geology after taking an intro class. “The geology department was offering a trip to the Grand Canyon,” he said. “I took it and fell in love with the canyon and the geology … I haven't really looked back since.”

Jason and his colleagues are working on optimizing the infilling process, which requires an understanding of the geology, vertical drainage and optimal completion, stacking and spacing designs. The push is on to find a solution for production losses that occur when new wells are drilled next to old ones. Such complex challenges require innovative solutions.

“We’ll continue to develop innovative tools and completion designs to meet future challenges,” he said. “We’ll figure out ways of mitigating infill development problems. And who knows what new technologies will be available; the team is doing a great job of looking at ways to reduce cost of supply and to maximize value.”

That’s why it’s good to have Jason Jweda on your team.