The petroleum industry offers a broad spectrum of problems that falls within the domain of expertise of mechanical engineers. These problems range from the design of well production equipment to the evaluation of formation responses to production and stimulation. This paper briefly describes various aspects and related difficulties with which the oil industry has to deal, from the time the well is spudded until the field is abandoned. It attempts to delineate the problems, to outline the approaches presently used, and to discuss areas where additional research is needed. Areas of current research activity also are described; whenever appropriate, typical or pertinent case histories are used to illustrate a point.

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