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Thu 18 Mar 2010 04:00 AM

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Oil field of the future

Reaping the benefits of the digital oil field requires a step change in thinking, but the rewards are colossal.

Oil field of the future
Phil Camp.
Oil field of the future
Companies need to consider how they can use the myriad of data being generated to make better decisions.

 

Reaping the benefits of the digital oil field requires a step change in thinking, but the rewards are colossal.

 

Ahead of this month’s hotly anticipated International Digital Oil Field Conference Oil & Gas Middle East met with SAIC’s AVP, business integration services, Phil Camp in Abu Dhabi.

 

SAIC’s key offerings in the realm of the digital oil field include reservoir management, hydrocarbon accounting, post-drilling seismic analysis, field engineering services, collaboration environments, and real-time data management. SAIC is the programme manager for digital oilfield activity for companies such as Shell, Chevron, BP, Marathon, Total, and have engagements with regional companies such as ADCO, Qatar Petroleum , Saudi Aramco and PDO.

 

How can upstream companies harness the data they are capable of collecting into something beneficial?

 

Upstream companies in general have initiated strategic programmes over the past 10 years to automate the process of data collecting through the implementation of corporate wide programmes, so it is essential to have a solid data management strategy in place, especially for real-time data which enables so much of the advanced optimisation processes associated with DOF/IO. Operators should have data quality programmes in addition to a comprehensive Master Data Management strategy in place. Scope should include data types that complement the disciplines included in a DOF/IO approach (i.e. drilling, production operations, facilities, etc.).

 

The main sources of typical data bloat are the real-time data sources and unstructured (bulk) data like seismic data. Once you have a good handle on your data management strategy you can worry about how to turn that data into useful, actionable information. This could be the typical progression of surveillance to visualisation to optimisation, particularly around drilling and production data. Having a good set of business intelligence and visualisation tools are important in accomplishing this goal. Finally, companies need to consider how they can use the myriad of data being generated to make better decisions and streamline decision making processes. This is the goal that operators should keep in mind. The goal is not enough to have pristine data – the goal is to make better, more timely decisions, especially when high quality, timely data/information is now made available. Once data is in place it is possible to provide a correlation between operational field data and business value, converting traditional data points as flow, pressure and GOR into quantifiable fiscal measures that then allows for the incorporation of workflows tied directly to operational and business processes.

 

Are there business value creation opportunities?

 

In a commodity business like hydrocarbon extraction the areas of value creation are very predictable. Since it is impossible to compete on quality or product differentiation, until you get to the refining and marketing domain, you must reduce cost of production and/or produce more hydrocarbons from the same reservoir (or at least the same amount of hydrocarbons in a shorter time).
Production increases have been attributed to initiatives such as intelligent completions, real-time drilling, automation and control enhancements and integration of operations.

 

Is DOF going to change the oil & gas industry?

 

It is important to remember that DOF/IO are industry terms that were invented to describe what should be happening anyway – that is the transformation of upstream into a more predictable, controllable and optimised production stream. In our opinion the thing that will truly change the upstream oil and gas industry is willingness to rethink our operations methods and adopt more of a manufacturing mentality. This requires the willingness to integrate critical processes into a cross-functional, cross-discipline way of thinking complete with real-time feedback loops and forward modeling of likely scenarios. Regardless of what term is applied to the approach we believe that it is this fundamental shift in thinking that will achieve transformation. What we also believe is that the industry is finally recognising the importance of capturing operational data and leveraging technology to make better use of that data, to positively impact operations and further automate operational workflows. Where the most radical change is going to take place with the embrace of these processes and technologies, is that we are going to witness geographical and demographical boundaries begin to break down. As many are aware, the single greatest risk to the industry is a supply of trained engineers to efficiently operate these assets and generate returns on the massive capital investment to bring new production on board. The revitalisation of operational workflows and processes through technology will allow for companies to do “more with less” and mitigate the risk of having resources available to operate across the globe.

 

What are the most significant developments?

 

There are a number of significant developments that are starting to find their way into the DOF/IO arena. One of the most significant is that operators are now able to design and deliver fully integrated processes from the outset rather than experimenting in a variety of domains and then attempting to integrate as an afterthought. Another significant development is the increasing realisation that the support models for DOF/IO solutions should be process oriented rather than application driven due to the integrated nature of DOF/IO solutions. In addition to these new models for design, delivery and support, there are also some new applications of technology that will enable additional transformational process change.

 

One of the most significant technology focused areas is the ability to integrate production (fast loop) models with reservoir (slow loop) models with real-time feedback loops in order to develop more complete models of an asset that can be used for full asset optimisation. The beauty of these solutions is that they provide a “capstone” for all the foundational components that a company has invested in their overall digital oilfield programme. Beyond field operations a company can perform analysis to begin and explore new capital investments, their impact to the asset as well as have a better view into the business value tied to divestments and acquisitions.

 

How would you describe Middle East appetite for DOF?

 

We are certainly seeing a determination in the region for companies to engage in or refine their DOF/IO strategies. The focus is different in different companies. Which approach to adopt? How do I go about “doing” DOF? What are the key elements that need to be addressed? What will deliver the most value? How can I avoid getting left behind, and how can I get ahead? In spite of the documented successes, not all companies in the region have yet formulated their DOF strategy or benchmarked where they are only the curve.

 

However, SAIC is seeing an increase of opportunities providing assessments designed to help an organisation understand how DOF could help, and how to launch and deliver a DOF project. Our approach is through a proven methodology that looks at the key issues faced by an asset. and generates a series of recommendations on how DOF could help the asset, particularly with relation to the key issues. SAIC uses its blend of upstream and solutions expertise to really focus on key asset issues while remaining impartial to product solutions.

 

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