Shell’s FieldWare—now you see it, now you don’t!

A ‘people shortage’ is compromising commercialization of Shell’s well surveillance package.

Shell’s FieldWare Production Universe (FW) real time well surveillance was a key enabler of Shell’s flagship e-field development, Champion West, in Brunei. Oil IT Journal spoke to Shell Global Solutions’ Ron Cramer and Jennifer Duhon about FieldWare which was promoted by Shell last year as a commercial offering.


Ron Cramer believes that the oil industry is a conservative business that has been slow to adopt digital oilfield and ‘smart’ field techniques, although Shell has been interested in the concept for 30 years or so. FW is a suite of applications, much of which are commissioned or bought in and configured from commercial ‘commodity packages. ‘Shell is an oil company, not a software developer.’ FW’s scope is huge—the product’s strap line is, ‘from well bore to point of sale.’

Well test

One critical FW application is in emulating costly multi phase flow meters. At a cost of around $200k installed, these are not really an option for a 1,000 well field. Moreover such equipment requires considerable tender loving care (TLC), something the oil industry is not good at! The normal industry work around is the monthly well test. But this assumes that things stay the same in between tests. As Cramer points out, ‘We know this is not true. Things happen when we aren’t looking at the well. But instead we plug rubbish into the hydrocarbon accounting system because we can’t monitor the system continuously’. For Shell, this was identified as a serious barrier to e-field enablement—as well as a serious reporting problem. ‘You can’t manage what you can’t measure.’ FW works by monitoring available data such as well head pressure and performing real time mathematical modeling to figure out what the well is doing. FW’s ‘data driven’ models are calibrated with a special type of well test. Well behavior is then obtained by continuous measurement from SCADA systems. Cramer concluded that 2006 would be ‘prime time’ for FW. But there is a twist to the story.


Duhon explained that Shell Global Solutions (SGS), the technology/R&D engineering branch of Shell, FW as a commercial opportunity that could be sold outside of Shell. Hence the putative commercialization of FieldWare last year. Subsequently, in a booming oil services market, SGS is suffering the same ‘people shortage’ as other service companies, leading to a re-evaluation of Shell’s position regarding Field Ware’s commercialization.

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