SPE Intelligent Energy, Amsterdam

The Society of Petroleum Engineers/Reed Expo ‘Intelligent Energy’ conference was a popular event. A high tech scene setter event included live hook-ups to ‘digital oilfields’ around the world. We report on presentations from BP’s Field of the Future project, Petrobras’ geDig, Saudi Aramco’s ‘Intelligent Fields’ and smart wells and Semantic Web work on Chevron’s i-Field.

The SPE/Reed Exhibitions Intelligent Energy conference in Amsterdam proved very successful with a reported 1500 attendees from 47 countries. A ‘scene setter’ session co–chaired by Satish Pai (Schlumberger) and Sjur Bjarte Talstad (StatoilHydro) provided a snazzy introduction with live hooks-ups to remote locations from Aberdeen to Azerbaijan. Pai noted advances in technology for high performance computing (HPC), visualization and data storage—but cautioned that good data management was essential to support the technology and decision making.


A live link to Baku showcased BP’s ‘Advanced Collaboration Environment’ (ACE) and the ‘Field of the Future’ (FotF). ACE’s live video helps to build relationships between field personnel and head office. The FotF tool kit is leveraged to maximize production and minimize down time. Pan over to Shell’s Groningen mature gas giant where the 40 year old field is expected to see a further 50 years of production thanks to gas compression and high-end monitoring. 25 years ago there were 50 people working on the field now there are only 4.


StatoilHydro showed off the Sleipner field which doubles as a CO2 sequestration facility. Here, offshore personnel head count is kept to a minimum with remote support from the onshore operations center. The Schlumberger real time center provides voice, chat, desktop sharing on 20 workstations and four large visionarium screens.


Petrobras’ ‘GeDig’ collaborative decision environment has been deployed on the Carapela ‘digital oilfield’ (DO). Petrobras sees the DO concept as a solution to the production surveillance problem of being overwhelmed by real time data volumes. The DO is used to identify and diagnose problems as they occur and for ‘proactive’ monitoring of electric submersible pumping (ESP). Pai remarked that digital technology was making the world smaller.


Amin Nasser reported that Saudi Aramco’s average recovery factor is 50% which is expected to increase to 70 % over the next 20 years. Aramco’s ‘Intelligent Fields’ use surface and subsurface sensor data to continuously update Earth models. Nasser showed animation of real time pressure data and smart well technology used to minimize water cut. All of Aramco’s new fields are intelligent—with remote adjustable chokes, driver pumps and smart completions. The work environment is changing—with real time monitoring, decisions have to be made jointly and quickly.

Nano robots

Nasser’s vision for the future is one of wells with up to 50 laterals and, more controversially with ‘nano robots,’ autonomous micro machines that go forth into the reservoir pores to map tortuosity, to deliver chemicals to targeted zones or to collect fluid properties. The robots go in one well and pop up in adjacent wells. Nasser did not say whether the robots are currently being produced in a manufacturing facility or in the fertile minds of Aramco’s engineers.


Jane Shyeh’s paper (ExxonMobil) on ‘right time decisions’ provided some context for those who wrongly equate ‘digital’ with ‘new.’ Exxon’s first Computerized Production Control system was implemented on its US assets in 1967! Today reservoir management leverages modeling and downhole control valves, electronic flow meters and Bayesian networks for adverse event detection. These techniques have allowed well work to be identified and effected up to two months earlier than before. Production has increased thanks to ‘active’ monitoring—chokes are aggressively managed and large number of wells monitored per engineer.


Schlumberger CEO Andrew Gould cautioned that although the concept of real time optimization has been around for a decade or so, along with the expectation that recovery rates would be boosted, this has not really happened. Gould’s crystal ball sees more smart stuff like intelligent completions but also ‘arthroscopic’ drilling leveraging real time monitoring and knee surgery-like techniques. Instrumentation is likewise developing into a ‘high value area.’ A questioner from the aerospace vertical asked about the industry’s reliance on software and collaboration. Gould replied that the common data model is now capable of supporting a more collaborative environment but queried, ‘Do we have an industry wide collaborative attitude? I doubt it, it will be a long time before we get there. This is a more competitive industry with far more players [than aerospace].’


David Feineman described BP’s ‘Field of the Future’ (FotF) program—a portmanteau concept that covers a multiplicity of BP initiatives. One such program is the integrated surveillance information system (ISIS). ISIS supplies real time sensor data from BP fields, delivering well performance data to remote offices. Feineman noted that BP’s staff productivity has risen by 25% but added enigmatically that ‘less experienced staff are less resistant to change.’ Dave Overton’s paper revealed that ISIS is now operational on 20 fields around the world providing event detection and notification, data visualization of well schematics, flowlines separators and trends. Bryn Stenhouse’s presentation on modeling and optimization in BP E&P described work in progress on optimization—a.k.a. ‘model-based decision making.’ Tests on the Prudhoe Bay super giant with several thousand wells were successful in tuning the model but the optimization advice was not acted upon.


Chevron has set up an educational program at the University of Southern California where professor Amol Bakshi is investigating applications of the W3C’s ‘semantic web’ technology to the ‘i-Field.’ SemWeb techniques (as leveraged in the ISO 15926 program—see page 11 of this issue) promise synchronization across data sets and a standard way of deploying machine readable taxonomies. Chevron is an early adopter of the technology with its Generic Modeling Environment and with other R&D work at the Norwegian EPSIS R&D center.

This article is taken from a longer report produced as part of The Data Room’s subscription-based Technology Watch Service. More from www.oilit.com/tech.

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