Last year, Oil IT Journal visited GE Oil & Gas’ Nailsea, UK-based ‘Smart Center’, a mini operations control room for conducting remote monitoring and diagnostics of subsea equipment. A typical Smart Center operation might involve a remote desktop connection to a device located half way around the world, along with a voice link to talk an on-the-spot engineer through commissioning or testing.
The Smart Center can also act as a large scale system emulator, leveraging GE’s ‘Mimic’ process simulation package, acting as an offline scenario emulator or in a risk avoidance mode for testing new software before rolling out in the field.
Today the Smart Center’s focus is for ‘occasional’ use in specific scenarios, but the plan is to work towards more real time production optimization, rolling-in software from SPT Group (Oil ITJ May 2009) and research in artificial intelligence underway at GE’s Shanghai Center.
We asked if the Smart Center might ‘compete’ with the majors’ internal operations centers. GE acknowledges that the Smart Center may not suit all. But the system is perfect for independents faced with immediate issues such as slug monitoring and hydrate build-up. As more compressors, booster technology and separation is happening on the seabed, remote monitoring is a given.
Today such systems are optimized manually, but this means staying well away from the envelope. As refinery optimization has demonstrated, automation allows operations nearer to the margin. One fact. should make the potential clear—currently, a single high end device can stream around 20,000 data points, but typically, the operator only looks at half a dozen. Most Smart Center interest comes from remote assets. It is Baku or the Bass Straight rather than Aberdeen. More from ge.com/oilandgas.
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