More from the 2015 SPE Digital Energy at The Woodlands

Cisco - ‘fog computing’ at the edge. Shell/OptaSense on the world’s first permanent in-well fiber acoustic sensing. Chevron on governance of the upstream workflow transformation.

We’ve said it before but the SPE Digital Energy is a firehose of upstream IT news for us. Hence this overflow section. Rik Irons-McLean (Cisco) presented a new paradigm-cum-buzzword as in ‘fog’ computing—number crunching at the foggy if not cloudy ‘edge.’ You still don’t get it. Never mind, this is Cisco’s answer to the challenge of centralized cloud computing and involves ‘distributed intelligence’ and pushing data decisions to the remote edge of the enterprise.

A veiled reference was made to a Chevron pilot of analytics done at the wellhead ‘edge’ for stuff like artificial lift optimization, digital acoustic sensor data management and ‘virtual’ control of drilling automation. Smart ‘internet of things’-type devices analyze and act ‘at the edge.’ Data then flows up to fog nodes and is stored in the cloud. Nodes combine operations and IT in a single device and can talk to each other in ‘east-west’ as opposed to ‘north-south’ flow from device to cloud. GE, Rockwell, Schneider and OsiSoft were acknowledged in the presentation. More from Cisco.

Speaking of DAS, a Shell/OptaSense presentation unveiled the ‘world’s first’ permanent DAS in-well production monitoring system installed in a tight gas well in northern British Columbia. DAS provides an economical means of monitoring temperature and noise in a flowing well and monitoring perforations for build-up, shut in, slugging, failed start-ups post frac. The broadband system operated from DC to 10khz. Different frequency bands show liquid uploading and crossflow effects. Mid range frequencies show which inflow valves are flowing and high frequencies show gas lift valves’ operation. DAS generates massive amounts (1TB/day) of data and the IT stack looks for all the world like Cisco’s ‘fog’ with a local rack doing pre-processing before upload of highly compressed summary data to the cloud over a 3G modem.

Birlie Bourgeois gave an update on Chevron’s smart fields/upstream workflow transformation (UWT) program. This has evolved from the earlier i-Field program and is now focusing on governance across 15 different business units. UWT is treated like any other capital project. Its components (IT standards, skills and functional workflows) are evaluated across R&D, universities and elsewhere in industry. Components are filtered on cost and impact and then developed for enterprise roll out. Bourgeois observed that ‘deployment does not mean success.’ The idea is to retire competing, one-off legacy solutions, to ‘create excitement’ and to prioritize ‘off the shelf’ over ‘built from scratch.’ Chevron is also seeking a balance between a common solution and innovations from the business unit. For complex cross discipline projects such as waterflood optimization, ‘you need co-ownership with (only) one champion.’ ‘If everyone owns it then no one owns it.’ In fact the UWT is a temporary part of the equation. Once a solution is installed it is handed over to the function as a reservoir management project. More from Digital Energy at the SPE.

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