At CERAWeek 2016, a panel of experts steeped in the upstream oil business shared their ideas for improving efficiency of existing facilities, well pads and offshore platforms. The panel was chaired by IHS’s Paul Markwell and included Emerson’s David Tredinnick along with senior leadership for oil and gas owner/operators and service providers.
David opened the panel reminding the attendees of the notion of “Peak Oil” that was prevalent several years ago. In current times, the supply and demand imbalance and low prices make the idea seem quaint.
Over the last several years, with the advancement of shale oil production in the United States, the ways projects were executed changed to accommodate newer technologies such as wireless instrumentation to improve project schedules. Another innovation has been to provide remote access to these production sites with experts assembled in collaboration centers to optimize production and spot problems before they lead to unplanned downtime.
One of the owner-operator senior executives next took the podium to share three themes around brownfield developments. He noted that the majority of their assets are brownfield production sites. They have a long history of working with these facilities. Over the past couple of decades, technology and practices have improved recovery rates for the oil production fields by 50%.
Three infrastructure investments are critical—reliability and integrity, production optimization and lifecycle management of the reservoir, wells and production facilities. This focus extends the life of the field and the efficiency of the field. The result is growing the company as if you were drilling and adding more production. They developed model-based optimization across the production sites with the goal to improve production rates 2-4%.
Another oil and gas operator senior executive shared experiences from one of their massive producing basins, which has been in service 30-40 years with thousands of producing wells. The basin covers a vast land area and requires extensive “windshield time” for maintenance and operations personnel to manage. The focus was to use existing systems to find ways to optimize and bring greater returns in the limited capital expenditure environment given low oil prices. Each investment must generate a return within 12-18 months.
Their goal is to capture lost production, decrease unplanned downtime, reduce windshield time and reduce overall costs of production. The problem is not the data; the problem is too much data without the analysis and recommendations for action. Work is ongoing to build analytic models that reference the optimal production profile for a particular site. Current production rates are compared against the model. Notifications of excursions are sent to operating personnel to address these variations.
More investments are being done in collaboration suites where experts can analyze these analytics to provide guidance on plans to address the situation.
The oil services provider senior executive addressed where key technology investments are being made. A simulation model of the reservoir is a key focus. It incorporates a wealth of data from seismic information, well tests, and production information. Measurement and control technology is important downhole at the interface between the producing sandface and the well. These measurements include pressure, temperature, water cuts and more. It opens up the ability to run real-time reservoir simulators.
This enables digitalization beyond the production equipment all the way to the reservoir to provide greater optimization opportunities to maximize the production of the wells and extend the life of the reservoir.
These perspectives demonstrate that the advancements of the digital oil field are ongoing and the focus to improve efficiency rather than “hunker down” can be an effective path to navigate through this current low oil price environment.
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