Digitalization of Wells in the Egyptian Western Desert

by | Jun 27, 2024 | Event, Oil & Gas | 0 comments

Khaled Saleh, area director for Egypt, Sudan & Libya at Emerson, receives the award on behalf of Roman Jermalili, of Apache Corporation, for most innovative digital and business transformation application at the Emerson Exchange EMEA 2024.

At the Emerson Exchange EMEA 2024 in Düsseldorf, Roman Jermalili, digitalization automation manager at Apache Corporation, and Haitham Madian, director – strategic projects at Emerson, co-presented a digitalization project to transform oil and gas well operations in the Egyptian Western Desert. Apache, one of the largest oil producers in Egypt, and Khalda Petroleum Company (KPC), a joint venture between the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation and Apache, began the program in 2020, with the aim of achieving operational excellence through digital modernization.

The program is split into four stages. The first focuses on attaining real-time, transparent and authentic data from the deployment of intelligent field instrumentation and improved data delivery and management. Stage two looks at achieving greater asset visibility and optimized response times to abnormal events using surveillance technology and diagnostics. Stage three centers on intelligent operation through data-driven support systems. This requires the implementation of modeling and ‘what if’ analysis. The final stage requires optimization of processes and operations to achieve business transformation.

Jermalili and Madian explained that pragmatic digital transformation is achieved by following a simple, effective model, which includes:

  • Adopting innovative sensing technologies that are easy and cost-effective to install and maintain.
  • Implementing a set of architectures that ensure security of operational data and allow secure interaction with IT and cloud applications.
  • Deploying powerful analytics applications to deliver actionable insights, and enterprise-scalable data connectivity and contextualization.
  • Deploying new monitoring solutions, consulting, and implementation services to help ensure operational outcomes.


Clustering reduces CAPEX and simplifies maintenance with shared resources.


Wireless transmitters from Emerson were installed at the wellheads.

Project objectives

Specific projects and objectives were set out. These included the need for proper volume and basic sediment and water (BS&W) measurements at all tanks, early production facilities (EPFs) and truck offloading stations. Accurate, precise measurement and allocation of all production and processes across all fields was required. Shipping losses between fields and shipping terminals had to be minimized. They also wanted to reduce well deferments and allow well optimization to increase production. Finally, well allocation and production accounting had to be enhanced, with improved reserves estimates. To achieve this would require liquid measurement systems to be applied on all custody transfer and allocation tanks. New truck offloading systems would be needed for the EPFs. Plus, instrumentation and SCADA systems, integrated gas monitoring and automation systems, and a data gathering historian system would be required.

Wellhead automation

As part of the first phase, 100 wellheads were identified to be modernized. These wells had high electrical submersible pump (ESP) system turnover, inaccurate production allocation and reporting, high production deferment and high pump failure rate. The issues related to an absence of monitoring systems, fragmented systems and manual reporting processes. Well management needed to move from being a manual to an automated process. Monitoring and surveillance needed to be enhanced, optimization of artificial lift performed, and accurate well production accounting ensured.

It was decided to deploy WirelessHARTnetworks® at the wellheads. These are designed to provide reliability in challenging operating conditions, ensure very good interoperability and low hardware requirements, and enable devices to be added easily. After performing site assessments, operation process mapping, establishing logistical requirements, engineering design and procurement, site readiness and commissioning, wireless transmitters from Emerson were installed at the wellheads. A new SCADA system and IPOS provided the artificial lift controller interface. Long-range point-to-multipoint (PMP) links connected the main control center to the wellheads via a WirelessHART gateway. The gateway supports a cluster of wellheads, helping to reduce CAPEX and simplify maintenance.

The adopted solution provided some immediate benefits. Accurate reporting was now possible. There was now clear understanding of ESP well issues and the ability to identify the worst offenders. Operational processes could be enhanced. There is now greater focus on analysis, simulation base allocation, and the availability of more accurate well rate estimation.

Custody transfer

Performing custody transfer measurements is challenging as assets are distributed over a wide area. Export pipelines are shared between operating companies, so all export agreements are based on fiscal measurement of storage tanks using manual tank dipping. This is a very inefficient tank gauging process and the cause of discrepancies and losses of 4000 Bbls daily. Non-contacting and guided wave radar level transmitters from Emerson have been applied to 81 tanks. These provide extremely accurate and reliable measurements and reporting of export volumes, which has helped to reduce external losses by 50%. The custody transfer agreements have been changed to include the automated process. Jermalili and Haitham stated that this wasn’t just an OT modernization project. There was also OT and IT systems integration, with data visualization and integration with the PDMS system at enterprise level.

Program benefits

Jermalili and Haitham concluded by highlighting some of the key program benefits realized. These included enhanced operational oversight, a roadmap for sustainable operations, and projected savings and value creation of $12m annually.

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The opinions expressed here are the personal opinions of the authors. Content published here is not read or approved by Emerson before it is posted and does not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Emerson.

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