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‘Future is Digital’
- Anand Vishnubhotla, Business Head, Advanced Solutions, Honeywell Process Solutions India
Digital Oilfield users require the right mix of technology in accessing accurate and real-time reporting, system monitoring, audio and video collaboration tools and more reliable & safer operational systems in their upstream business to maintain a safe, robust and secure environment. In this paper, the digital oilfield management technology in helping well management and surveillance, and also ensure optimal production processes is outlined and one of the ongoing projects is used as the case study. The case study addresses the digital advantages in one of the biggest digital oilfield projects - Athena oilfield off the coast of Scotland - to help personnel spend less time gathering data and more time meeting the organisation’s operational objectives.

Information technology has been a key component of the upstream oil and gas business, however the upstream oil and gas industry is under continuing pressure to reduce costs, increase productivity and ensure efficient use of resources, particularly skilled human resources. To this end, companies have been focusing on core business activities, developing production capacity to match demand and using technology as a business enabler. There are, therefore, clear business drivers for better utilising IT to provide accurate and real-time reporting, system monitoring, audio and video collaboration tools and more reliable and safer operational systems in their upstream business.

As the oil industry becomes more reliant on technology to support key operations on the Digital Oilfield, there is a critical need to maintain a safe, robust and secure environment. With increased threats from unstable geopolitics, terrorism and environmentalism through to hackers, viruses and worms, the industry recognises that something proactive must be done to manage risks associated with confidentiality, integrity and availability of information systems, which are increasingly at the heart of their business.

Contrary to wishful thinking, it’s not simply a matter of building the infrastructure, installing equipment and flipping a switch to begin operating. Instead, new oilfields require the right combination of technology and planning at every step of the process. From start to finish, without adequate means to obtain critical information, the process can be long, cumbersome and ripe with the chance of error.

Case Study: Athena Oilfield
Ithaca Energy, the development and production company, realised this and took the necessary steps to minimise improvisation in the development of the Athena oilfield off the coast of Scotland. As the operator of the project, Ithaca Energy sought the latest monitoring technology available to help with well management and surveillance, and also ensure optimal production processes. To have a top-notch oilfield, Ithaca Energy needed to find the right mix of technology to help personnel spend less time gathering data and more time meeting the organisation’s operational objectives.

Ithaca Energy needed technology that would provide real-time insight into oilfield processes and performance to combat the uncertainty and inaccuracy that threatens new oilfields. In addition, new oilfields are frequently subjected to variations in well performance, artificial lift variables, topsides process conditions and other factors. These, in turn, can cause large fluctuations in total production. Also, process data obtained in these conditions is frequently subjected to flat-lines, drop-outs and errors that require cleansing for proper and accurate data processing.

Well rate estimations require calculations and correlations using accepted first-principle methods, and these must be adjusted and re - calibrated according to field conditions. These estimations must then be presented clearly and acc u rate ly to decision-makers — and in a format that allows them to consult with their peers and respond to situations in a timely manner.

Digital Advantages
The Athena oilfield required technology that would address these factors as much as possible while ensuring optimal production processes. Ithaca Energy found the answer to its requirements in digital oilfield management technology for the flexibility and control it offered. Central to achieving this was selection of well surveillance software from Honeywell — Well Performance Monitor (WPM) — which provides an easy-to-understand, real-time snapshot of key operations through one information hub, helping key personnel and decision-makers visualise the performance of the entire Athena oilfield.

For Ithaca Energy, choosing the WPM software was the first step in the process toward establishing a digital Athena oilfield. Just as critical: the implementation process, which entailed determining the proper approach, as well as the appropriate phases and structure of the system. Working with Honeywell, Ithaca Energy took a ver tical (from data sources to end-user visualisation) and phased approach to deployment, implementing an adequate amount of functionality at every automation/IT layer to achieve the business objectives, but allowing room for growth and adaptation based on potential new objectives and future levels of functionality.

From a timing perspective, the phased implementation also ensured Ithaca Energy would have a fully-tested system available upon first operation of the oilfield, eliminating costly uncer taint y and guesswork during the ramp-up period of the new field. It also left room for future growth and improvement.

Once the oilfield was up and running, the WPM system enabled Ithaca Energy’s engineers to monitor how the Athena wells performed compared to expectations. Ithaca Energy also selected an out-of-the-box module for Well Test Validation to complement WPM, further supporting the objective of establishing optimal well performance conditions.

Taking a three-phased approach, Ithaca Energy first established system requirements and developed a general design for the integrated system. At its core, the Athena oilfield development is based on electrical submersible pump (ESP) wells. Athena engineers sought to automate the well production test capture, analysis and validation process, so Ithaca Energy formed the project’s main objectives around the set of functions as applicable to ESP wells, and by modifying WPM’s Well Test Validation module, as required, in order to achieve those objectives.

Using the Well Test Validation module, production engineers were able to quickly calculate and re-calculate, as required, well test results based on stable process variable averages in order to easily capture valid well tests, even prior to creating the well test record. If the well test is deemed valid, the system executes a match with the well model and suggests potential adjustments to make to parameters, providing engineers with the level of detail necessary to accurately determine which parameters actually require adjustments.

In addition, visual models help predict what each well is capable of producing. The WPM technology extracts summary information and key performance indicators from real-time process data historians, production databases and engineering well models, allowing operators to visualise field performance data and manage equipment assets. This presents a picture of where shortfalls in production are occurring so engineers can take immediate steps to correct them, and maximise the production potential of each well. WPM also helps personnel manage costs associated with surveillance by enabling engineers to identify abnormal situations quickly and react faster to disturbances.

Fine-Tuned Performance
The second stage of implementation entails deploying the software in a simulated environment, which is enabling operations managers to test the system, train personnel and fine-tune processes so that they can be as fully operational as possible when the wells begin to produce. This is especially critical due to the fact that the oilfield is being developed concurrently. Conclusion
Well Performance Monitors are easily deployable and versatile solutions for intelligent field and well surveillance with a proven successful install base for a growing list of customers. Built on open and secure industry standards, the solution is control-system vendor neutral, with existing installs integrating numerous data sources in a wide variety of geographical locations. It has demonstrated scalability and versatility, as it is used to integrate remote facilities with low well counts to multiple field operations with hundreds of wells.

Well Performance Monitors allows rapid deployment and immediate return on investment through an out of the box intuitive interface that presents prioritised views of total field and individual well performance, whilst retaining the ability to meet specific customer needs.