What is the best solution for digitalizing in the drilling and wells sector?

23 March 2018 by Gilbert Haydamous
Performance improvement solutions that minimize non-productive time and invisible lost time maximize the benefits and value of on- and offshore operations.

Over the last years, more and more companies in the oil and gas sector have worked towards transforming their operations to new concepts. To this purpose, they have adopted new technologies such as advanced analytics and prediction models. These technologies improve the onshore support centers, leading to the development of sophisticated software solutions for offshore as well as onshore use.

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However, despite these new technologies, we still see a gap between onshore support and offshore operations. The greatest challenges are the exponential growth of data captured at the wellsite and the complexity of the operation on the rig.

Offshore operations take place in a challenging and critical environment where multiple companies and parties integrate their solutions to run an operation. The environments rely on critical operations and require a rapid response time. Onshore support centers, on the other hand, are based on historical and real-time data transmitted from the wellsite to an onshore center where decision support, analytics, and advisory systems reside. These environments utilize sophisticated modules to analyze the data and support the operation.

In addition, offshore communications and data transmission have limitations that create a threshold. This has become more obvious with increased data volumes.

Purposeful innovation can bridge information technology with operation technology

I am certain that the drilling and wells domain will benefit from emerging technologies. Breakthrough solutions are already showing good results, and the most promising technologies could bring advisory systems generated onshore straight to offshore operations.

A digital infrastructure and a digital platform create a data hub layer for data connection and storing. This is achieved through the standard OPC UA communication protocol in combination with the WITSML standard for drilling and wells data. With advanced digital platforms, software modules can be developed to create integrated solutions that form a situation awareness environment. Such an environment supports high level SCADA supervisory systems offshore and operation centers onshore. The software modules and solutions encompass data processing, analysis, and visualization.

Based on previously developed software modules, supervisory SCADA systems can provide relevant operational and advisory controls for real-time drilling operations and rig automation offshore. To do this, the supervisory SCADA systems must integrate and interact with lower level SCADA systems that are available on the rigs. To a certain extent, the enabler could be technologies such as new data transfer protocols. The ETP data transfer protocol, for instance, transmits data significantly faster than previous protocols.
Supervisory SCADA systems also play a key role in supporting multiple drilling operations. Physical models as well as data-driven approaches provide advisory and real-time decision support for multiple assets.

A situation awareness environment supports decision making and automated drilling

When advisory and decision-support systems developed onshore are tied up to real-time operations they provide a situation awareness environment for decision making and automated drilling. With digitalization of the well plan, digital procedures combined with advisory systems, guidelines, parameters, risks, and limitations can be the steering and main drivers of the operations.

Advanced monitoring, measurements, and smart algorithms guide and instruct the operators and improve their understanding of downhole conditions, including operational limits and thresholds based on real-time conditions and corrective actions. The algorithms are built to achieve targets such as minimizing non-productive time and invisible lost time.

Prescriptive modules can then be conveyed from supervisory to SCADA field levels for drilling automation and control. This enables autonomous operations that provide analyzed data, KPIs, and targets to the rig operation. The outcome is that equipment can execute digital operations based on targets, risks, and digital operational procedures.

Real-time onshore centers and offshore drilling processes provides proven values and concepts to drilling operations.

The use of performance improvement solutions that address non-productive time and invisible lost time is not limited to onshore operation support. It also maximizes the benefits and value of offshore rig operations.

According to research and studies by McKinsey, Rystad Energy, and KonKraft, the estimated impact of performance solutions for well construction offshore is a reduction in capital expenditures (CAPEX) of 10 to 30 percent and 25 percent on operational expenditures (OPEX). Well process digitization linked to offshore automation assumes a reduction of 10 to 20 percent in offshore personnel and a CAPEX reduction of 5 to 7 percent according to surveys carried out by Digital McKinsey.

In short, the economic potential associated with digitalization is significant at all levels and segments of the value chain.

About the writer
Gilbert Haydamous
Gilbert Haydamous is vice president for Drilling and Wells in Kongsberg Digital where he leads value creation for customers of our energy division and explores opportunities to leverage leading technologies to the benefit of customers across industries. He holds a bachelor of science in electronics and electrical engineering and a master of science in general systems control from the University of Balamand. Gilbert has previously worked as a product manager and systems engineer for integrated control systems and offshore software products at National Oilwell Varco.