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BP - streamlining the screens

Friday, July 27, 2012

A major focus for BP's 'Field of the Future' project is providing more integrated information and reducing the number of screens people have to look at, says Steve Roberts, VP of BP's 'Field of the Future' program

It is becoming common to hear people say, 'don't give me another screen, instead give me integrated information,' says Steve Roberts, VP of BP's 'Field of the Future' program, speaking at the Intelligent Energy conference in the Netherlands earlier this year.

Perhaps too often, when people need more information, the solution has been to give them another computer screen or window to monitor.

But there is a limit to how many screens people can manage.

The airline industry has managed to carefully synthesise a wide range of data and information for pilots onto a relatively small footprint of screen, Mr Roberts said.

'That's the journey we are on.'

'We can synthesize [all the information] into screens of rich information that shows you what you need to know when you need to know.'

One model for doing this is an online banking system. When you log on to your bank you can see only information which you need to know, taken out of the bank's complex IT systems which have all customers' account data together.

Field of the Future

The Field of the Future program aims to help improve production, and improve performance of production equipment, by providing digital technologies to help petroleum engineers.

BP has separate projects looking after exploration (including managing seismic data).

In 2005 BP set a target of adding 100,000 barrels of oil per day by the year 2017 through its Field of the Future Program, and by the end of 2011 it had achieved 73,000 bopd.

All of the figures have been signed off by the managers of the asset, to confirm that they agree that Field of the Future program caused the production increase, Mr Roberts says.

There have been 400 examples documented at BP about how production has been improved as a result of these technologies.

80 per cent of the technology in Field of the Future concept is bought off the shelf, but the challenge is to use it consistently, he said.

The other 20 per cent needs to be developed specially, including sensors and algorithms. BP works with several university maths departments to develop its algorithms, and employs statisticians with PhDs in modelling.

This work gets more important as data sizes get larger.

It has wired up 80 per cent of the company's 'most significant wells', providing information to experts anywhere in the world.

One area of attention is improving flow issues - faster well start-up to stable flow, management of sanding, controlling slugs, and removing bottlenecks. The Field of the Future team developed 14 solutions which are deployed in 8 of its key regions, covering 80 per cent of its high value wells.

Collaborative working

With a team of different experts monitoring the asset, you can make sure it is being fully monitored and getting extra attention where it is required.

'Collaboration is at the heart of this, bringing the right experts together in a collaborative way, so they can interact around a common set of data,' he said. 'The world of the past is people in their siloed environments.'

'We encourage a culture in BP around debate around information and interpretation of that,' he said. 'We try to create systems better.'

There are 35 'Advanced Collaborative Environments', across Upstream assets but in Houston and Sunbury (UK)'We're developing 2 centres where we can access information from anywhere in the world, so our scare experts can sit in these centres and provide advice,' he said.

Data standards

Common data standards are very important in helping gather data, put it together, share it and bring it to experts, he says.

'We still need stricter data management standards, for example making sure everybody uses the same name for a well.'

Steve Roberts is vice chair of the Board of Energistics, the oil and gas data exchange standards organisation. 'BP is fully behind the need for standard data exchange,' he says. 'We're fully supportive of standards bodies like Energistics.'

BP is a firm supporter in the production data exchange standard PRODML, and believes that a data standard will be much more important the more complex the field and production arrangement is.

'We don't operate every field we have an interest in,' he says. 'Everyone wants access to the information to help make their own decisions. A standard like PRODML will help facilitate that.'


Analytics is an important part of the field of the future project, converting data into something which can be worked with.

There are analytics systems for facilities monitoring, including valves, chokes, pipelines, corrosion management, safety valves, equipment, predictive maintenance.

Analytics tools can alert the facilities engineers to the equipment they should be paying the most attention to.

There are analytics for drilling. 'We have a well advisor system under development,' he said. It can help manage 'hole control' issues and avoid stuck pipe.

There can be automatic 'alert an expert' systems.

Doing this requires continuous WITSML data feeds on every drilling rig.


An interesting question is what current graduates expect from their working environment at a company like BP.

Mr Roberts says he spends a lot of time asking graduates what they expect a working environment at a company like BP to be like.

Graduates say they do expect to come into an office. 'They want to come together and meet and collaborate,' he said.

Many of them expect touch screens built into tables. 'They want to press the desk and the information comes up,' he says.

They don't expect to have to carry laptops, and they don't expect to do their work on social media, he says.

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