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BP's real time information systems for wells, operations and production

Thursday, August 7, 2014

BP's Field of the Future project is building real-time information systems which can keep staff advised on the status of wells, operations and production.

BP's Field of the Future project is developing online real-time advisory systems covering wells, operations and production to help provide employees with advice about current operations.

The tools give people insights into what is happening or about to happen, and provide information to help them solve problems and optimise operations. The systems are web based, functioning as information dashboards and advisor systems. BP hosts the services from its own data centres.

The Field of the Future team is one of 10 programs in BP's 'Upstream Technology' organisation. There are around 30 core people in the team, based in Sunbury, Houston and Aberdeen, plus approximately 50 people from IT and many different contractors. It works closely with business champions in different functional disciplines in the company.

The 'Well Advisor' tool covers safe and reliable drilling of wells, and is significantly reducing the number of stuck pipe incidents. This was developed together with Kongsberg. The team are also looking at monitoring well integrity for the lifetime of the well.

Steve Roberts, head of BP's Field of the Future project said: 'The wells department of BP is now deploying the Well Advisor system to regions around the company.'

The 'Operations Advisor' tool provides information about the reliability and availability of equipment. It aims to give predictive advice on when maintenance tasks are likely to be required in the future, in a similar way to how a cars computer system can advise you when the brake pads are likely to need changing.

The 'Production Advisor' tool gives advice to help optimise production. It connects data from the various subsurface systems. You can optimise short term and long term, and optimise across several assets at once.

Future proofing
The systems are being designed to cope with expected growth in data streams and development in technology but also to take advantage of ever increasing computing capability.

The data streams from wells, operations and production are increasing all the time, and so advisory systems like these need to be able to keep up.

Mr Roberts added: 'Computer capacity is continuing to grow, yet it always seems to be possible to find a use to whatever high performance computer capacity is available.

'The Field of the Future team is trying to work out what is the best way to build systems so they can make the most out of future technology upgrades. I think we will succeed in implementing what we see today, but we will be locked into these and then fight another battle upgrading.

'There are various 'coping strategies' which might be adopted to help deal with rapid changes in technology. You can standardise technologies across the company, leading to fewer unique systems so that the upgrade task is simpler.

'You can also run more technology centrally, so it is easier to upgrade everything at once, however this can make you more vulnerable if there is a problem in the centre.'

An approach Mr Roberts describes as 'agnostic' is to be as independent as possible to digital technology hardware and software in order to avoid being 'locked in' and having a large 'switching barrier'.

Caution is needed where you have 'intelligent' systems running, as remote systems can be harder to upgrade. During space missions, for example, scientists decide how much 'intelligence' should be on the spacecraft and how much at home. They can decide how much work to automate and take out of human control. They can also decide how much to simplify the business, particularly in the areas where different disciplinary groups have to work together.

Getting more out of data
Meanwhile, BP would like to find ways to get more out of the data it already has. 'We're all struggling with where and how long do we store it for, but also how we get more from it,' Mr Roberts said.

BP is aiming to cultivate people with skills to 'engineer data' - it is starting to look at the discipline of 'data science'; people trained in a classical way to work with data.

A data scientist is different to a data manager, as Mr Roberts clarified: 'A data scientist can pull insights from data by knowing how to combine different types of information, engineer data flows and combination, understand the broad spectrum of analytic techniques, and is skilled in gaining insight that is useful to the business.'



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