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Chevron's Amy Zeringue - How to optimise drilling with data

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Persuade drillers to change by appealing to their competitive nature; managing the number of software packages in use; develop low cost agile tools (perhaps in-house); and have people on staff with expertise in both oil and gas engineering and digital technology - some recommendations on how to optimise drilling with data, from Chevron's Amy Zeringue

By Amy Zeringue, manager of information technology, Chevron Global Drilling and Completion, and co-chair of the executive committee of SPE Intelligent Energy 2016

Start with the business problem

It's best - it's essential, actually - to start with a problem, described in business terms by the users who are experiencing it, and define the best way to address the business problem through a solution that incorporates improved or refined processes, information technologies (if applicable) and the right skills to enable the solution.

From a data perspective, the biggest error I've seen is that data management efforts are often pursued from a strictly IT point of view.

We capture and present copious amounts of data, often overwhelming the user with visualizations or dashboards that don't get to the heart of the business problem they're trying to solve.

Focusing in on a specific business process and breaking it down from the top - What information do I need to make this decision? What and where is the data that constitutes the required information? - is always the better method.

Persuading drillers to change

Process change may have traditionally been a challenge, but I think things might be changing as our practitioners become more technologically and data savvy and the desire for efficiencies drives the need for innovation.

In Chevron, we used drilling data and analytics tool to offer insights into rig and drilling performance that had been on the decline in one of our offshore business units.

The data and the tools we presented allowed our engineers and managers to be more efficient in having instant access to the insights they needed to gauge their performance.

We then used that analysis to identify trends, behaviours, and designs that had caused the decline, and then put in tools and processes that drastically changed how our teams were managed, how our rig contractors were rewarded, and how our operations were planned and executed.

The analysis drove our drilling department and our business partners to think and work differently. Eventually, the tool and data became secondary - the change was engrained in the teams.

Taking the example above, we were able to motivate our drilling personnel to change through a combination of factors.

First, we appealed to their competitive nature. We compared drilling performance trends across rig teams and made performance improvements visible.

Incentives helped too - things like performance awards and management recognition. Performance improvement is a key focus item for us - if process change through information technology is a means to that end and if management supports the change, it will happen.

Too much software

One challenge to new software adoption is that we have too much.

As a major operator, we have hundreds of software packages - large and small - resulting in redundancy and confusion.

Perhaps what's driving the fact that the industry is not 'taking advantage' of available software is that it's hard to justify additional investment in new tools when we have invested for years in multiple software packages and feel we haven't realized their full value proposition.

We have implemented centralized governance for our IT investment with Chevron's D&C department, looking for ways to leverage common tool sets across our organization in support of our key business processes.

This is really helping us streamline our software delivery and support and look for ways to reduce costs across the company.

More agile tools

Also, while the need for large scale, integrated engineering and geophysical application will persist, there is an opportunity for more agile development of tools that can meet specific business needs and offer great value.

We've had some recent successes here at Chevron with business intelligence and analytics solutions that were developed for a fraction of the cost of commercially available software- they solve a particular business challenge and have a rapid rate of delivery.

In today's world of on-demand apps, this approach offers a more immediate value realization vs. traditional major IT solution undertakings.

What is the role of analytics

[The role of analytics] goes back to the identifying and addressing a business problem that needs to be solved.

Investing in analytics for analytics sake without a value proposition or having IT departments shop around an analytics platform becomes perceived a solution looking for a problem. This is not the environment for that.

Experts should identify where analytics can offer the most benefit and pursue those with energy and focus. Business sponsorship is essential and subject matter expert involvement is also a key to success.

Who should make decisions about software?

As a petroleum engineering graduate in 1997, I started my career at a major oil and gas software provider, intentionally.

As an engineer, the support I provided was a hybrid- I had an in-depth knowledge of [both] the software and how and why it was being used.

One of my favorite mentors, Jim Crompton, co-wrote a book titled, 'The Future Belongs to the Digital Engineer'.

In it, he describes the evolution of a hybrid skill set, the Digital Engineer who is 'engineering-talented, information-technology-competent, and business-savvy'.

Our digital world is going to insist on alignment between traditional information technology teams and the business customers they serve, almost to the point where the two could eventually become indistinguishable.

Amy Zeringue is co-chair of the executive committee of the SPE Intelligent Energy 2016 conference, to be held for the first time in Aberdeen from 6-8 September 2016.

Associated Companies
» Chevron

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