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Digitalising a Middle East oilfield

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Intech Process Automation told the story of its project with a Middle East oil company to digitally transform one of its oilfields, at a Emerson user conference.

Huseyn Tarek, VP Middle East and Africa, Intech Process Automation, presented a case study of a digital oilfield project with an (unnamed) Middle East oil company, He was speaking at the Emerson Users Exchange meeting online on March 29-31.

In 2016, Emerson and Intech, as its 'channel partner', were chosen to carry out a project digitalising wellheads and well / tree valves (Christmas trees), providing real time data communication, on sites around the territory.

The project had to meet specific requirements for reliability and proven availability, and a design life of 25 years.

The systems needed to have capability for remote operations, with assets monitored from a central location and minimal local intervention required. The central location would also need data to support analysis and decisions.

The wells needed capability to be shut down remotely in the event of an emergency.

Systems were to be implemented on 200 wells, both existing and new. Some had no power or water infrastructure. There was a lack of detailed engineering information.

The devices would need solar power, and transmit wirelessly.

A second objective was to achieve integrated production operations management. 'A fully functional SCADA was required,' he said.

For predictive analytics, as well as just data from the well, you would need surveillance tools, data management processes, visualisation tools, and automation of workflow for tasks.

System developed

The system developed has sensors on the well head, connected to a well head control panel, with all data then transmitted wirelessly.

The well site equipment includes Emerson's PSD (Process Shut Down) and (RTU) Remote Terminal Unit systems.

There was triple redundancy in the controllers.

All input-output devices have monitoring capability, so you can see if they are working or not.

The Remote Terminal Unit gathers data from the instruments, and prepares it for transmission to the central processing facility. It also controls the choke valves and works with devices to monitor the integrity of the well.

'This all did not come that easy actually,' he said.

The Christmas trees and downhole valves are controlled by hydraulics.

Six processing facilities were connected to a central integrated operations centre, with a video wall, providing an overview of the field. You can drill down to see data from individual sensors.

'We learned that preparedness at the time of installation and commissioning was (key) to increase speed of the project and to overcome challenges,' he said.

The project ran over five years. The design needed to be continuously improved while the fabrication was taking place.

The equipment was built on a skid, so it could be put together in a warehouse and transported to the well site fully built. This reduced the onsite installation and commissioning time by around 50 per cent.

Advances over the past 10 years mean it is possible to implement the whole system in one go, rather than in bits and pieces, he said.

The communication system, using WiMAX protocol, could be tested before delivery.

Emerson's CPE400 controller was used for the data connectivity.

'Tools are available which can enable the overall integration of the field from the sensor to the boardroom.'

'10-15 years ago we could not have thought about controlling the downhole valves sitting in the headquarters.'

It is possible that the customer may wish to use the data to develop automated tools to make decisions, 'which could enhance their productivity.'

Defining digital oilfield

A digital oilfield could be defined as 'an end to end solution which covers processes, people, assets, technologies and above all a strong belief in the power of digital intelligence,' he said.

'It is better described as a concept not a physical presence.'

According to this concept, information can be integrated and analysed in many different places, not just a purpose built room. 'Many people think of (digital oilfield) as a digital hub with hundreds of flashing screens and people earnestly taking notes.'

Digital communications between the various sites and automation systems are also part of the digital oilfield, he said.

The goal is that productivity is increased, and experts can spend time on the most important analytical tasks. It is about decision making, not just operational processes.

It should lead to safety improvements, from having fewer people travelling to and working in dangerous environments, with data being gathered and communicated automatically.

There are also cost savings, from not having to have people at the well site, and recovery benefits from being able to better manage the reservoir.

About Intech

Intech Process Automation specialises in bespoke automation projects in the oil and gas industry, such as brownfield upgrades or complete automation / electrical / digital projects.

It has offices in Houston, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, Singapore, Shanghai, Lahore, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, UK, Nigeria and Angola.

It has 450 staff, including 250 automation and electrical engineers, and 35 data scientists. It has completed over 2000 projects.



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