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Don't forget - it's about atoms - Satish Pai

Friday, August 24, 2012

Amid all the talk about 'intelligent energy', don't forget that it is the atoms which ultimately count, said Satish Pai, VP operations with Schlumberger, speaking at the SPE 2012 Intelligent Energy conference earlier this year

"The atoms part of the industry is going on a rig and drilling a well," said Satish Pai, Executive Vice President of operations with Schlumberger, speaking at the SPE 2012 Intelligent Energy conference opening session earlier in 2012.

"Clients make their money by taking a very expensive rig and drilling a well somewhere.

"It is very mechanical and hands on."

"Most people who work on a rig are not ready for this digital technology."

"I recently visited a 6th generation rig in the Gulf of Mexico. The driller has 15 to 20 screens. The directional driller is on one workflow, the mudlogger is on another work flow. I thought 'how is he making decisions with all of this data?'"

Mr Pai said that he is not concerned about the retirement of the industry's senior personnel. "I don't think that the 'big crew change' will be a problem," he said. "I think young people will do just fine."

[but] "the fact that we keep agonizing that we have a people problem I think is good. As an industry we are not recruiting enough people. There is a big cottage industry poaching people from one industry and taking it to another."

"It is pretty clear that our industry is getting much younger. But a huge emphasis is placed on experience, and you hear a lot about that at Schlumberger," he said.


An important area of technology development is developing workflows for people to work together, said Mr Pai.

"We have a geomechanics expert who is very good. He is watching 10 wells for us in different parts of the world. But it is the challenge of mapping that is very difficult."

"The technology exists, what doesn't exist is the workflows."

We also need better workflows to co-ordinate work between operators and service companies, he said. Many decisions being made on a rig are taken jointly by service companies and operators. "I think going forward, we'll have to come up with a more robust way of connecting people in a virtual workflow.'

Structured workflows will also help with regulatory compliance. Increasingly, "you need to show the authorities your decision making chain. Technology is going to have to play a big role here," he said.

Meanwhile there have been big improvements in knowledge management systems. Automation has taken big strides. This is all leading to "remote operations getting normal in many parts of the world," he said.

Automotive and aviation

"Quite a lot of industries are nimbler than us and learning a lot faster,' he said.

For example, perhaps the industry can learn from the automotive industry in making downhole tools which are reliable.

"People tell us, I don't care about functionality, just make sure it is reliable," he said.

Perhaps the oil and gas industry can learn from the aviation industry in predictive maintenance. "People know what to change when the plane lands," he says. "In oil and gas we have [yet] to get that level of predictive maintenance. People say only fix it when it's broken."

Associated Companies
» Schlumberger
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