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Intelligent Energy - Plenary Session

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The first plenary session of the Intelligent Energy conference in Utrecht, Netherlands in April looked at "aspirations" with speakers from Saudi Aramco, Statoil, Shell and ExxonMobil talking about where they would like intelligent energy to go

Ike Bellaci, senior petroleum engineering consultant, Saudi Aramco, said that the company's reservoir engineering aspiration is 'to know the movement of fluids with time," he said.

"4D seismic promises such an outcome. But until it works, we are left with estimated models."

Saudi Aramco has managed to reduce its drilling costs with horizontal wells, but also found you are not able to take so many measurements at different layers of the reservoir.

An audience delegate asked if future wells could be more of a grid, with laterals running horizontally and vertically, rather than just one tube. "There could be tremendous value for this technology," he replied.

Saudi Aramco is gradually moving to more 'product based' teams working structure, he said, which is "hands on and collaborative, application based".

Halvor Kjørholt, Leader Drilling and Well Solution Statoil, said that more than half of all offshore development spending goes on drilling, and drilling more wells is the most efficient way to increase recovery.

Statoil has achieved overall recovery of its fields of over 50 per cent, and it is "aiming for 60," he said. "This percentage will continue to climb. What it takes is cheaper, more efficient drilling.'

"In terms of drilling performance, we can double the efficiency, take 50 per cent out of the time it takes to drill a well," he said. "Onshore, they have tremendously increased efficiency.

We should be able to copy some of that [offshore]."

"Technology has had a big impact on drilling safety, but not drilling efficiency," he said. "I think there is a need for a revolution on offshore drilling and technology aspirations."

Mr Kjørholt suggested five ways drilling efficiency could be improved.

More real time well diagnostics could help improve drilling efficiency, so you would have accurate information about downhole condition including selfcalibration

Also technology for "Drilling sequence automation", where you can run the different sequences of drilling processes automatically rather than manually. "A version of this system is being installed in the Statfjord field of the North Sea," he said.

The industry has learned a lot from aviation and automotive industries in how to get autonomous systems running, he said.

"Drilling is operated like we operate an excavator. In future it will be much more process controlled," he said. "We tell the system which process we want. A lot will be operated autonomously."

Better downhole pressure control or managed pressure drilling would help. "It can be integrated in a drilling control system," he said.

Also robotic pipe handling on the drill floor.

It would be useful to drill inside casing, so you can make the well as you drill. "I see this as a way of making robustness in the downhole process," he said.

And real time reservoir navigation, so you can see around the drill bit during drilling.

To make this all work, "we have to develop the technology and we have to develop the competence," he said. "We are not there yet, but with five to ten years (we might). It is definitely something we can reach, at least on the technology side."

"We have to focus on preparing the organisation for this development. We have to have the right focus and some sense of urgency."

Klaus Mueller, Shell
Klaus Mueller, technology manager joint ventures with Shell, said he thought the industry could do much more with collaborative work environments (CWE). "I believe
we use it for ten to fifteen per cent of what we could use it for," he said.

The lack of uptake of these systems "really comes down to people", he said. "You need someone who's really inspired [to get it working].'

But staff are getting much more enthusiastic about CWEs, he said. "Before, no-one wanted to be in a CWE, everyone wanted a cubicle. Now, no-one wants to be out of it."

Mr Mueller said he expects to see more mobile computing tools to be used offshore, which can bring people working offshore into the collaborative work environment. Future mobile devices might include RFID readers, gas detection and man down detection.

One challenge with the smart field is that a lot of the kit involved can be very demanding for maintenance. It does not mean a pathway to unmanned operations, but it might be a pathway to taking 10 operators out of the field and putting 2 or 3 back in who are more skilled, he said.

Mr Mueller said he has seen real improvements in enhanced oil recovery, although it does demand "the IE concept in a big way".

You need to respond quickly to any problems "because it's so expensive," he said.

When it comes to getting change implemented, "we tend to use engineers as change managers and that's not a good idea," Mr Mueller said. "There are professionals out there who can do the job better."

The contracting and procurement systems "can be a huge blocker" [to intelligent energy], "with the variety of different contracts you have," he said.


Mike Ryan, VP ExxonMobil Canada East, said that the company is moving towards a vision of 'completely unoccupied larger facilities'.

"We want to be less complex and have lower costs of development," he said.

Getting there will include more remote/ unmanned operation equipment, advanced automation, advanced surface and subsurface sensing, integrated surveillance and analytics, and advanced collaboration capability, he said.

It will also need less equipment and less redundancy

Calling for less redundancy might be surprising, but the point is that having more equipment can make the overall system less reliable. It is better to have less spare equipment but equipment you know you can depend on. An example is how transatlantic planes have gone from 4 engines to 2 engines, he said.


A question was asked about how companies should get the right balance between training staff while working offshore, and training staff using collaborative work environments.

ExxonMobil's Mr Ryan said he thought onshore training might be more critical in future. "We have still too many people offshore. As we move work onshore we'll find ways to work efficiently," he said.

Statoil's Mr Kjørholt said "I see simulation as critical to compensate for lack of experience in the field."

Shell's Mr Mueller said, "Why should they get experience in something that's out of date? Like fixing a 1960s motorcar. There’s other jobs developing."

First IE event

The audience were asked in a survey how many Intelligent Energy conferences they had attended before.

Over half of the audience said that this was the first Intelligent Energy event which over half of the audience had attended. 17 per cent were at their second conference, 12 per cent were at their third, 2 per cent were at their fourth. There have been 5 Intelligent Energy events between 2006 and 2014 and a further event in Dubai last year.

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