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New technologies from ITF Showcase

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The ITF Technology Showcase in Aberdeen on March 5th had some interesting new digital technology for the oil and industry, mainly around gathering and displaying data

LSC Group

LSC Group, a UK Technical Consulting and IT company, is promoting the 'Mezzanine' system for collaborative conference rooms to the oil and gas industry, which can connect together many screens, devices and users.

Mezzanine was developed by Oblong Industries, a spin-off company from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab. It is already used by Schlumberger and Saudi Aramco.

The technology was originally developed after Steven Spielberg asked the Media Lab what technology they thought people might be using in 2054 for his 2002 film 'Minority Report', and if they could develop it.

It is possible to connect tablet computers and mobile phones with the system. If someone is running a software package installed on their computer, they can share a screenshot.

Helen Evans, Visualisation Solutions Business Development Manager with LSC, believes that the technology is more flexible than other collaborative technologies on the market.

Using 3D radar while drilling

Severn Subsea Technologies of the UK, and Dutch subsurface research agency T&A Survey, are collaborating to develop a 3D radar tool which has the potential for use in the drill string.

Amongst other applications, the tool can be useful for steam assisted gravity drainage (SAGD), where two wellbores a fixed distance apart are required. When drilling the second wellbore, the radar can show how far away the first is, to allow you to maintain a constant distance apart.

The radar penetration varies, depending on the composition of the surrounding substrate, and can be up to 300m around the wellbore in certain situations, says Tim Blake, Senior Engineer at Severn Subsea Technologies.

The tool is currently in operation at depths of up to 100m but the company is working with T&A Survey to extend the operating depth to over 1000m. The biggest challenge in developing the technology is fitting a radar device inside a non-metallic housing which is robust enough for the high temperatures and pressures encountered at these depths, he says.


Image Spaarks stand.jpg - caption 'Spaarks - software magic on a global scale'
Spaarks, a software development company with offices in Glasgow, London and Aberdeen (UK) and Canberra (Australia), is aiming to bring 'agile' -style software development to the oil and gas industry.

Clients include Deutsche Bank, Lloyds TSB, EMC and the Australian government.

Oil and gas companies usually develop software by putting together complex specifications of what they want and asking a software development company (often with many employees in India) to build it.

But meanwhile the rest of the world has discovered that the best software can be developed by very small teams, working intensely in short bursts (for example two weeks), and seeing if they come up with something useful or not, then gradually improving it. The software development method is called 'Agile'.

In fact, Spaarks is used to clients who come with a problem to be solved, rather than with a specification of what to build, says Catherine Steele, co-founder and director.
It is looking for clients which want a collaborative approach with their software development company. 'We want to understand our clients' business really well, that's the only way we can deliver for them,' she says.

Cambridge Consultants -sensor for shipments

Cambridge Consultants of the UK has developed a 'smart' tag which can be attached to shipments, which works out if the shipment has been handled badly and can send information about it.

The tag contains a clock, two vibration sensors (low dynamic range, high dynamic range), a humidity and temperature sensor, a processor, memory, a coin cell battery and Bluetooth communicator.

If the shipment is mishandled or sees any preset condition threshold exceeded, the processor wakes up and records the time and severity of the event. This data can be downloaded to a Bluetooth receiver.

The coin cell battery can keep the sensor running for 1-2 months, says Frances Metcalfe, associate director oil and gas with Cambridge Consultants.

Chemostrat - stratigraphic correlations
Chemostrat, a company based in Welshpool, UK, has developed a multi-disciplinary workflow, 'the Sandtrak Pathway' to tackle correlation and provenance problems at reservoir, field and basin scale.

The application of the Sandtrak Pathway provides:

Enhanced understanding how tectonics, palaeoclimate and weathering impacts on reservoir quality
A means to map basin-wide sediment dispersal patterns thereby enabling forward modelling of reservoir targets

Improved field-scale mapping of sandstone packages for well placement in field development
Refined sandstone reservoir correlation for enhanced production

A means to accurately pinpoint unconformities in stratigraphic plays

Cybula - search engine for condition monitoring

Cybula, a company based in the University of York, UK, is building a database of signals from condition monitoring of equipment.

For example, when monitoring rotating equipment using vibration sensors, you get a squiggly line - getting from the squiggly line to a useful analysis is very hard, particularly if something is happening which does not happen very often.

Cybula is building up a database of different events, and can compare the signal with its database, to try to work out what is going on. It might be something which only happens every 10 years. You also need to be able to reduce false alarms.

Cybula is active in many industries, but the main focus is condition and health monitoring, in the energy, power generation and aerospace sectors.

'50 per cent of data content is noisy, messy and not very usable - you have to do a lot of prework,' says John McAvoy, business development director of Cybula.

The company is currently looking for oil and gas companies willing to help develop the technology in the oil and gas industry, he said.

Sagentia - acoustics and data analysis

UK technology consultancy Sagentia is looking for ways to develop acoustic monitoring in the oil and gas industry, using ideas from the medical and industrial sectors, said Annie Hairsine, senior vice president of oil and gas with Sagentia Ltd.

She used the example of an asthma inhaler which has been built with an acoustic monitor, which records the puffing sounds. This data can be downloaded to an iPhone and sent to a doctor, to provide information about how often the device is being used, and if it is being used correctly.

Ms Hairsine has also looked at developments to record and transmit acoustics from domestic boilers. If there is a problem with the boiler, remote engineers can listen to the sounds and determine what the problem might be, before sending an engineer out to fix it.


UK company Petrofocus is developing an automated version of their industry standard diagram software, Completions Manager. The new tool can draw high quality well diagrams from existing Excel data without user intervention.
Drawing an automated well schematic can take less than a minute , says Colin Izat, customer service manager, compared to over half a day using conventional methods.
Well engineers can understand each other's well diagrams, much easier than they can understand each other's spreadsheets.
The diagrams become a reference document for the life cycle of a well and can be easily updated.
The company is actively looking for industry sponsorship to help develop the software beyond the current prototype stage, he says.

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