Digitalization is the latest buzzword in the oil and gas industry. And rightly so: it is an intrinsic part of our daily lives. The number of connected devices was about 8.4 billion worldwide in 2017, up 31 percent from 2016, and is set to surpass 20 billion by 2020 when each of us will interact with an internet-connected device every 18 seconds. But what does the world of data hold for the Upstream business?
“Data becomes extremely central to everything you do in business and we can see that happening everywhere in the world”, says Gavin Rennick. And he should know. He is responsible for Software Integrated Solutions at Schlumberger – the world’s largest oilfield services company and as such he has been at the forefront of the digitalization shifts in the oil and gas industry. “The things you can do as a result of the new technology are changing pretty dramatically in the Upstream business”, he adds. The industry is well aware of this, as illustrated by an Accenture survey showing that 62 percent of oil and gas industry professionals plan to increase investment in digital technologies in the coming years. Reservoir modeling, drilling and production data management are just some of the Upstream areas where technology can leverage massive potential.
“Oil and gas companies want to achieve efficient exploration, secure extremely cost-effective well construction and lower lifting costs. Using new technology has a huge potential here to impact business performance and reduce the costs per barrel.”
President of Software Integrated Solutions, Schlumberger
Pumping jacks and oil production facilities are normally spread out over many kilometers, so keeping them all in view can be quite a challenge. Luckily we are living in the digitalization age. OMV has multiple projects underway for the digitalization of oil fields and has already managed to implement automation technologies at 4,200 wells in Romania out of some 8,100 active wells in total. By 2020 over 70% of our wells will be automated and able to be monitored remotely. The interconnected technology allows operators to optimize production through early detection, correct possible weak spots and provide the most effective maintenance.
Artificial intelligence is becoming a key factor in data handling, bringing concrete and immediate benefits. “If you have a new well, then an artificial intelligence algorithm can look into other projects and run data analyses that show the risks the new well is likely to have in the short term or in the future. What’s more, the software recommends what action – like water injection or workover – should be taken. So you can plan your entire operation to address the risks before they happen. And you can action it and let people in the field know on their mobile phones”, says Rennick. While that technology may still be around the corner, major advances are already a reality at OMV.
“We have artificial intelligence in place that supports the monitoring of the operation by visualizing the data for everyone involved. So we try to find a balance between the human and machine strengths and use them in an optimum way.”
Drilling Engineer, OMV Upstream
Another data-heavy sphere involves visualizations of the layers beneath the Earth’s surface; the sheer number of gigabytes means that these reservoir models and studies are limited by speed. “To run them can take geologists about nine months. Today, we are able to cut that down to about a month and a half. It’s no problem anymore to run about a hundred different reservoir simulations in the cloud in parallel. Employees are able to access them on their different devices and you get three to four people working on the same data, performing interpretations at the same time. That’s already current and active technology – out in the market and loved by geologists”, beams Rennick. “Having highly personalized information available anytime anywhere – this is the ambition we have set for ourselves”, adds Andreas Al-Kinani, OMV Upstream Digital Information Management Strategist.
Technology can also simply be a tool to allow people to collaborate in a truly interactive way. The completion of the new 3D seismic Visualization Center at the OMV head office marks a huge step forward in interdisciplinary, interactive, international collaboration. The technology that is used in this room is unique and state of the art. It has a completely new projector that has not yet been deployed anywhere else in the world in its current form. “The multi-functional collaboration space will promote faster decision making and allow our geoscientists and engineers to mitigate uncertainty risks by visualizing down to the smallest details”, says Manfred Kögl, OMV Upstream Information Management Project Manager, who managed the project at OMV.
Take a look at the video to see how the 3D Visualization Center was brought to life and meet the geoscientists whose work has already been transformed by the state-of-the-art facility.