1660244520461 Autofair2017

Schlumberger finds efficiency in data

Nov. 14, 2017
Upstream oil and gas companies seek ways improve competitiveness and drive business performance

"We have reduced the time it takes to plan and engineer a well in half." Schlumberger’s Gavin Rennick explained how data can improve exploration and production efficiency.

In oil and gas exploration and production (E&P), there is quite a history of meeting market challenges with innovation and technology. Across the E&P sector, there is a general, broad belief that digital technology is going to play an important role in the future of the industry.

"Most companies in oil and gas today focused on how to not just survive, but how to thrive in the new environment industry finds itself in," said Gavin Rennick, president, software integrated solutions, at Schlumberger, in a session at Automation Perspectives, a media event hosted by Rockwell Automation in the run-up to the company’s Automation Fair this week in Houston. "They are looking at how to create value for themselves and their customers and how to differentiate themselves with their products. Much of their focus is around efficiency and effectiveness and how they deliver that across their enterprise."

Globally we are now more connected than ever before, said Rennick. "The statistics say that in 2015 there were 500 million connected devices," he said. "Today, we believe there are around 8 billion and, within a decade, about a trillion. These devices are producing an enormous amount of data, so data becomes central—the quality of data, how the data is managed, the security of data. How to extract real value, real insight from that data is really important."

Schlumberger's software integrated solutions group has been thinking about this for a number of years and is focused on how technologies can impact the business results and performance of its customers. It uses a business-led, outcome-focused and technology-driven approach, Rennick said.

Understand technology

The consumer technology world continues to change very fast, so Schlumberger did its homework reviewing reports and studies on the potential of these technologies. There were a huge range of predictions, anywhere for 6% to 30% of total E&P could be affected by this technology. That's somewhere between $50 billion and $250 billion.

It was clear that a deeper dive was necessary to understand the technology, so in 2014 Schlumberger restructured to focus much more on this new wave of digital technology and how to extract the most value from it.

For the past 35 years, Schlumberger has been designing and building software applications for the petrotechnical and engineering communities across oil and gas, with 70,000 active users of this technology. It supports these users with more than 4,500 domain scientists such as geologists, geophysicists and production engineers.

Both the user base and domain experts were engaged to understand which areas had the most potential. There were hundreds. Many were the basis for proof of concepts that were performed. "The best results we got were when we were able to connect the people who understood the technology with people who understood the science and domain and then focused them on an outcome," said Rennick. "Working together, it's amazing what they can do in a quick period of time."

To make this possible, Schlumberger needed a simple way to connect across its customers’ companies and people to science and technology. It didn't exist in the industry, so it reached out to its partners in industry and created it.

"In September this year, Schlumberger launched an environment called Delfi—the cognitive E&P environment," said Rennick. "It has a tremendous level of security, and it's data-centric. It allows simple, frictionless access and manipulation of data. It allows collaboration across the enterprise between multiple parties enabling them to work together in an entirely different way while capable of being personalized to each individual in the environment. And, residing in the cloud, it was scalable and allowed tasks to be automated for efficiency."

Accurate simulation

The production of oil and gas is complex, and Schlumberger holds a number of pieces of technology in software that allow it to simulate everything that happens in an oil and gas reservoir. "With these computationally expensive simulators, we are able to create a full digital representation of this process. But the network of systems is changing all the time, making it difficult to keep the simulations accurate. It required a lot of work from production engineers and technical specialists to keep things adjusted."

As Schlumberger started to work in the production space, it kept running into Rockwell Automation. “We are excited with some of the things we are doing with them,” continued Rennick. "Rockwell Automation's production-automation solutions include self-declaring devices, as well as some capabilities with edge analytics that are super interesting."

These added capabilities allow Schlumberger to ensure it has an accurate network and real-time data flowing back to the simulation. "Changes are automatically recorded and fed into our simulation, adjusting it in real time, said Rennick. “We can deliver accurate insight into the process. We can see, as a result of device changes, if any problems are going to happen and then, using Delfi, predict and send an action to the field to fix the problem before it occurs."

A number of proof points validated the understanding and use of technology. "We have reduced the time it takes to plan and engineer a well in half," said Rennick. "We also found that 90% of the tasks petrophysicists and geologists were conducting could be automated, making them more efficient and able to focus on high-value tasks. We are also seeing a 30% improvement in service reliability; availability increased 15%; and there are many other real impact examples. The right tools are in place to make that happen."

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