Many operators are starting to leverage digital oilfield technologies. These technologies positively impact production by accessing and integrating relevant in-time well data to optimize operational processes and equipment, identify asset underperformance, and anticipate undesirable events.

Maximizing the return on any investment in the digital oil field demands a robust understanding of all parts of the assets, from the reservoir through the surface facilities. It is no longer sufficient to simply move data in real time; we must be able to manage, interpret, and distribute relevant information across an organization to proactively address production challenges.

To meet these challenges, business and technical solutions must address:

  • The end-to-end workflow, from the sensor through to reservoir decisions.

  • The use of domain expertise to ensure timely prediction of, and appropriate reaction to, production issues.

  • Effective application of domain expertise through relevant in-time (R/T) collaborative access to pertinent well and reservoir information.

  • Operational costs, reliability, security, and ease of implementation.

This paper reviews the compelling events in our industry that are driving the evolution of new digital production workflows and considers some key criteria in the implementation of the digital oil field. It focuses on the responsibilities of the oilfield service provider for the delivery of reliable data, information, connectivity, and related services to support effective decision making. The paper shows that "well-centric" digital workflows are already benefiting production and saving costs; it also anticipates the enablement of a holistic approach that will optimize field development at the asset level.


In the dynamic world of oilfield asset management, delays or misjudgments in decision making can cost millions and even make the difference between success and failure. Ever-increasing instrumentation at all stages of the production process, combined with new communications technology, is enabling a wide variety of people to access massive volumes of oilfield data. The challenge is to maximize the value of the information. To achieve effective decision making and optimal workflow efficiency within a commercial organization, it is necessary to connect the right people with the right information at the right time and in the right format.

While the need for a continuous feed of field data to support oilfield production workflows is not new, to maximize the benefit of the volume and quality of R/T data provided through new information technology, we will require significant changes to our production management practices. Enabling technologies that contribute to enhancements in the production arena include affordable satellite communication, local field area networks, global connectivity to the Internet, collaborative workspace (both virtual and "war room" concepts), and data-mining agents. A key benefit is the move from a reactive operating environment toward a much more desirable proactive asset management situation.

Different subsurface and surface, upstream, and downstream workflows require widely varying rates of data delivery and time frames within which decisions must be made. The most useful data are "relevant in-time," delivered exactly when needed to feed the decision-making process and in relevant context for appropriate evaluation.

This content is only available via PDF.
You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.