Summary

Saudi Aramco strives to implement new and innovative techniques and approaches to assist in meeting the industry's increasing challenges. One of these is the new study approach, "the Event Solution," which leads to better synergy among different stakeholders and enables faster decisions that fully encompass the complex uncertainties associated with today's gasfield and oilfield developments.

The Event Solution is a short, intensively collaborative event, which compresses major decision cycles, embraces uncertainty, and provides a wider range of alternative solutions. The Event Solution approach has been implemented successfully on 24 major studies worldwide, with the last eight projects conducted on Saudi Aramco megareservoirs.

The concept is simple: Identify the most important study objective, and focus the collective skills and creativity of a team of experts to meet the study objective in a special event that lasts just for 2 months. The team is enabled with the latest hardware and software technologies in a large team room, specially designed for collaboration, where they can work together. A facilitator leads the team to implement the Event Solution process that helps the team to see "the big picture" and understand what matters to the bottom line. The team composition is enriched with representatives from all of the stakeholders (including technical experts, management, facilitators, and sometimes government and joint-venture partner's representatives) so the results can be concluded and implemented immediately, with maximum buy-in.

The Event Solution process includes detailed uncertainty analysis and risk-assessment workflows that have been implemented successfully in many events. The most important deliverable of the Event Solution, however, is that all the stakeholders develop a clear and common understanding of the critical uncertainties, project risk, and the agreed plans to move forward--the decisions. This volume of work, which traditionally requires years, is completed in 2 months on average using the Event Solution process.

This paper presents the elements and processes of this new approach. Critical elements to a successful Event Solution include software, workroom, team members, and a facilitator. Once the elements are in place, the facilitator leads the team through processes that include project preparation, parallel workflows, uncertainty analysis, critical information plans, project risk assessment, and mitigation plans. Note that uncertainty analysis is not a simple byproduct of the study, but an integral component of success.

Introduction

The oil and gas industry spends more than USD 130 billion in capital and exploration expense worldwide each year (OGJ 2000a, 2000b) on complex and uncertain ventures, highlighting the significant added value that can be achieved through processes that create synergy while reducing the decision cycle time.

Warren (1994) notes that the success of an individual team can be variable when he states, "the fundamental idea of cross functional teams and goals appears to surface about every 10 years with a new label. Usually, attempts to implement this concept in the E&P business ended with utter failure for a variety of reasons" (Ching et al. 1993) The Event Solution extends the crossfunctional-team concept by formalizing key success factors:

  1. identifying the most important study objective,

  2. focusing the collective skills and creativity of a team of experts on meeting the study objective, and

  3. collaborating in a special event that lasts 2 months rather than years.

In the 1980s, the concept of asset teams was introduced by E&P companies around the globe to downsize and streamline operations. Unfortunately, integrated software was not mature enough at that time to enable real integration of the asset-team members. As integrated software became available and hardware became more powerful in the early-to-mid 1990s, asset teams began to achieve more success.

By the late 1990s, common processes were adapted by most major oil and gas companies to ensure consistency and repeatable success across teams. Highly formalized processes, often employing gatekeepers, were developed to integrate the management (decision makers) and technical (asset) teams.

Although integrated software and formalized processes enhanced the quality of the decision process, generating fully synergized analyses from a wide variety of data and skills was still a lengthy process. Furthermore, the decision makers often received different messages from different disciplines, which may not have incorporated a comprehensive image of uncertainty surrounding the decision.

Between 2004 and 2005, several synergized study approaches (Williams et al. 2004; Landis and Benson 2005) were introduced to the industry as a means to bridge the gap between the technical asset teams and decision makers. These approaches were set either as workshop-style projects or facilitated teams focused on a set of business objectives.

In 2001, the Event Solution approach was introduced to the industry (Ghazi and Elrafie 2001). Like asset teams, the Event Solution is a group of multidiscipline professionals working on a dedicated project. The Event Solution focuses on creating better synergy among all stakeholders (asset teams, managers, decision makers, and partners) by enabling faster decisions that fully encompass the complex uncertainties associated with today's projects. The focus is on specific, well-stated business objectives aligned to company strategy. The team follows a process in which each team member assesses uncertainties within his/her own analysis, with outputs subsequently rolled up into a studywide uncertainty assessment.

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