Abstract

The last decade has witnessed an almost universal shift of emphasis away from operator functional objectives towards the actual business performance of individual assets, which in turn is highly dependent on the day to day production environment and its evolution. Improvements in production data acquisition and data management technology are not always translated into real and quantifiable productivity gains, due to constraints in manpower, tools and expertise. This paper describes a methodology which can be used to address these issues through an integration of software technology and improved work processes.

A system has been developed which links on-line (real-time and near real-time) downhole, surface and corporate data to ensure that reservoir, well and facilities models are constantly monitored and updated to reflect actual operating conditions. With this "always current" encapsulation of the production system (between reservoir and delivery point) it is possible to perform a wide range of tasks to manage the asset performance: production optimization, facilities design and planning, production forecasting, allocation and loss management, etc.

The system integrates a number of existing software applications, and also streamlines the number of complex engineering tasks which are normally required. The system has been applied in a number of actual operational environments and the results of some of these applications are presented in this paper.

The main technical contributions described in this paper include:

  1. A robust optimization technology which has been technically proven in a large number of field applications.

  2. A workflow solution which automates production data transfer, manipulation and calibration to provide constantly updated well, facilities and network models.

  3. Integration of the system with SCADA/DCS and corporate databases to shorten the field optimization cycle from months to hours.

  4. Use of the technology for loss management, production forecasting and advanced surveillance.

Introduction

The oil industry is subject to major business cycle changes driven through oil price fluctuations. The last twenty years have been characterized by an ongoing, and arguably successful, search for performance breakthroughs using new technology. In the E&P sector is estimated that over this time period unit costs have fallen by two thirds, with improved technology accounting for 80% of that improvement1.

In this context "technology" is commonly defined by new techniques or equipment: e.g. 3/4D seismic, integrated subsurface geological modeling, horizontal and multilateral well technology, "smart wells", etc. Largely these have been made possible by parallel developments in another form of technology: computer processing power and information technology2. These have resulted in advances in data acquisition (sensors, telemetry, storage and analysis) and control which in turn have made it possible to drill and operate the wells referred to above as well as better identify and characterize the reservoirs which are still being discovered.

To achieve the performance targets also requires people who possess the relevant skills as well as adequate domain knowledge to efficiently apply what have become termed "step changes in technology".

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