One recent management trend is the establishment of onshore operations centers by oilfield operators that are currently developing offshore assets. Unfortunately, the formation of such a center has typically been a niche activity within many companies and, as a result, some may fail to consider the lessons learned from earlier operation center failures. It is also vital that those attempting to develop such a center make sure the center's purpose functions within the industry's overall framework. While these centers have often delivered, with varying degrees of success, on their anticipated benefits such as faster decision-cycle time, better, more informed decisions and reduced POB, robust business and organizational models are necessary to ensure these efforts' long-term viability.

As part of a long-established business partnership, Norsk Hydro and Baker Hughes INTEQ have recently implemented changes to the industry's longest continuously running remote drilling operations center. Supporting some of the Norwegian Continental Shelf's most technologically challenging drilling operations, the center is contributing to improved financial performance, reduced POB, enhanced service quality and supporting work process changes within both organisations.

The revised model has been implemented as the 'normal' service delivery channel for five drilling operations supported by the BEACON center on a 24/7 basis and routinely operate advanced technologies such as formation pressure testing while drilling, deep reading resisitivity and azimuthal imaging services.

This paper will outline the technical and commercial models that have been developed, provide insight to the challenges encountered and achieved successes.


Transferring real-time rig-site data to office-based experts is not a new concept within the E+P industry. In 1985, Mobil established a satellite communications network to feed real-time drilling and MWD data to the Mobil Drilling Data Center1 and, a short while later, Amoco opened a similar drilling center2. These early command centers delivered rig-site data to a central group of experts (additional to the core operations/asset teams) tasked with supporting critical operations. Little attention was placed on process management or human processes and, coupled with an inability to demonstrate the value of maintaining dedicated experts and infrastructure in a changing business environment the Amoco center eventually disbanded in 19893.

The late 1990's Norwegian oil industry was characterized by

  • Rapid technology development of advanced down-hole drilling technologies such as Rotary Closed Loop Drilling Systems

  • Increase in production by innovative application of new drilling, completion and production technologies. The exploitation of the thin oil leg of the Troll field by Norsk Hydro exemplifies this

  • Investment by oil companies in fiber optic telecommunications infrastructure

  • Rapid advances in computing technology and large scale uptake of web based software applications

Norsk Hydro and Baker Hughes began work in 1997 on defining work practices and organizational models that would address the challenges listed above by relocating some personnel from offshore to an onshore operations service center manned 24/7. The concept was named BEACON (Baker Expert Advisory Center/Operations Network) and, after pilot testing with Hydro and BP in 2000/1, commercial operations commenced at the end of 2001[3].

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