Much has been written about real-time management in the oilfield. Field of the Futuretm, i-Field, e-Field, Digital Oilfield, Real-time Optimization, and Intelligent Oilfield are all describing similar approaches of idenfitifying, gathering, distributing managing, evaluating, and acting upon real-time data for equipment, wells, and reservoirs. But every company continues to wrestle with many of the fundamental implementation issues that can accompany such a comprehensive concept. This paper will address one of the most important aspects – the proper selection and use of the real-time management concepts and practices. All Exploration & Production (E&P) companies are in the process of implementing their own unique version of the real-time approach, and in particluar, each business unit, chooses its own starting point and area of emphasis. But, even today, companies lack clear guidelines in the selection of the appropriate assets upon which to apply real-time management principles. Business units and the program managers continue to test the application of real-time approaches in broad brush strokes, whereas today's numerous greenfields, brownfields, and stretched human resources require a much more refined approach.

Financial data, including both costs and benefits, is difficult to estimate for most real-time managament approaches. Part of this dilemna is based on the difficulty in distinguishing the components of a real-time management approach versus "common oilfield practices". A simple example can be found in automation equipment, which has permeated the oilfield for the past 30 years. By today's convention, automation equipment is a key component of a real-time management. When considering real-time management costs, it may or may not be included in the analysis. Thus, the difficulty in assembling accurate spend data is one of better defining those items that could be related to a real-time management approach, even though, by conscious choice, they may not be a part of a larger, comprehensive real-time management implementation. This said, real-time management implementations are likely to be in the billions of US dollars each year, and without any chance ebbing in the near future. Figure one depicts the key components of a real-time managament approach, also termed here the Intelligent Oilfield.

Benefits are also difficult to credibly derive, but for different reasons. For new developments, real-time management approaches are now being designed-in such that it is now the "new way of working". Comparing performance from these latest greenfields, chock full of automation and control equipment, collaborative team centers, wireless transmitters, and sophisticated data management, cannot be easily compared to prior greenfields. Differing reservoir factors remain the dominant distinguishing feature in that seperate one greenfield form another. Brownfields pose a similar issue in defining benefits. As the real-time management approaches are implemented, usually over a period of time and phased by various components, determining the genuine contribution cannot be easily extracted from base performance. In other words, to what extent do the new, real-time management approaches drive the higher performance (or at least lower the decline rate)? Most technical professionals believe that the latest real-time management approaches are beneficial, but precisely and credibly defining the difference from older approaches remains difficult in most cases. This is particularly true as the implementations become larger and multiple components are implemented in a more accelerated period of time.

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