Oil and Gas companies increasingly need environments that support real time E&P business processes, by linking well site information, applications, and experts with operational managers (decision makers) in one place, where daily operational parameters are viewed, decisions are made, and decisions are acted upon. Most companies believe that making decisions in real time while leveraging global resources and infrastructure will help improve their productivity in oilfield operations, while reducing costs.

Project team members are often collocated to ensure open communication and planning. However, E&P activities often take place in remote and hostile parts of the world, where it may not be possible or economical to deliver all the required resources and personnel. Global operations frequently require that operations centers be "virtualized" so the team members can be globally dispersed. Reliable and secure information flow is the key to ensuring success in the oilfield of the future.

One solution to such problems is the creation of an Operations Support Center (OSC). Creating and supporting such a center presents significant challenges in process, networking, security, hardware, and software infrastructure. For example, end-to-end real-time solutions require remote connectivity and "first mile" technology. Some of the challenges have been documented elsewhere.1 

Successful creation of an OSC requires clear definitions of the business processes to be supported and the infrastructure technologies needed to support them. The well construction process is a good example of a business process that benefits from the OSC concept.

At one extreme, the contemporary well construction process is characterized by more complex wells in higher cost environments with fewer experienced people available. At the other end of the spectrum are high volume wells that are highly cost driven and have very specific and repeating processes. Overlaying this are the significant advances in IT and availability of funding for new developments.

Support activities for remote operations are attracting significant attention and investment. As a result the industry is seeing revised work processes based on improved up front models, along with plans that are more integrated with the actual well construction. In addition there is rapid progress on rig automation and recognition of the value added by acting in ‘real-time’ on more measurements.

Recently, Schlumberger and other companies have started using OSCs to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their service operations, and have also started to bring OSCs to the marketplace.

This paper discusses some of the special challenges faced in the well construction domain, with examples of how some of the challenges have been met. The goal of this paper is to illustrate an infrastructure that facilitates the remote collaborative activity. Hardware and software components have been integrated into this infrastructure and used to understand the directions for future developments.

While the primary focus has been collaboration to improve the well construction process, the infrastructure can also be used for production management or other oilfield operational activities.

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