Advances in drilling technology (e.g. fracing, horizontal wells) has led to successful development of onshore shale gas, tight gas, coal bed methane, shale oil and burgeoning well numbers. Some Majors have indicated that they will drill up to 20,000 new wells by the end of the decade. To achieve well numbers and cope with the work load and manpower shortages, drilling automation technologies are being introduced that will allow multiple rigs to be operated remotely and downmanned.
It is premised that well production operations will also have to be automated to cope with increasing work load as resource will not be available to operate these wells in the traditional, manual way. Associated production processes that will have to be automated include, well surveillance/optimization, well testing, sampling, chemical injection and hydrocarbon accounting. It is desirable to bring the wells onstream as soon as possible after drilling and to maintain production rates at as high a level as possible and to simultaneously account for production of oil, gas and water. It also is imperative to ensure the highest level of safety and environmental factors.
Hence, the purpose of this paper is to describe well automation business requirements/benefits and potential system solutions to optimize production over the life cycle for the ever increasing number of onshore wells that will be drilled in the near future.