Several companies have reported from 2% to 5% increase in oil production, and in some cases up to 10%, by a closer collaboration between onshore-based production optimization groups and offshore personnel. Several aspects have become apparent:

  • shorten reaction time to implementation of optimization measures enables staff to take full and immediate advantage of opportunities

  • the work is manpower-intensive during the collaboration sessions, but ensures continuity and easy access to technical competence

  • engineering resources are already scarce, and there is a need to relieve staff of minor, routine tasks to enable attention to be focused on realtime issues requiring human expertise

  • increased level of instrumentation complicates the work because it becomes increasingly difficult to utilize the available information to make better decisions

Other industries in information rich and highly dynamic domains have over years utilized the capabilities provided by autonomous systems and their dominant implementation platform, software agents to improve the decision making process. Over the last few years in collaboration with an autonomous software platform vendor, StatoilHydro have tried to apply the experience from other domains on some of our core business processes, concentrating on improving the volume of produced hydrocarbons and the regularity of the production process.

The work so far shows that in certain circumstances, autonomous systems can contribute to more effective production. In particular they enable more frequent adjustments in response to the actual well conditions. The main difference between the autonomous systems and more traditional automation is the ability to keep the human in control.

In our latest attempt we have applied the concepts of variable and delegated autonomy from the domain of unmanned flight on our production process. Compared with more traditional automation, the concepts of delegated and variable autonomy introduce negotiation between different sub-systems and a much more adaptable human-machine interaction.

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