BP has had an active digital oilfield programme for over 10 years with our Field of the Future technology flagship. This paper identifies some key learnings from both our own experience and comparison with activity across the industry. We then examine the implications for the future of the digital oilfield concept.

In retrospect, we characterize BP's activities into two distinct phases. We believe the characteristics of these phases also apply more generally in the industry.

Phase 1 (2000-05) dealt with communicating a compelling vision and demonstrating the validity and potential of the digital oilfield concept. This phase dealt with engaging asset and major project teams in understanding the potential value in new ways of working by accessing real time operational information. In an R&D sense, Phase 1 was about developing and integrating a diverse set of tools to support technology trials and prove up the concept.

In Phase 2 (2005-11) we started to implement at pace and scale. For BP, the focus was on delivery of discrete real-time remote monitoring solutions and target driven value realization for well monitoring, surveillance by exception (i.e event driven rather than by routine scheduling), equipment reliability, and production optimization. We have documented value delivery of over 70 mboed net cumulative production impacts, plus other benefits. The choice of specific technologies was less important than the drive for sustainable implementation and solid business cases.

The range of industry experience raises an interesting question about options for the next phase of activity. These range from a focus on embedding the success to date as "business as usual", through to targeting the next class of difficult problems or operational risk reduction. Using the skills and experience from Phase 2 could unlock even greater value and further transform the work of energy companies.

  • Digital oilfield programmes appear to be progressing through a sequence of 5 year phases.

  • A number of Key Success Factors have been identified:

    • Achieving effective organizational engagement;

    • Developing productised solutions and standards supporting rapid deployment of common tools across a significant number of assets;

    • Deploying for sustained change to ways of working;

    • Driving value delivery.

  • A range of options and requirements for future direction and success now exist, including:

    • Embedding digital oilfields as the way the industry does things;

    • Addressing the next set of tough business and operational risk problems;

    • Integrating the next generation of technology developments.

    • Designing systems and interfaces that the ‘next generation’ of engineers and geoscientists will want to work in and with.

You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.