The presence of a complex bottleneck structure makes it non-trivial to find the best production strategy, and the competence of the production engineer makes a significant difference. Over the last decade, the number and quality of computer based tools to support the production engineers in their decision, has increased. The contribution from such tools can be divided into two.

The current state of the system– valuable information about the current state of the production system is often not easily accessible through measurements. A prime example is the flow of oil, gas and water from each well. Software able to estimate flow rates from each well with acceptable real-time accuracy are very valuable to the production engineer.

Improving the systems performance– the greatest value of knowing the current state of the production system is that it acts as a platform for improvement. However, knowing your current state is not enough. One also needs to know how the effect of changes, for example in a choke valve, affects the bottlenecks of the system. These effects could be complex, and only relying on human interpretation when searching for the best production strategy is clearly suboptimal, and indeed, sometimes dangerous. Computer based optimization systems that are able to assist the production engineer in these decisions, are therefore extremely valuable. Unfortunately, the time needed to compute recommendations has until now often been prohibitively high and thus impractical to efficiently contribute to the production engineer's workflow.

This paper discusses challenges and opportunities related to the development and use of such advanced online decision support tools. It highlights the potential of fast response times that enables totally different workflows, as a result of the fact that instant re-optimizations could be conducted in a well optimization decision meeting. The discussions are supported by presenting two most promising contributions from the IO Center, within this domain.

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