Oil and Gas upstream operators are tasked with maximizing rates of production, availability and quality, whilst at the same time minimizing cost of production. Addressing this with a dwindling pool of expert resources following the "great crew change" makes the challenge even greater. Consequently, achieving increased utilization of expert resources will be critical to the future wellbeing of upstream operators.

This paper will initially explore a number of use cases where technology-based solutions can be used to "take the problem to the expert" rather than the "expert to the problem". The provision of long distance/remote access to expertise in real-time using integrated voice, video and data solutions will be shown to derive business benefits in terms of:

  • Reducing the time taken to reach decisions

  • Giving access to a wider range of experts, thus improving the quality of decisions

  • Reducing the cost of expert interventions by avoiding expensive and time consuming travel to rigs, wellheads and processing facilities

  • Increasing the utilization of experts by enabling them to work simultaneously on multiple issues potentially spread across multiple assets

The paper will then go on to address the key elements of the technology architecture required to deliver this remote access to expertise. It will also demonstrate how the need for standard reference communication architectures has to be tempered with a requirement for flexibility to accommodate multiple use case scenarios and operating environments. This paper will be based not only on the authors’ organization’s own research and development in this field, but also on practical experience implementing wide area collaboration technologies in upstream operations in a number of international and national oil companies. As a consequence it will include not only information on leading edge developments in collaboration technology, but also best practice based on practical experience in the field.

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