Every year, conflicting activities in congested offshore producing fields cost operators millions of dollars in lost time—both from operational inefficiencies and incidents caused by too many parties trying to work in the same area at the same time. Examples of these activities include, but are not limited to: divers and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) performing routine maintenance and repairs, workovers, fishing and supply vessels coming and going unpredictably, anchor-handling operations, seismic surveys, and oil tankers arriving without sufficient warning at a floating production-storage and offloading (FPSO) vessel.
In congested areas around active drilling rigs and producing platforms, failures of a person's understanding of a situation compared to actual conditions (known as situational awareness (SA)), and conflicts among simultaneous operations (SIMOPS) are, sadly, fairly common. In many cases, SA/SIMOPS incidents are due to human error. Because people are still in control of oil and gas operations, human error and operational risk can never be entirely eliminated, but SA/SIMOPS management systems can minimize reduction or loss of SA, which is responsible for as much as 88% of human error. This technology helps to manage risk and keep it at an acceptable level while significantly improving operational efficiencies. As a result, operators can benefit from higher margins of safety and improved performance while no longer having to accept the current level of SIMOPS-related inefficiencies or incidents as simply the cost of doing business.
Traditional manual processes, whiteboards, email, Gantt charts, and spreadsheet programs are no longer sufficient to prevent or control costly SIMOPS conflicts in increasingly chaotic offshore fields. To optimize the execution of critical activities, an SA/SIMOPS management system must provide all relevant parties with timely, near real-time updates during rapidly changing operations.
SA/SIMOPS management introduces new principles, work processes, information technology tools, and changes in behavior to accomplish its safety and efficiency goals. Initiatives with similar characteristics can be found in the digital oilfield (DOF) pilots now being implemented around the world. By applying what has been learned in these programs, the installation and use of SA/SIMOPS solutions can be accelerated. This paper presents an innovative approach that directly addresses these challenges.