With oilfield exploration and production in increasingly hostile and remote locations, the use of intelligent fields is essential for ensuring enhanced recovery, reduction of operating costs and increased profitability. An intelligent field is essentially a partially or fully automated oilfield, with real-time data flowing from the wells in the field, that enables monitoring and control for immediate operational needs and also for longer term optimization requirements. Basic oilfield automation consists of sensors that send data to monitoring systems, which is then used for immediate control of those operations. Further optimization occurs when the same data is sent onwards via communication links to onshore applications and processes, for more advanced management of the oilfield, such as production optimization, reservoir management etc. In essence, intelligent wells allow remote, centralized management and collaboration for the wells, by domain experts who can leverage all of the intelligence available in the operations environment for their decision making. This is the key to achieve the ultimate goal of recovering optimal hydrocarbons at the lowest cost.

Intelligent wells become the new basis for decision making by oilfield engineers, by using the collected data and information, and by monitoring, visualization, decision making and control. The key to success in this area is answered by questions such as: Does your intelligent well system provide the proper information, and not just data that you need to make good decisions in field management? Does your environment have the necessary technology that can, for example, search for and easily find relevant information, detect complex data patterns and problems and leverage it as usable knowledge to empower decision makers?

This paper covers oilfield automation by considering the different technology disciplines as ‘layers’, that are needed for the intelligent fields, such as sensors and controls, connectivity and data transmission, data access and finally making the data work. The discussion is from a production point of view for high value offshore wells, but the principles can just as well be applied to other scenarios.

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