AI Firm Ambyint’s New Bakken Deal With Equinor Moves the Industry Another Step Closer to the Edge
- Trent Jacobs (JPT Digital Editor)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- October 2018
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
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In the face of leaner economic times, oil and gas companies want to be able to boost well counts while minimizing any new additions to their field workforce.
Among the companies answering this call is Ambyint, which was just tapped to deploy its artificial intelligence (AI) systems to help optimize all of Equinor’s Bakken Shale wells running on sucker rod pumps—the oil field’s most common breed of artificial lift.
The deal is understood to be one of Ambyint’s largest contracts to date. Specific numbers have not been shared, but public data show that Equinor operates more than 800 wells in North Dakota. Ambyint, which is headquartered in Calgary and has an office in Houston, said the project scope may eventually include all of the Norwegian-owned operator’s horizontal wells in the state as they transition to rod pump.
The large-scale upgrade marks another milestone in the evolution of oilfield automation that for decades has been defined by a nearly-ubiquitous reliance on SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) systems.
One of the drawbacks of the status quo is that it requires small armies of field personnel to interpret SCADA data and then adjust setpoints to get pumping units back into optimal operating ranges. This manual process can consume half an hour per well to complete; downtime that quickly adds up in a field of hundreds.
“What we are talking about is having the machine do that entire workflow,” Chris Robart, Ambyint’s president of US operations said.
By equipping wells with its cloud-based AI and edge computing technology, and an application the company calls an autonomous setpoint management system, the man-hours once spent re-setting pumps can hopefully be reallocated to other bottom-line drivers. “We are freeing up individuals to go do other things, like think about new technology, troubleshoot failed equipment, deal with workovers, or new well designs,” Robart added.
Pilot Hits the Mark for Equinor The Bakken project comes after a pilot that included 50 of Equinor’s wells, which saw a net production increase of 6%—considerably larger uplift figures were seen from those wells suffering from underpumping.
The encouraging results were realized with zero shutdowns in production and minimal “human interference,” according to the companies.
“The Ambyint technology has improved the remote data visibility and has delivered a more accurate diagnostic of downhole conditions to our rod pump wells in the Bakken,” a production engineer for Equinor’s Bakken asset, Jack Freeman, said in a statement. “The autonomous speed range management tool has leveraged the power of machine learning to optimize our wells by identifying and acting on real opportunities”
Last year, Ambyint’s Series A funding round raised $11.5 million from several venture capital groups including Equinor Technology Ventures (formerly known as Statoil Technology Invest).
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