Well Service: Impact of Wellsite Monitoring on Economics, Standards, Performance, and Culture
- Fred M. Newman (UniTrak Inc.) | Don Dillingham (Altura Energy Ltd.) | Karl Ivanhoe (Chevron USA)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- SPE Production & Facilities
- Publication Date
- May 2002
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 102 - 109
- 2002. Society of Petroleum Engineers
- 3.1 Artificial Lift Systems, 4.3.4 Scale, 1.10 Drilling Equipment, 3.1.1 Beam and related pumping techniques, 1.10.1 Drill string components and drilling tools (tubulars, jars, subs, stabilisers, reamers, etc), 2 Well Completion, 6.1.5 Human Resources, Competence and Training, 2.2.2 Perforating
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This study produced a quantifiable database that provided analysis and interpretation of field activities over more than 20,000 righours during a 14-month period. The data were obtained by sealed, independent, electronic measurement from selected well-service providers performing assorted jobs under a variety of conditions. This study was initiated because of a lack of known published or accredited standards or guidelines for assessing well-service performance. The primary focus was on overall job quality, rod and tubing makeup, time use, crew efficiency, and safety. Information was acquired with an unattended system, temporarily stored on the rig recording unit, and retrieved by wireless remote to a host PC at a central office. Archived data were analyzed graphically and tabularly and were reported to well-service and oil companies to develop and maintain well histories, publish crew-efficiency reports, identify optimum procedures, improve safety, and publish time studies. Current industry quality-assurance practice consists mainly of the occasional overview of well-service crews by a field engineer or foreman, relying on visual perception and experience in judging service quality and procedures. The results are extraordinary repeat failure rates and unresolved service problems. The new electronic-monitoring technology documents and resolves deficient intrinsic field cultural practices. Our data and analysis conclusively show that repeat failure rates and downtime are reduced. Service-crew awareness concerning work processes and efficiency is raised to a higher level. Productivity increases, artificial-lift costs decline, and fair accountability is maintained with permanent records. Oil companies use the new technology to establish and monitor their alliances; service companies use the results to train crews in proper techniques. Credible reporting now enables and mandates performance over personality when making long-term economic decisions. This technology will push the evolution of the well-service industry with the establishment of quality and performance standards. Quality standards, rather than perceptions, will be the basis for decisions.
Cost control and profit margins are the primary driving forces behind the interest in increased rig efficiency. However, to what standards of efficiency and effectiveness should well servicing be held? At best, the current scenario is for an individual operator or service company to establish its own standard practices to maximize positive outcomes from the servicing of any particular well. Today, however, there are no uniformly applied, industry-wide standards or guidelines for well-service performance. Numerous regulatory standards apply, and API specifications and recommended practices are, in some manner, incorporated into operator and service-company procedures and practices,1,2 but these are applied haphazardly at the field level. As a result of this unilateral approach, most contracts are based subjectively on relationships among service companies and operators rather than on an objective judgment and a comparison of who is the most qualified and can best do the work. Most oil or service companies can not explain in detail what they expect in terms of quality performance from a service provider or on what basis they would compare rig performances.
Without objective and documentable means to monitor well servicing, companies have been at a loss to accurately review and improve the performance of a particular rig, its crew, or the company responsible, for any action or lack thereof. Today, rig activities are monitored by the on-site service-company pusher and the oil-company representative. The narratives and reports they submit for the completed work are susceptible to error because of individual perceptions, biases, and experiences. In the event of problems or failures, reconstructing a root cause from such information is frustrating at best and impossible much of the time.
To objectively evaluate work practices and standards, something like the in-flight data recorder, or "black box," on an airplane would be ideal. Tamperproof and unobtrusive, the device should constantly record rig activities. It should eliminate human error and partiality in documentation, reduce operating costs, and increase the productivity and quality of well servicing. It should provide historical data on which to base performance standards and information to electronically track recurring well failures. Although it initially appears that more accurate standards of rig-performance and -monitoring devices benefit oil companies only, service companies can see positive outcomes also. Competition is based on a level playing field, and service companies are able to negotiate work contracts on a "results" basis rather than a "cost per hour" basis.
A device was developed specifically for implementation on pulling units. It derived its power from the rig's 12-V system without requiring attendance by any on-site personnel, constantly monitoring critical parameters. Although analog measurements were made continuously, for digital recording and storage purposes, the maximum peak measurement of these signals was judged the most critical and was recorded for selected time intervals, usually 4 seconds. This was usually downloaded remotely once a day by a host computer polling each installation by cell phone.
The proper and full use of this data mandates that the management of both the service provider and oil company be involved. Both must have a clear understanding of each of their respective roles. The service providers must be committed to working with and for the oil operator to define production problems and find better ways of doing business. The oil company must communicate its guidelines for performance standards clearly and unequivocally to the service providers and leave the daily management of the rigs to them.
Rig-monitoring systems can have positive effects on the energy industry. Operating costs decrease, and rig use and performance quality increase with long-term recordkeeping. The change, however, will not be completely comfortable for anyone. The adversarial positions of the oil and service companies will not be eliminated, but they will shift somewhat. There will be a better understanding of the respective roles of each company using this technology, but this will require a cultural change in the industry.
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