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E-OILFIELDS

BY

Ezeoma Raphael C.
Facilities Engineering, Chevron Nigeria Limited,
Lagos, Nigeria

ABSTRACT

The petroleum industry is seeing an increased focus on Digital Oilfield. This article discusses the
concept and features of digital oilfield called e-field, i-field, x-field or smart-field. It examines how
existing and emerging technologies can be used to integrate real-time operations with management
decision making system especially the IT systems. Typical e-field model is proposed. Finally, some
challenges facing e-fields were discussed and solutions proposed.

INTRODUCTION
are online (real-time). Solutions for oil and gas
Imagine an oil or gas plant that can
companies must address cost of ownership,
automatically tune itself to stability. Consider
information mining for better decision making,
the same oil or gas plant predicting a problem
access to information anytime from anywhere,
twenty four hours in the future. Assume a
and adaptable and sophisticated decision
pipeline control system asking the Operations
making approaches that allow money making
team for a pigging run. Think of a facility
and money saving decisions to be made in real-
telling the Oil or Gas Contracts team that it
time.
cannot make assigned nominations. Imagine
the facility telling the Business Development Energy companies today are facing the most
team that the proposed tie-back in future year competitive climate ever: increased pressure
will cause compression problems. Now, finally from customers for more cost-competitive
assume all these information being available in products and services, the stresses brought on
real time at central or head office where by e-Business technology advances,
decision and control can be effected. regulatory changes, environmental impacts, the
changing competitive arena due to mergers and
E-fields are oil and Gas fields whose operations
new entrants. The increasing demand for cost
including management decisions
effective development of oil and gas resources
in risky environments and the need to squeeze

261 Nigerian Society of Engineers YANKARI, 2008


more reserves from mature fields have led to an Digital Oil & Gas Field
industry-wide push to develop the framework E-field is an oilfield management strategy that
for the e-field (called by different names: promises lower operating costs and increase
smart fields, i-field, x-field, y-field, production volumes for oil and gas companies.
digital oilfields, integrated operation, Industry analysts estimate that by using
1
digital oil field of the future or DOFF). mordern tools and technologies, oil and gas
recovery can increase by billions of barrels
Oil and gas industries could easily and rather
while companies realize double digit cost
inexpensively go even further in extracting
reductions. By continuously collecting real-
more value out of its already installed base of
time data from each well and deploying the
equipment and further continue the industry's
right skills, tools and work processes in a
need for innovation. And it is important to
collaborative way, companies can instantly
understand that the word "value" in this case
analyze data. This creates an intelligent
means extracting value from the data and
enterprise to monitor and control assets and
information that already exist but are hardly
optimize recovery on demand, from wherever
used by management at the field, plant, and
the people or oilfields are.
operational levels. Indeed, there are more data
available now than ever before in the history of The foundation of e-field is engineering
oilfield operations. In fact, the goal should be simulation, with integrated asset models and
integrated, predictive management models that portfolio views of the business built on top.
are derived from direct connections between While the petroleum business still depends
the business systems and field operations. heavily on burly machinery and people, the oil
field is becoming more digital by the day.
Early oilfield management focused on hard
Among the gradual yet far-reaching
engineering technology2. Evolution of oilfield
technological advances are drill bits armed with
management leads to SCADA system three to
minicomputers that can relay information from
four decades ago. SCADA stands for
deep under the ground to scientists around the
Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition. It is
globe almost instantaneously. By enabling rig
a software package positioned on top of
crews and petroleum engineers to share real-
hardware to which it is interfaced, via
time drilling and production data, oil
Programmable Logic Controllers (PLCs), or
companies hope to improve the efficiency and
other commercial hardware modules. The next
precision of operations, with fewer hands
generation of oilfield management is e-field.
involved.

262 Nigerian Society of Engineers YANKARI, 2008


unfinished well is headed. Most importantly,
Improved mapping software allows
they can redirect the drill path midstream to the
geoscientists to better identify the sweet spots
desired target area -- a procedure known as
of petroleum reservoirs thousands of feet below
geosteering.3 In oil and gas industries,
the earths surface. As a result, petroleum
technology advancement hold out promise.
engineers can have better well path plans. Once
the well is drilled and production begins, E-field Concept
subsurface sensors powered by low-voltage
The traditional method of ensuring the uptime
batteries transmit continuous streams of data
of oil and gas facilities was to employ field
about pressure, temperature and flow via high-
personnel to physically drive to each well.
speed satellite networks. As geoscientists and
Monitoring, alarming and timely control of
engineers in offices, receive and interpret this
remote facilities and sites is essential for safe
information, they can direct oilfield technicians
and efficient operations in the oil and gas
to adjust remote-controlled valves located in
industry. There are substantial legal and
the well to maximize output. With e-field data
operational consequences for failure to detect
is brought to the people, rather than the people
hazardous events such as an overflowing liquid
to the data, said William Severns, a senior
storage tank, a failed compressor or a corroded
director at CERA. This allows oil companies to
transmission pipeline. The smart field ensures
use services of experts (by way of the Internet)
that events are detected and acted upon.4
in the field faster and more cheaply than they
could in the past. The revolution in digital oil
The smart field (e-field) systems using wireless
field technology could well transform the
technology allow energy companies to gather
dynamics of world oil supply at a time when
production data from remote sites and collect it
the industry is facing a variety of major
in centralized data center. Such real-time
investment challenges.
activities promote greater production uptime,
more efficient operations, better asset
One emerging practice the oil and gas
maintenance and higher profits.
industries are particularly excited about are tiny
computers attached to the drill, giving
Integrated real-time operations are likely to
companies a more accurate picture of the
evolve from three key technologies. First,
geology surrounding a well as it takes shape.
companies must have mastery of their
With this information, geophysicists working
automated process controls, extending from
offsite can improve upon earlier models drawn
measurement devices at the production facility
from seismic data and assess exactly where the
263 Nigerian Society of Engineers YANKARI, 2008
level, through digital control systems, to overall
Visualization: Three-dimensional and/or large-
business systems. The second and third key
format rendering of complex E&P data sets
technologies are derived from familiarity with
helps field development planning teams
"enterprise resource planning" systems that
optimize well placement and well paths,
provide an understanding of the next generation
identify bypassed reserves, minimize time-to-
of business systems and how they provide
depth errors, accelerate recovery rates and
integrated benefits beyond traditional
reduce costs.
accounting and finance systems. Indeed, in that
sort of environment, there is room for
Intelligent Drilling and Completions: Real-
human/machine-interface technology that
time subsurface data acquired during drilling
connects plant-level systems to higher-level
operations helps engineers avoid drilling
systems within companies.5
problems and maximize reservoir penetration
through better geosteering of the well path.
As the concept of smart fields progresses,
Down-hole temperature, pressure, multi-phase
companies will learn that there are solutions
flow sensors and other valves installed during
that can, for instance, solve an existing
completion help operators optimize well
deepwater issue. There is already evidence that
productivity, identify early water breakthrough
inter-working technologies from the sensor
zones and injection inefficiencies and control
level up to the applications level can permit
flow.
security, collaboration, and adaptive workflows
in the offshore environment.
Automation: Remote monitoring and control
technologies, many already in use enable
E-field Features
automated data gathering, automatic alarming
The five main features of e-field are: 6
and reduced numbers of field operations
Remote Sensing: Significant remote sensing
personnel. Prediction and production
tools include time-lapse seismic, gravity
optimization technologies enhance performance
surveying, electromagnetic monitoring,
and help prevent catastrophic failures.
permanent surface geophone grids and fiber
Autonomous operation systems allow field
optic downhole geophones. Time-lapse seismic
programs and production platforms to operate
alone which enables E&P companies to
like a single piece of equipment.
identify bypassed oil, map flow paths and
barriers, and monitor sweep efficiency could
Data Integration: Integrating the collection
increase incremental recovery by as much as 3
and management of data about reservoirs,
to 7 percent.
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down-hole conditions and systems will enable more reliable decisions. E-field promises
E&P organizations to get the information to the optimized asset performance through enhanced
right people at the right time. This will yield data integration and knowledge management,
better situation analyses and operating analytical tools, real-time systems, facility
strategies, employing best practices to achieve monitoring and business monitoring.
more efficient, cost-effective decisions.
Cambridge Energy Research Associate
Advantages of E-field (CERA) reports that expanding the use of new-
generation digital technologies, e-field can
The Oil and Gas industry continues to have
potentially increase world oil reserves by 125
need for increased efficiency in oil and gas
billion barrels an amount greater than either
recovery, improved productivity, and lower
Iraq's current reserves or the combined reserves
cost. The industry must capitalize on the
of Latin American countries.6 With e-fields
opportunities provided by ever more capable
capabilities, companies may be able to increase
and cost-effective technology. An important
the amount of Oil and Gas recovered from a
new result of this convergence has been an
given field by 2 to 7 percent, reduce lifting
emerging vision of the e-Field called by
costs by 10 to 25 percent and increase
different names as mentioned earlier. Although
production rates by 2 to 4 percent, reported
most Oil and Gas companies have a particular
CERA in the industry wide study conducted to
line (or two) of thinking for the e-field, most
investigate the e-field.6
agree that it is the pursuit of innovative, but
practical and cost effective, approaches to The e-field technologies that the industry
improving and potentially transforming reports as the next wave of value creation
reservoir production and management against include remote sensing, production
the background of volatile oil prices, a visualization, intelligent drilling and
weakening economy, and the "downsizing" of completions, facility automation, modeling and
the E&P workforce. data integration. To achieve this, the core will
need to be a vastly improved set of tools that
The e-field will enable next generation
will enable Oil and Gas companies to see
reservoir performance. E-field is envisioned to
reserves more clearly, plan optimal drilling and
offer decision makers a comprehensive
production strategies, and manage operations
framework for pragmatic yet forward-thinking,
more efficiently," says William Severns,
business insight that can be used in strategic
CERA's research director.
and operational planning, to ensure faster, and
265 Nigerian Society of Engineers YANKARI, 2008
In parts of the world where exploratory from back-office accounting and e-procurement
conditions are severely unregulated due to to making decisions based on modeling
overdependence on human intervention, the use software, to actually drilling, completing and
of e-field technology can prove to be of monitoring wells. Petroleum information
extreme importance. Also where strikes and technology enables engineers separated by
unprecedented human interventions can limit different time zones to monitor and drill
effective working hours, e-field technology together, share data and solutions on their
provides a potential way out. respective computer screens.

Petroleum Information Technology (PIT) In offices, the CEO, CFO and the head of
accounts payable can analyze company- wide
The Oil & Gas industry is unusual in its high
spending to find interesting patterns or trends
degree of dependence on communication and
that might indicate changes needed in the way
computer technology in order to meet its
they do business. Internal and external experts
business goals and with the enormous
from around the globe can have total asset
quantities of data which it generates and
awareness in real time. Data can be delivered
processes. Alongside this problem, the industry
instantly to the correct personnel regardless of
is addressing the changes due to new and
their location. Decisions and remedial actions
evolving working practices that the popularity
can be taken quickly to stave off problems or
of inter-disciplinary asset teams has brought
mitigate them. In Petroleum information
about. The oil industry currently spends about
technology (PIT), digitized real-time down-
3% of its total revenues on information
hole data and computeraided practices are
technology.7 The recent trend for the Oil and
evolving, giving new impetus to the industry.
Gas companies is to increase Oil & Gas
The ever increasing bandwidth and
production without increasing significant total
communication requirements of real-time
capital expenditure. Much of this capital
operations mean that the digital communication
avoidance is due to the use of information
systems from the wellhead and associated
technology, computer simulation and
support infrastructure should be of increasing
increasingly intelligent operations technology
capacity and reliability.
for enhanced and extended recovery.
The use of standard, but disparate tool sets
The oil industry is increasingly relying on
across engineering, financial and management
Petroleum Information Technology (PIT) and
disciplines requires the ability to integrate and
internet or web-based concepts in every aspect,
communicate within the desired workflow.
266 Nigerian Society of Engineers YANKARI, 2008
Recent advances in software engineering with more expensive than the agreed amount, can
the use of Microsoft .NET technology are trigger such an alarm.
making the dream of engineering modeling
E-field Model
software and finance system collaboration a
real possibility. Fundamental to the successful
The figure depicts a typical e-field model.
operation of Oil and Gas industry is secure and
Smart field provides the sensors and intelligent
robust IT.
well site equipment for each component in the
field. The software resides on a central NT or
The Digital Dashboard
application server and it pulls various types of
With the digital dashboard, it is possible for an field facilities. It can pull different brands of
oil and gas company to coordinate and integrate controller, RTU and PLC on those field
data and activities as diverse as forecasting and facilities. Data are collected in real time from
planning, procurement and invoicing, drilling field facilities to the NT server. The server can
and production. Add functions such as partner also collect data by using manual input. Using a
balancing, joint-venture accounting, land and client server system makes all the needed data
concession data, authority for drilling available from the field devices and manually
expenditure (AFEs), inventory control, well entered information to the users. Using existing
monitoring and gas marketing. Everyone from LAN and WAN technology allows the software
the CEO and CFO to the man in the field can to be used throughout the entire enterprise.
contribute data, see other data, plumb the
Consequently, operators of the field can control
expertise of others in the organization, and act
well and facility activities, analyze production,
quickly7.
and predict future results and failures using the
With this dashboard concept, companies can various modules.
see how fast they are driving and if they are
low on fuel. In some schemes, red lights
literally light up the desktop or laptop screen to
tell the employee in real time when something
is amiss. He or she then clicks on that item to
drill deeper for more detailed data, or to launch
an application that will fix the problem. Well
suddenly not producing according to plan or an
invoice entered in the accounting system that is
267 Nigerian Society of Engineers YANKARI, 2008
that everyone involved has the same
information at fingertips for collaborative
decision making. The key is to gather the right
data in the first place, and that is possible with
new fiber-optic tools in wells. An e-field model
linking the subsurface technologies in geology
and geophysics that are used before drilling
with real-time operations drilling,
completion and production throughout a field is
where the industry is headed. The model aims
at having portal to all desktops and laptops to
avoid e-mail administration, and keep all
E-field model
information trackable and accessible. The
At e-Field operations center, engineers can sit system needs to set alerts to trigger pagers or
before screens and direct or monitor well cell phones held by certain key people.
operations far away. Companys own experts
and consultants, can be instantly online to help. E-field technology pays for itself in hours by

In both cases, there is no windshield time. The reducing production cost while increasing

real-time operations center is scalable as to size production. The table below gives some gains

and complexity, and does not have to be in a of e-field technology.

huge room. An operations center is a decision


center. The model can be used in three broad Typical gains of e-field technology (source-

ways viz: An E&P Company can use real-time CERA)

operations when it has already decided where Increase in world reserve 125 billion
barrels
to drill, to optimize what happens during Oil and Gas Recovery 2 to 7%
drilling and completion. It can use the from a given field
Reduce lifting costs 10 to 25
technology when it already has a lot of wells Increase production rates 2 to 4%
producing, but needs to know how to produce
Deploying E-fields
the particular field more effectively for less
E&P organizations deploying x-field
cost and optimal hydrocarbon recovery.
technology have to address a core set of
Real-time operations help a company manage foundation objectives for success. In addition to
its asset portfolio and integrate all the data so the core values delivered from new

268 Nigerian Society of Engineers YANKARI, 2008


technologies and techniques, it is critical to turnkey solutions to optimize production and
deliver on the principles of simplification and leverage into larger industry positions. This
standardisation. Simplification of infrastructure involves the use of third party e-field
and architecture provides a common consultants and solution partners in an
implementation platform, reducing complexity unprecedented way.
of integration and exploitation, whereas
Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL) Efforts on
standardisation, both of platform and processes, E-Oilfields
leads to reduced management and operational Sometime in 2005 Chevron Nigeria Limited
overhead costs. Change invariably incurs cost. (CNL) aggressively commenced journey to e-
Adopting an adaptive approach, however, and oilfields by initiating a project called CNL
the creation of an environment capable of Escravos SCADA Project. SCADA in actual
embracing change quickly offsets the cost of sense means Supervisory Control And Data
change by providing a low latency in value Acquisition but CNL SCADA Project is purely
return. Remote Monitoring And Data Acquisition
(RMADA). It has no supervisory and control
There are three likely scenarios of the
functions.
deployment of e-field.
Scenario 1: Business as Usual e-field CNL SCADA system uses vMonitor Micro
technology, information, data and models is Wireless Monitoring System (MWMS) which
applied in an incremental way to reduce costs, configures, measures and transmits the Tubing
increase recovery and improve production, but Head Pressure (THP), Flow line Pressure
no fundamental changes are made in business (FLP), Casing Head Pressure (CHP), Gas Flow
models, competitive strategies or structural Pressure (GFP), Gas Differential Pressure
relationships. (GDP), Water Injection Pressure (WIP) and
Scenario 2: Visionary - Those Oil and Gas Flow Line Measure System (FLMS) data at a
companies who can best adopt and apply e- pre-defined interval of 10 min. The transmitted
field technologies, and concepts, will use them data is collected at the data concentrator
to gain significant competitive advantage. This (Gateway). The gateway unit is installed in the
will involve significant investment in software Radio Communications room of the production
and IT technologies along with culture and station.
management change.
Each SCADA operated platform/flow station is
Scenario 3: Vendor Relationship - A new set
provided with a vMonitor server with
of large E&P companies may use the available
TOTALACCESS SCADA application package
269 Nigerian Society of Engineers YANKARI, 2008
installed on it. TOTALACCESS poll the Hardware - vMonitor system is packaged in an
gateway and collect all the required data tags. explosion proof enclosure that can be mounted
HMI is configured to view all the SCADA in a Class-1 DIV-1 zone. It is ATEX approved
wells data. for hazardous zone installation. The hardware
unit includes:
The battery operated Wireless RTU units have
- vMBusX-S8 main Micro Wireless Monitoring
a vMBusX-S8 unit with the following I/Os:
System (MWMS) data acquisition board
- 6 AI channels
- Integrated spread-spectrum radio module as
- 1 Analog Outputs
daughterboard
- 2 Digital Inputs
- I/Os with pre-wired terminal blocks
- 2 Digital Outputs
- 7.2 V Lithium battery pack
- Battery Monitoring Channel
- 2 dB Explosion proof Omni Antenna or 5
- Temperature Monitoring Channel
dB Yagi Antenna
- LMR 400 Antenna Coaxial cable
System Architecture - vMonitor system is
- Surge Suppressor
installed on typical wellhead monitoring
- Jumper cable for the radio interface
applications in the field for wellheads in remote
Software - Chevron uses the Wonderware OPC
areas. The vMonitor system is equipped with
server as a Polling Engine for the SCADA
short-hop radio modems that can communicate
systems. The data from Wonderware is fed to
over 2 to 5 Km over the air with low RF power.
OSI/PI data historian. Wonderware poll the
The radios are point-to-multipoint transceiver
vMonitor server with TOTALACCESS.
modules. 9

Data Sampling and Polling - The


Multiple wellhead RTU monitoring system
TOTALACCESS Server polls the vMonitor
radio transceivers communicate with one single
Micro Wireless Monitoring units/Gateways
radio transceiver on vMonitor data gateway
with Modbus RTU/TCP protocol. The poll
unit. The gateway unit is a data concentrator
request made by the SCADA server to the
unit that can provide connectivity from short-
wellhead RTUs are routed through the
hop radios to long-hop radios. The Gateway
vMonitor gateway. This is typically every 10
can also communicate directly to the SCADA
minutes depending on the configuration
server. The gateway unit has Ethernet
determined by the criticality of the application.
connection for connection to the SCADA
server on Chevron LAN. The Gateway also polls the wellhead RTUs
every 10 minutes and stores the wellhead data
270 Nigerian Society of Engineers YANKARI, 2008
in local memory. Data Transfer rate between hydrotreating / sulphur recovery and limited
wellhead RTU and the gateway is 9600 bps. cracking capacity.
Typically the data transferred to the gateway is
CNL Agbami is a state of art oilfield. Agbami
limited to 20 bytes. The gateway can poll 60
when operational will be CNL first unit i-field.
such remote units in a minute. The data
Agbami has subsea production systems,
transferred from the remote Micro Wireless
including subsea trees, controls, suction piles,
Monitoring unit to the gateway happens in
subsea distribution, topsides controls, flying
0.016 sec. The rest of the time the Micro
leads and flexible jumper connection systems
Wireless Monitoring unit inside radio modem
with swivels, and manifold and tie-in systems.
is in sleep mode. The vMonitor system works
in sleep and wakeup mode. This mode of
Remote Operated Vehicles (ROVs) were used
operation helps increase the battery life of the
to install the productions systems mentioned
unit.
above. The figure below shows Agbami oilfield
with the subsea production system. Operation
CNL Agbami - is developed with a subsea
and maintenance will be by ROVs.
production system tied back to a floating
production, storage and offloading (FPSO)
ship. The Agbami has 13 topside modules,
which contain the main process and utility
systems. Weighing about 30,000t, the vessel
topsides generate 75MW of power and have
living quarters for 100 personnel.

The FPSO is moored in about 4,700ft of water,


and need at least 40 subsea wells to fully
exploit the field. It is designed to handle
250,000bpd, 450 million cubic feet of gas
production and 450,000 barrels of injected
Agbami oilfield
water a day. Also about 415 million cubic feet
of gas a day will be re-injected. Challenges of E-fields
The full potential e-fields may be constrained
Agbami is developed to be of value to less- by pressing business, technological, and
complex refiners, especially those with no organizational challenges that, unless
vacuum residuum conversion, limited
271 Nigerian Society of Engineers YANKARI, 2008
overcome, will diminish the e-fields scope and is not effective and often up productive
impact. Some challenges facing e-fields are: because: i. The operation team may be so
overwhelmed from nuisance alarm at hundreds
1. Network Security: In October 1999, a
of sites that most will be ignored out of shear
computer hacker publicly announced his
necessity. ii. CCTV equipment has to be
intention to release a report outlining how to
accessed locally and searcheda tedious and
break into power company networks and shut
often unproductive exercise
down the power grids of 30 United States
utility companies. In today technology, one E-field remote units should be safeguarded
person with a computer, a modem, and a against intrusion with integrated enterprise-
telephone line anywhere in the world can class real-time remote surveillance (online
potentially, cause an outage in an online camera) technology. Hundreds of online
facilities (Utilities, Power systems, Oil & Gas cameras can be seen across all remote sites
etc). from one browser. Any intrusion is noticed at
As described in the e-field model, corporate network speed.
networks (WAN) and e-field system are linked.
This means that the security of the Digital field 3. Environmental Issues: E-field systems,
system is only as strong as the security of the especially the outstations, have to survive in
Corporate network. Deploying network security harsh environments, both climactically and
features (Firewalls, Restrictions, Encryption, industrially with problems such as high voltage
Authentication etc) would go a long way in spikes, gas or corrosive atmosphere. Equipment
addressing e-field network security concerns. associated with e-field remote stations should
The most effective network security strategies for be weatherproof compliant. Environmental
multinationals blend regular, periodic security standards should be applied to ensure that all
assessments with continuous attention to security equipments deployed were designed for harsh
architecture and monitoring.
environment.

2. Physical Intrusion: Trained thieves and 8Conclusion


vandals breaking into remote oil facilities have The Oil and Gas industry is complex in terms
been on increase. E-field remote terminal of assets, operations, planning and capital
components (RTC) are not spared by the investment decisions. Reserves deplete and
vandals. Presently, intrusion detection alarms new discoveries are brought on stream. Process
and CCTV technology are deployed against equipment is continually required to manage
physical intrusion on oil facilities. This system changing production profiles not initially
272 Nigerian Society of Engineers YANKARI, 2008
designed for. The financial landscape of an oil decisions. The goal is to make informed
and gas company is just as complex and decisions and profitably execute them across
uncertain with the ever changing oil and gas Oil and Gas assets. This leads to substantial
prices, and multiple joint partners. The concept improvements in return on capital employed
of the e-field in oil and gas has strong (ROCE) and operating margins with the
application in linking Engineering to Business reduction of finding, developing, lifting and
streams, and maintaining communication and processing costs.
decision support with disparate asset bases and
joint partners. E-field evolution is the shift to real time
parallel processes from historic calendar-based,
The e-field concept eliminates existing silo-
serial processes for finding, developing and
based decision-making processes and enables
operating oil and gas assets. Oil and Gas
the personnel across an Oil and Gas company's
companies should therefore develop, test and
value chain to access a common set of data and
implement e-field vision in a step-fashion
models to make faster, more profitable
suited to individual cultures and goals.

273 Nigerian Society of Engineers YANKARI, 2008


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digital, AP Business Writer, February
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7. The Digital Oil Field, Oil and Gas


Investor Publication, April 2004,
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274 Nigerian Society of Engineers YANKARI, 2008