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NOVEMBER 2016

OILFIELD TECHNOLOGY

EXPLORATION | DRILLING | PRODUCTION

NOVEMBER 2016 | EXPLORATION | DRILLING | PRODUCTION

www.oilfieldtechnology.com

IN YOUR WELL?

IS

energy ChemiStry teChnoLogieS


DriLLing teChnoLogieS
proDuCtion teChnoLogieS

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Drilling Chemicals:
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production Chemicals:
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Casing Accessories:
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Drilling motors:
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Downhole Drilling tools:


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Stimulation Chemicals:
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Stemulator:
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Artificial Lift:
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29

21

Contents

November 2016

03 Comment

Volume 09 Issue 11

31 A return to roots
Eric Goergen, FEI Co, explains how digital investigation of reservoir rocks
reveals new insights, missed producible hydrocarbons, and unlocks more
accurate reserves estimations.

05 World news
10 Turning a profit in Johor
Phillip Morel, TA Cook, Hong Kong, describes how the rapid project will make
upstream operations in Malaysia more attractive.

13 Seabed seismic past, present and future


Tim Bunting and John Moses, Seabed Geosolutions, UK, provide an overview
of developments in seabed seismic technology.

35 An integrated workflow
Taha Taha, Emerson Process Management, UK, demonstrates how
production management and reservoir engineering can be linked to ensure
an integrated workflow across the lifecycle of a field.

37 Sophisticated slurry systems


Victor Huang and John Zhu, Vertechs, discuss the technologies behind
successful cementing jobs in shale gas reservoirs.

19 Conquering curved well challenges


Jason Palmer, Atlas Copco, USA, presents developments in cutter design that
ensure increased bit steerability.

21 Digitised drilling solutions


Lars Raunholt, Robotic Drilling Systems, Norway, introduces a new
generation of robotic drill floor equipment.

41

Oilfield Technology invited


Forum Energy Technologies and
Weatherford to share their insights on a variety of subsea technologies.
Their feedback covered dynamic positioning, ROV systems, flow
measurement and more.

sub sea tec nol ogy Q&A

47 Reducing fatalities from falling

25 Performance enhancing platforms


Amit Mehta, Moblize, USA, examines a cloud-based decision platform used
to optimise ROP.

Jim Martens and John Herbert, Blackhawk, USA, describe how a new launch
system component is mitigating risk in man lifting operations.

49 Ultrasonic advancements

29 Keeping risk to an all-time low


Mike Allen, Reactive Downhole Tools, UK, demonstrates how swellable
packer installation is lowering risk during downhole operations.

David Simpson, Cameron, a Schlumberger company, explains how


flowmeter accuracy helps eliminate underdosing and the need to overdose
in chemical subsea injection.

53 Advancing flow assurance


Sam Toscano, GE, USA, explains how new flow assurance technology can
counter paraffin production challenges.

Front cover
Gyrodatas MicroGuide
solution was developed to
determine ESP & Rod Guide
placement and ultimately
mitigate premature failures
in artificial lift assemblies.
This innovative service
obtains high resolution
data at 22 Hz, providing
true wellbore tortuosity and
micro doglegs at levels that
standard industry software
applications arent equipped
for. Since its launch in 2013,
the insight delivered by
MicroGuide has proven to be
extremely valuable for a wide
range of drilling, completions,
production applications,
saving companies millions
over the life of a well.

56 Fumbling the digital baton


Oilfield Technology correspondent, Gordon Cope, shows how drilling a well is
a complex business, but data management bottlenecks make it even harder.

61 Optimising data management


Andrew Duca, Honeywell Process Solutions , USA, explains how data
management is being optimised in todays IIOT-enabled digital oilfield.

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Comment

November 2016
Contact us

David Bizley, Editor

david.bizley@oilfieldtechnology.com

hanges are afoot once more in the oilfield services market;


GE has announced that it plans to merge with Baker Hughes.
Unlike the ill-fated US$28 billion deal between Baker Hughes
and Halliburton, which was finally scrapped earlier this year after
falling foul of antitrust regulators, there appear to be no such
obstacles this time around.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the deal will result in the
creation of a new company in the oilfield services sector (one with revenues of more than
US$32 billion) and will put GE in prime position to benefit from any future industry recovery. As
part of the merger, GE is to provide its oil and gas business along with US$7.4 billion through a
cash dividend of US$17.50 per Baker Hughes share. The new company will be 62.5% owned by
GE, with the remaining 37.5% being owned by Baker Hughes shareholders.1
This may sound like a good deal for Baker Hughes, but the other big players in the oilfield
services sector are likely to be less keen on the idea. According to Liam Denning, writing
for Bloomberg, the overlap in service offerings meant that the Halliburton-Baker Hughes
deal was expected to result in a shedding of business lines from both companies in order
to appease antitrust authorities. These divested assets would have been easy pickings for
other players in the market, such as Weatherford.2 This new deal is rather different, as the
only significant service overlap between GE and Baker Hughes is in artificial lift, and even
there the two companies focus on different technologies. To top it all off, the Halliburton deal
would have meant a major player leaving the market, whereas the GE merger looks set to
produce an integrated services company well-suited to bidding on projects in a low oil price
environment.3
However, the merger still has to meet regulatory approval and as the failure of the deal with
Halliburton shows, thats far from certain just yet.
For further evidence that nothing is ever guaranteed, just take a look at the oil price: as I
write this, Brent crude is back down to just above US$47/bbl. The rally that followed OPECs
unexpected announcement that it would be seeking production cuts of roughly 700 000 bpd
has ended.
Unsurprisingly, this appears to be mostly due to OPEC agreeing that production cuts were
a good idea, but not getting so far as to agree who would actually do the cutting. Analysts for
Goldman Sachs were quoted as saying, The lack of progress on implementing production
quotas and the growing discord between OPEC producers suggests a declining probability of
reaching a deal on 30 November.4 These same analysts also predict that oil will be headed
back down to the low US$40s if OPEC fails to reach an agreement.
As you might expect, OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo has a rather more
positive outlook, stating that Come 30 November, we are optimistic that we are going to
get the required supply cut that will go a long way in rebalancing this market and that hes
confident that our non-OPEC friends will also contribute.5 Lets hope hes right.

References
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

GE to Combine Oil and Gas Business With Baker Hughes - http://www.wsj.com/articles/ge-to-combine-oil-and-gasbusiness-with-baker-hughes-1477908407


GE and Baker Hughes Leave One Company Heartbroken - https://www.bloomberg.com/gadfly/articles/2016-10-31/
ge-and-baker-hughes-leave-weatherford-heartbroken
Ibid.
Oils Heading to $40 If OPEC Fails, Says Goldman - http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-11-01/goldmansees-oil-in-low-40s-if-opec-deal-fails-as-odds-diminish
OPEC Chief Says Oil Producers On Course to Deliver Supply Deal - http://www.bloomberg.com/news/
articles/2016-10-31/opec-chief-says-producers-on-course-for-supply-deal-next-month

Editorial
Managing Editor: James Little

james.little@oilfieldtechnology.com

Editor: David Bizley

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November 2016 Oilfield Technology | 3

Set your sights.


Gulf of Mexico
Declaration WAZ 3D covers 8,884 km2 (381 OCS blocks) in the Mississippi Canyon, DeSoto Canyon,
and Viosca Knoll protraction areas of the Central Gulf of Mexico and was acquired to better image
deep structural elements while improving subsalt and salt flank illumination.
Through integration with TGS underlying orthogonal Justice WAZ 3D survey, Declaration provides
broadband multi-azimuth (M-WAZ) data with offsets to 16 km. The data is being processed using the
latest TGS imaging technology including Clari-Fi and Orthorhombic migrations. Final data will be
available by December 2016.
Lets explore.

See the energy at TGS.com


2016 TGS-NOPEC Geophysical Company ASA. All rights reserved.

World news

November 2016

Douglas-Westwood predicts recovery in onshore drilling


According Douglas Westwood, the oil industry can expect to encounter a renaissance in
onshore spend through the remainder of the decade, with global expenditure increasing 10%
year-on-year, reaching US$187 billion in 2020.
This recovery is driven by a rebound in onshore drilling globally, as oil prices begin to pick
up. By 2020, DW forecast that the USA, China and Russia will represent a massive 69% of the
total onshore OFS market. The USA is the main driver of global onshore OFS trends over
2011 - 2015, 42% of total onshore OFS expenditure was attributed to the USA, driven by the
unconventional boom. After a lean few years, DW expects a recovery in onshore drilling in the
USA through the forecast period, predicting a 143% increase between 2016 and 2020 for annual
onshore wells drilled as rising oil prices bring lower-quality shale acreage back into economic
viability. This will result in a recovery in OFS spend DW expects a year-on-year growth rate of
21% for onshore OFS expenditure for the USA between 2016 and 2020, reaching US$68 billion by
2020.
Chinas growing shale industry will drive onshore OFS expenditure throughout the forecast
period. Onshore investment in China is moving away from mature oil plays and towards
gas-targeted drilling onshore drilling targeting gas in China is set to increase by 62% from 2016
to 2020. Although expenditure across all OFS service lines in China is projected to decrease in
2016, coiled tubing services will be one of the least affected (declining by 6%), due to increasing
use for well intervention and horizontal/deviated conveyancing. DW expect Chinas onshore OFS
spend to reach US$28 billion in 2020.

Production begins at
Vlaldimir Filanovsky field

Rosneft and BP form new


joint venture

Commercial production at Russias Vladimir


Filanovsky field in the Caspian Sea was
launched by Vladimir Putin.
The V. Filanovsky field, discovered
by LUKOIL in 2005, is Russias largest oil
discovery for the past twenty five years
and the second field commissioned by the
company in the Russian offshore sector
of the Caspian Sea. The fields C1+C2
recoverable reserves under the Russian
classification are estimated at 129 million t of
crude oil and 30 billion m3 of gas. The annual
oil production at the plateau is estimated at
6 million t.
Two horizontal production wells have
been drilled to date, yielding a total daily
flow rate of over 6000 t (45 000 bbls).
Construction of a third well is underway. The
sweet light crude oil lifted from the wells
is transported via a subsea pipeline to the
onshore storage facilities and subsequently
fed into the Caspian Pipeline Consortium
system for further exports.

Rosneft and BP have announced the completion


of the deal to create new joint venture Yerman
Neftegaz LLC, to conduct exploration in the
West Siberian and Yenisey-Khatanga basins in the
Russian Federation.
Final binding agreements for the new joint
venture were signed at the XX St. Petersburg
International Economic Forum (SPIEF) in June
2016.
The joint venture will focus on the onshore
exploration of two areas of mutual interest (AMI)
in the West Siberian and Yenisey-Khatanga
basins covering a combined area of
approximately 260 000 km2. Yermak
Neftegaz is owned 51% by Rosneft and
49% by BP. Beginning in this coming winter
season (2016 - 17), the joint venture will
carry out further appraisal work by starting
the drilling of the Bkl-21 well on the 2009
Rosneft-discovered Baikalovskiy field inside
the Yenisey-Khatanga AMI and will commence
seismic surveys of the Zapadno-Yarudeiskoye
block in the West Siberian AMI.

In brief
UK
A specialist team from the UK
have come together to deliver
an approved decommissioning
programme under one collaborative
offering. Integrated DECOM will offer
independent front-end engineering
and environmental solutions providing
integrated support for oil and gas
operators looking to retire redundant
facilities without the burden of an
in-house overhead.

Senegal
Woodside has announced completion
of the transaction to acquire 100% of
the shares in ConocoPhillips Senegal
B.V.
The transaction has completed
for a purchase price of US$350 million
plus net customary adjustments of
approximately US$90 million.
The acquisition includes a 35%
working interest in three offshore
exploration blocks, which contain the
SNE and FAN deepwater oil discoveries
in Senegal.

Abu Dhabi
Schlumberger has announced the
opening of a new reservoir and
rock analysis laboratory located in
Abu Dhabi, UAE. This new laboratory
is designed to support customers
in the Middle East and Asia and
complements the companys existing
regional network of laboratories
located in Dubai, Qatar, Kuwait and
Saudi Arabia.
The Abu Dhabi laboratory features
CoreFlow digital rock and fluid
analytics services for creating 3D
reservoir models to simulate flow
performance under multiple scenarios.

November 2016 Oilfield Technology | 5

World news

November 2016

Diary dates
29 November - 02 December, 2016
OSEA

Marina Bay Sands, Singapore


E: osea@sesallworld.com
www.osea-asia.com

01 - 03 February, 2017
Subsea Expo

Aberdeen, UK
E: events@subseauk.com
www.subseaexpo.com

21 - 23 February, 2017
IP Week

London, UK
E: ipweek@energyinst.org
www.energyinst.org/events/ip-week

22 - 24 February, 2017
AOG

Perth, Australia
E: aog@infosalons.com.au
www.aogexpo.com.au

06 - 09 March, 2017
MEOS 2017

Manama, Bahrain
E: fawzi@aemallworld.com
www.meos17.com

Web news
highlights
Shell and partners gear up to

commence drilling programme in


Tanzania

Female engineers breakthrough


Emerson announces agreement with
IPRES

BP announces Q3 2016 results


To read more about these articles
and for more event listings go to:

www.oilfieldtechnology.com

6 | Oilfield Technology November 2016

IKM Cleandrill secures well


mud recovery contract

N-Sea extends its fleet


with new vessel

IKM Cleandrill AS has been awarded


a contract by Wintershall Norge AS
to provide mud recovery services on
multiple offshore wells. The contract
will cover potential development drilling
campaign on Maria, as well as an option
for future exploration drilling.
The Maria development drilling from
the rig Deep Sea Stavanger is scheduled
for the H1 2017, where the wells will be
drilled using the top-hole mud recovery
technique.
IKM Cleandrill will provide the
MRR500 top-hole recovery equipment and
specialist offshore operational personnel
to undertake these services. The MRR500
is the latest generation mud recovery
technology, setting standards for safety,
reliability and cost-effectiveness.
The contract is for an initial period
of three years, with options to extend to
2023. Tom Hasler, Managing Director of
IKM Cleandrill said, This contract win is
extremely important for IKM Cleandrill
and we look forward to continuing our
excellent relationship with Wintershall in
Norway.

Subsea IMR provider, N-Sea, has


increased its fleet through the long
term charter of Siem Offshores offshore
subsea construction vessel, the
Siem Barracuda.
The vessel is equipped specifically
for subsea IMR, Survey and construction
operations, featuring twin WROVs,
moonpool deployed, a 250T AHC crane
and accommodation for 110 personnel.
Roddy James, Chief Operating Officer
at N-Sea, said: The Siem Barracuda
has added another highly efficient dive
support and survey vessel to the to the
N-Sea fleet. Its technical specifications
not only increase our capabilities across
the subsea IRM field.
This vessel increases our ability to
operate within greater parameters of
harsh weather. Additional bed space,
a large active heave compensation
crane and the option for simultaneous
moonpool deployment of ROVs and
air nitrox diving, all illustrate N-Seas
capacity for safe, sound and swift
operability within oil and gas and
renewables markets.

TGS expands Atlantic Margin 2D seismic survey


TGS has announced the expansion of its NWAM multi-client library in the MSGBC
Basin with plans to acquire more than 11 500 km of long-offset broadband 2D
seismic data as well as magnetic and gravity data, in the Republic of Guinea,
Guinea Bissau and the AGC joint exploration zone between Guinea Bissau and
Senegal. This investment is being undertaken together with PGS and in cooperation
with GeoPartners. Acquisition of this first phase of the NWAAM expansion will
commence in November 2016.
The NWAAAM2017 seismic survey has been designed to infill, extend and
complement the TGS NWAAM2012 2D survey which helped with recent commercial
discoveries in the MSGBC basin. A 12 km deep-tow streamer will enable the recording
of high quality broadband seismic data, which will image the pre-rift, syn-rift and
post-rift plays evident in this basin.
This new seismic acquisition confirms TGS commitment to the leading frontier
basin in Africa, where the company already has over 28 000 km of 2D data and over
18 000 km 2 of 3D data, commented Kristian Johansen CEO for TGS.
This TGS survey is being undertaken with the seismic vessel,
BGP Dong Fang Kan Tan 1.

Multiphase
Compressor

Introducing the worlds first subsea wet gas compressor.


Developed in collaboration with Statoil, the multiphase compressor is an industry first, designed as a
contrarotating machine specifically for pressure boosting unprocessed well streams with no requirements
for an antisurge system or upstream gas treatment.
Based on our multiphase pump technologywhich has accumulated more than 2.6 million hours of
run timethis compact and robust system enables longer step-outs, continuous operation for lower capex,
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Find out more at

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Other company, product, and service names are the properties of their respective owners.. 2016 Schlumberger. All rights reserved. 16-OSS-16740

World news

November 2016

GE & Baker Hughes to create digital services company


GE and Baker Hughes have announced that they have entered into an agreement to combine
GEs oil and gas business and Baker Hughes to create a world-leading oilfield technology
provider with a unique mix of service and equipment capabilities. The New Baker Hughes
will be a leading equipment, technology and services provider in the new oil and gas
industry with US$32 billion of combined revenue and operations in more than 120 countries.
By drawing from GE technology expertise and Baker Hughes capabilities in oilfield services,
the new company will provide best-in-class physical and digital technology solutions for
customer productivity.
Under the terms of the agreement, which has been unanimously approved by the boards
of directors of both companies, at the closing of the transaction Baker Hughes shareholders
will receive a special one-time cash dividend of US$17.50 per share and 37.5% of the new
company, GE will own 62.5% of the company. The transaction is expected to close in mid
2017.
This transaction creates an industry leader, one that is ideally positioned to grow in any
market, Oil & gas customers demand more productive solutions. This can only be achieved
through technical innovation and service execution, the hallmarks if GE and Baker Hughes.
said Jeff Immelt, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of GE. As we built the GE Oil & Gas
business, I have always been impressed by the respect our customers have for Baker Hughes.
GE Oil & Gas is a key GE business, one that fully leverages the GE Store. As we go forward,
this transaction accelerates our capability to extend the digital framework to the oil and gas
industry.

M2 Subsea gains 32
best-in-class ROV assets
A recently formed subsea services business has
secured a substantial injection of private equity
investment to acquire a fleet of 32 best-in-class
ROVs (remotely operated vehicles).
Aberdeen and Houston based M2 Subsea
Limited has attracted the investment
from a fund advised by Alchemy Special
Opportunities.
M2 Subsea is set to become one of
the largest independent providers of ROV
services globally and offer its customers safe,
cost-effective solutions for inspection, repair,
maintenance, decommissioning and light
construction.
The recently-established business
expects to create at least 50 onshore and
100 offshore jobs operating primarily in the
North Sea, Gulf of Mexico, West Africa and
eventually Asia Pacific and the Middle-East
by the end of 2017.

Exploration success for


Beach Energy

Statoil submits Trestakk


development plan

Logbaba development
wells spudded

Beach Energy Ltd has announced a


Western Flank oil discovery within the
Poolowanna Formation in ex PEL 91 (Beach
100%).
September-1 targeted oil in a structural
closure within the Namur Sandstone and
tested the McKinlay Memeber, Birkhead
Formation and Poolowanna Formation as
secondary targets. The well intersected an
8 m gross interval with oil shows within
the Poolowanna Formation. A drill stem
test was undertaken over the interval
1927.8 m to 1936.0 m and recovered
15.2 bbls of approximately 42 degree API
oil from the drill string over a 1.5 hour flow
period. The flow rate was calculated to be
210 bpd. September-1 has been cased and
suspended as a future oil producer.
This discovery validates the
Poolowanna Formation as an additional
exploration target within the ex PEL 91
permit area. Further mapping of the
Poolowanna oil play will be undertaken
through FY17, with potential appraisal and
near field exploration activities in FY18.

Statoil, on behalf of the license holders,


has submitted a Plan for Development and
Operation of the Trestakk discovery on the
Halten Bank to the minister for petroleum and
energy, Tord Lien, in Bod.
The discovery, made in 1986, contains
about 76 million boe. The project will be tied
back to the sgard A oil production vessel,
with planned production startup anticipated
in 2019.
Trestakk is a good example of what
is possible to achieve through spending
time on working toward the best concept
selection. By rethinking our concept along
with license partners and suppliers, we have
arrived at a solution that costs almost 50%
less than the original concept. At the same
time, we have been able to increase the
recoverable resources significantly, said
Torger Rd, head of project development in
Statoil.
The first investment estimates were
around 10 billion NOK, which was reduced to
7 billion NOK when the concept selection was
made in January 2016.

Victoria oil and gas has announced that its


gas producing subsidiary, Gaz du Cameroun
has spudded the development wells La-107
and La-108 in the Logbaba Gas Field located
in Douala, Cameroon. The wells are being
drilled by Savannah Oil Services Cameroon
S.A (Savannah) using Komako 1 drilling rig.
The new wells are required to meet the
growing market demand for gas in Douala,
to develop Logbaba reserves and to move
some of the 2P (Proven plus Probable)
reserves into the 1P (Proven) reserve
category. One of the wells, La-107, will twin
the La-104 well drilled in 1957; the other
well, La-108, will be a step-out well that will
be drilled into a target that is intended to
prove up more Probable reserves. Both wells
will be drilled directionally from a drilling
pad adjacent to the Logbaba processing
plant, and will be tied into this facility once
completed. The La-104 twin well is almost
vertical; whereas La-108, the step-out
well, will be drilled to intersect a target that
is about 1100 m to the south-east of the
Logbaba drilling pad.

8 | Oilfield Technology November 2016

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10 |

s a key exporter of oil and LNG, Malaysia has been hit harder
by the oil price slump than any other nation in Asia Pacific. In
particular, state-owned oil company Petronas has reported
net-losses due to market oversupply and decreased demand from
China. But despite deferring other projects, Petronas has remained
committed to continuing some, such as the US$16 billion refinery
and petrochemical integrated development project (RAPID)
complex in Johor as part of the larger Pengerang Integrated
Petroleum Complex (PIPC). In addition to RAPID, the PIPC facility
will bring six other facilities to the southern Malaysian province:
a co-generation plant, an LNG re-gasification terminal, an air
separation unit, raw water supply facility and a deepwater terminal.
Although the majority of Petronas capital investments are
going to this downstream megaproject, its success is predicted to
significantly expand the areas upstream business as well: building
the diversity in petro operations and expanding downstream
capabilities is likely to draw more investors to the region for upstream
exploration and production projects. Improving strategic industry
opportunities with new infrastructure has the potential of improving
the whole oil and gas industry value chain but only if Petronas
can make operations more controllable and efficient. This article
will outline the advantage of this downstream capital project for
the Malaysian upstream oil industry and the ways the country can
increase their operational efficiency to turn profits.

Attracting foreign experts

finance and trading epicentre capable of rivaling Singapore.


Of course, international interest in developing Malaysian oil
is not new. The peninsula is renowned for its Tapis crude,
an exceptionally high quality, extra light, low sulfur
product that has been the oil trade benchmark in
the region for years. The oils excellent quality
has reigned in foreign investors in the past
and gained international attention for
the ease in which it can be refined
to produce premium petroleum
products.
Remaining attractive
to foreign companies
is increasingly

PHILLIP MOREL,
TA COOK,
HONG KONG,
DESCRIBES HOW
THE RAPID PROJECT
WILL MAKE UPSTREAM
OPERATIONS IN MALAYSIA MORE
ATTRACTIVE.

One of the RAPID projects objectives is to create


a hub for oil storage and trading that will
transform the country as an oil and gas

| 11

important as the Tapis field ages. Although drilling in the region is


slightly easier than in other areas such as the North Sea because
the water is comparatively shallow, development in the Malaysian
continental shelf has serious challenges. The field has already
supplied 400 million bbls since the 1970s. As a mature region,
expanding the upstream business will require more advanced
exploration and production technology than in the past. Any new
exploration projects will span a greater area than they once did and
drills must be able to go even deeper. As is the case with many fields
that have been developed for decades, exploiting the current fields
with conventional drilling methods is no longer economical.
In order for Malaysia to truly stay competitive, companies need
to find a balance between the way things have been done historically
and developing new sustainable exploration and production
development strategies to process the most profitable opportunities.
Development sites that require high-technology drilling techniques
for extraction and unconventional E&P methods are complex and the
intricacies of which can present a variety of potential complications.
Although Petronas has an impressive portfolio and projects
worldwide, it can still be a great asset for Malaysian resources if
international corporations invest in development alongside the
state-owned company. Collaborating with foreign businesses can
improve the likelihood that Malaysia will have access to the latest
exploration technologies and discover new reserves. The best
example of this taking place is the Tapis project Petronas is heading in
cooperation with ExxonMobil. By using enhanced oil recovery (EOR)
technologies, the partnership plans to extract an additional 10 - 15%
of past production reserves and extend the life of the Tapis field for
another 25 years.

Glocalisation

International commodity companies are also attracted to Malaysia


because its location in the South Asian Sea is close to large energy
consuming nations in the region. However, for companies to stay
truly competitive, they must understand the country and the local
workforces way of life. Malaysia is a cultural melting pot. From lush
rainforest and indigenous tribes to skyscrapers, ancient mosques and
Hindu temples, the nation has remarkable growth opportunities for
companies who can take advantage of the diverse and vibrant state.
In the region the RAPID project is based in, Johor, oil companies
are expected to invest in local resource development. Petronas had
some local issues during the initial construction of the Pengerang
facility. The English language Malaysian newspaper, the Star,
reported that during the initial construction phase, a Chinese
cemetery needed to be moved to make way for the project. Company
leadership postponed relocating the graves until after the Qingming,
also known as Tomb Sweeping Day, a traditional Chinese festival to
honour deceased ancestors. This celebration is particularly important
for the Chinese population of the region and thanks to Petronas local
cultural sensitivity, they were better equipped to handle the situation.
The project at PIPC is expected to create tens of thousands of jobs
for people in the community from construction and downstream
activities. To reap the largest financial rewards possible, companies
need to have a keen understanding of local specificities in order to
thrive and establish themselves in Malaysia.

Improved efficiency

Not so long ago, the oil and gas industry was regarded with extreme
optimism and companies enjoyed a period of rapid expansion
and increasingly high growth. However, despite the countrys oil

12 | Oilfield Technology November 2016

and gas potential, the drop in energy prices has prompted a large
number of companies to scale back their upstream operations. Last
year, Shell Malaysia announced plans to reduce their workforce
by 20% (1300 positions) in an effort to minimise expenditures.
This was regarded as a surprisingly bold move but in the current
commodity business, bold moves are seen as necessary to keep
up with competition. Be that as it may, cutting big expenses off the
top is not going to balance the budget alone. Rather, reducing costs
and spending in a sustainable way through lean processes and
optimisation is the best way to be successful in the long run.
In the past few years, Petronas has cut funding to new deepwater
upstream projects because of high break-even costs. In order for
more large Capex projects to secure funding, producers need to
increase the prospective value and returns by focusing on operational
excellence. Committing to investing time and resources to train the
team and foster an environment of continuous improvement will
benefit the organisation, employees and shareholders. Companies
can eliminate waste (any effort spent on a work site which does not
add value or benefit an activity) by taking a lean manufacturing
business approach. If a team thoroughly understands what activities
should be eliminated, they will be able to accurately assess their
output and aim their attention at the highest priority tasks, leading to
increased craft productivity.
While development expenditures may be cut, there will still be a
budget shortfall if companies cannot bring their operational expenses
down through improved efficiency. Employing fewer people can help
cost management to some extent, but it certainly is not a decision
to be taken lightly. It is very likely that companies who have cut
full time staff, such as Shell, will have to look to contractors in the
future. Operating with contractors requires increased organisational
competence from managers and more competitive bidding skills.
Training to improve these skills for the remaining staff represents
more time and resources. A more sustainable way to compete in
the current commodity market is by making any and all potential
efficiency improvements.

Conclusion

Successful oil development is a crucial element of Malaysias


economy. In fact, oil and gas represents 20% of the nations
GDP and that revenue directly correlates with the price of Tapis
crude. Development in upstream and downstream is synergetic.
Although weak oil prices discourage increased output, RAPID is the
project to keep Malaysian energy investors interested. When the
site is up and running, it will be able to produce 30 000 bpd and
develop petrol that will meet Euro 4 and Euro 5 fuel specifications.
The two material offloading facilities are expected to handle
4 million t of cargo over the next three years and in the future, they
can accommodate very large crude carriers (VLCC) along major
international shipping lines, developing a regional hub for oil
storage, trading and oilfield services.
Overall, the Malaysian petrochemical ecosystem may be in a
lull, as others are globally, but the future looks bright. The positive
influence of downstream investment and the opportunities presented
by the countrys location makes refining oil in the area very attractive
and offers a unique opportunity to transport finished products to
regional demand centres. International cooperation has increased
technological expertise and improved the extraction techniques
for Tapis crude. If companies in the region can bring down their
operations costs to match current market commodity prices, they are
sure to see more profit in the years to come.

SEABED SEISMIC

P A S T
PRESENT
FUTURE
TIM BUNTING AND JOHN MOSES,

SEABED GEOSOLUTIONS, UK, PROVIDE AN


OVERVIEW OF DEVELOPMENTS IN SEABED
SEISMIC TECHNOLOGY.

eabed seismic surveys have been part of the hydrocarbon


exploration industry for many decades. Initial
implementations deployed cables which were populated
with hydrophones and generally used for shallow water and
transition zone projects. The cables were directly connected to a
recording vessel to power the in-sea hardware, manage the spread
and record the sensor measurements.

| 13

Barr et al, in the 1980s implemented a technique, first


postulated in 1954 by Haggerty and Backus, which uses a dual
component measurement (pressure and vertical particle velocity)
to eliminate the receiver side ghost, extending the reach of
the technique into deeper waters. The potential of the seabed
technique was further extended to make a measurement of the
shear reflectivity through the addition of horizontal particle
velocity components (four-component recording or 4-C). In
the late 1990s, the industry started experimenting with buried
seafloor cables as part of permanent seismic installations to assist
in production monitoring of the reservoir.
As well as ocean bottom cable (OBC) systems, it is possible
to make a seabed seismic measurement with an array of ocean
bottom nodes (OBN). An ocean bottom node is an autonomous
recording device with a self-contained recording system, clock
and battery. As there is no connection with the surface, there is
no limitation on length of the receiver line, no downtime due to
telemetry/power line failures and no lost time associated with
moving of the recording vessel. Ocean bottom nodes have been
in use for many decades, but their use had primarily been limited
to long-offset refraction surveys for studies of the earth tectonics.
The majority of the early node technologies were developed in
academia and were neither industrially engineered nor designed
with a focus on operational efficiency. After early development by
Statoil in the 1990s, the first seismic reflection ocean bottom node
survey was acquired in 2004 over Pemexs Cantarell Field in the
Gulf of Mexico. Ocean bottom nodes, when used for hydrocarbon
exploration, are generally deployed by remotely operated vehicles
(ROVs).

Broadband

The measurement is both low noise because the receiver


resides in a low noise environment, and has a flatter signal
response (richer in both high and low frequencies) because
the receiver ghost is separated from the primary signal using
the pressure and particle velocity components.

Unconstrained geometry

The fact that the seismic sources are decoupled from


the seismic receivers allows for much more flexibility in
geometry and accommodates both a full azimuth, long-offset
measurement and improved coverage in operationally
complex areas.

Highly repeatable seafloor receivers

Both cable and node-based systems are highly repeatable.


Receivers deployed by ROV can generally be placed within a
few metres of the planned location.

Multiple measurements

As the receiver sits on the seafloor, the horizontal particle


motion components measure the shear modes which provide
a second image of the subsurface which can complement
the P-wave image and constrain fluid property inversions.
Furthermore, as shear waves are less affected by gas
saturation, it becomes possible to image below shallow gas
features which degrade the seismic image.

However, seabed seismic surveys are currently not widely used


due to the higher acquisition costs. In general, seabed surveys are
only considered for the most challenging geophysical objectives
such as production management projects where high repeatability
Current positioning of seabed seismic in the industry
is critical or complex geologies where full azimuth measurements
It is generally accepted by the industry that seismic surveys
are required.
acquired using seabed seismic receivers deliver the optimum
Figure 1 details the results of a time and motion study to
measurement of subsurface reflectivity. This is demonstrable
understand how deepwater ROV deployed nodes historically
through a review of published papers and case studies. At the
compare to other methods of acquiring seismic reflection
measurement level, there are a number of differences between
measurements. It compares the productivity of two ROV
the seabed seismic technique and more commonly used towed
deployed deepwater node geometries (cyan and orange) with the
streamer technique:
productivity of a narrow-azimuth (NAZ) towed
streamer geometry (purple). Productivity is
assessed using relative project cost which is simply
the estimated duration of the project multiplied
by the relative estimated operational costs. The
relative project costs (y-axis) are plotted against
the image area (x-axis). The towed streamer
estimations are based on feasible project pricing.
The ROV deployed geometries are based on a
sparse node deployment, a dense source carpet
and sequential shooting. It is very obvious that,
using these assumptions, the ROV deployed
methodology is significantly more expensive than
the NAZ geometry, demonstrating what is already
well accepted in the industry. It is worth taking
some time to review the two ROV deployed node
geometries because this illustrates the historical
limitations of the seabed seismic technique. The
difference between these two node geometries is
Figure 1. Seismic acquisition productivity comparison. Graph plotting historical relative
only the source carpet density. The 50 m x 50 m
project costs against image size for two ROV deployed seafloor node geometries (cyan
source carpet productivity (orange) is estimated
and orange) and a narrow azimuth towed streamer geometry (purple) demonstrating
assuming dual source, while the 50 m x 25 m
the historical relatively high cost of deepwater node projects. By analysing the two node
geometries, it can be concluded that certain node geometries are constrained by receiver
source carpet productivity is estimated using
efficiency.
single source. The dual source option is half the

14 | Oilfield Technology November 2016

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Existing Merichem or other treating units can be easily retrofitted with FFC Plus, providing up to 150% additional capacity.
This capacity increase will not affect the existing turndown range of Merichem units and will improve the turndown of other
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source effort, but it is only incrementally more efficient than the


single source option because the operation is receiver bound
and more efficient source schemes do not improve acquisition
efficiency. To reduce the project cost for this geometry, it is
necessary to deploy and recover receivers more efficiently.

Engineering for efficiency

In recent years, there have been significant engineering efforts


around more efficient receiver deployment and retrieval in
order to address this cost differential and open seabed receiver
techniques to a wider range of seismic surveys. In parallel
with this receiver focused effort, there are additional efforts to
improve source efficiency and upgrade receiver inventories which,
depending on the required geometry, may also impact overall
survey efficiency.
These receiver focused engineering efforts can be divided into
three categories:
Re-engineering of the existing ROV deployed node technique.
Node-on-a-rope deployment.
Robotic ocean bottom nodes.

interval, water depth, environmental conditions and receiver


positioning tolerances. The node-on-a-rope solution is similar to
a traditional seabed cable system but has a number of efficiency
benefits, such as: no limitation in receiver line length, no
downtime associated with power and telemetry line breakages
and no downtime associated with recording vessel moves. While
the node-on-a-rope solution suffers from a reduction in receiver
repeatability, when compared to a ROV deployment solution,
it still provides far greater receiver repeatability that a towed
streamer solution.

Robotic nodes

Finally, a couple of players in the industry are developing robotic


nodes which can swim to and from the pre-plot receiver location
without the need for a separate deployment vehicle. Intuitively,
one thinks of this as a highly attractive solution and when
considering the robotic developments outside the oil and gas
industry, such as driverless cars, technically achievable. However,
at a detailed technical level, there are two challenges which while
not insurmountable, do require further focus:

Re-engineering of the existing ROV deployment model.

Node weight in water

Autonomous nodes, in which each receiver is a self-contained


package, were introduced to the exploration and production
(E&P) industry approximately 12 years ago. More recent
engineering efforts have followed strong engineering protocols
utilising the latest battery technology and low powered
electronics, resulting in more robust and compact products.
The robust engineering results in fewer node failures, but
more significantly, the compact node has a direct impact on
deployment and retrieval efficiency; smaller nodes allow for
more nodes per container, more nodes per deployment basket
and more nodes per ROV tray. Figure 2 details three vintages
of Seabed Geosolutions nodes plotted to scale detailing the
development of the node over the last 15 years.
In parallel with the efforts to engineer more robust units,
the ROV deployment hardware and processes have been under
thorough review and upgrade. This has resulted in operations
which utilise two ROVs in parallel, upgraded ROVs with higher
power, ROV trays which carry more nodes and new operational
best practices.

Node-on-a-rope deployment

The industry has also investigated methods to deploy nodes other


than ROVs. One such method, which is highly efficient in shallow
to medium water depth, is the node-on-a-rope method in which
autonomous nodes are attached to passive ropes. The node
attachment mechanism can be fully automated to accommodate
fast deployment speeds of up to 3.0 knots depending on node

In order to minimise battery consumption during the transit


to and from the pre-plot location, it is desirable to make
the robotic node neutrally buoyant (or low weight in water).
However, from a geophysical integrity perspective, the node
should have some weight in order to couple with the sea-floor.
In shallow water, this is not a huge concern because the
node Does not need to dive and surface large depths, but in
deepwater, this is a limiting issue.

Node positioning

It is a relatively simple process to track where the robotic


node is as it travels to and from the surface by using surface
vehicles with acoustic positioning devices. However, this does
not fully solve the problem because the robotic node needs to
know where it is, requiring communication with the surface.
USBL systems will solve this but can only multiplex a limited
number of signals, restricting the number of swimming nodes
at any one time.

Additionally from a practical perspective, it is likely that an


ROV will still be required on the crew to recover robotic nodes that
fail while transiting or while on the seafloor.

Hybrid robotic nodes basket assisted robotic nodes

In conjunction with Saudi Aramco, Seabed Geosolutions is


engineering a hybrid robotic solution that does not suffer from
these interim technical obstacles. In this hybrid robotic solution,
the nodes are carried to and from the surface in a basket as
with normal ROV operations, but are then launched from an
underwater vehicle/or directly from
the basket traversing the pre-plot line.
This process limits the transit duration
of the robotic node and does not require
the robotic node to dive or surface.
Consequently, the node can be engineered
to couple well with the seafloor. The
underwater vehicle is positioned using
a USBL acoustic system and is also
equipped with USBL transducers to
position and guide the robotic nodes.
Figure 2. The evolution of deepwater nodes. Three deepwater ocean bottom nodes displayed to scale
Using these systems, it is possible to
which have decreased in size over time, directly impacting ROV deployment efficiency.
deploy/retrieve a high number of receiver

16 | Oilfield Technology November 2016

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WITH THE EVO-RED BRIDGE PLUG

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On a typical subsea operation, an Evo-RED


bridge plug can reduce wireline runs from
eight to one, which can save over 24 hours
of rig time. It can be remotely opened and
closed without the need for intervention or any
control lines to surface, increasing reliability
and reducing uncertainty. It also can simplify
both intervention and completion applications
by removing wireline runs.
Every step of the way, we get results together.

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lines simultaneously. As the node positioning device and robotic


node are at the same depth, positioning becomes a much simpler
planar problem.

in deployment rate associated with a more compact node and the


re-engineered ROV model with an expectation that deployment
rates will increase by a factor of three. For the same geometry,
the hybrid robotic node solution has the potential to deliver
Where will seabed seismic be positioned in the
an additional 30% improvement in deployment efficiency, but
future?
it should be noted that this deployment model will be most
Figure 3 details the improvement in deepwater node deployment
beneficial with denser receiver grids where deployment rates in
efficiency in terms of the number of nodes that can be deployed
excess of 600 nodes/day can be expected.
per day assuming a 400 m x 400 m rx grid and 1500 m water
Figure 4 details a further effort to evaluate node technology
depth. Both the ongoing improvement associated with the ROV
costs against towed streamer costs using the same approach as
deployment method of industrially engineered nodes and the
referenced in the introduction but this time modelling the latest
potential improvement from the basket deployed robotic node
seabed deployment techniques. For control purposes, two streamer
solution are evident. There is a clear and significant improvement
geometries which detail the high and low cost extents of the towed
streamer solution are graphed using dashed lines.
While none of the evaluated node solutions
cost less per square kilometre than a towed
streamer narrow azimuth solution, they are
all more efficient than a towed streamer rich
azimuth solution that offers similar trace
density and azimuthal sampling.
Good engineering practices during node
manufacture and design realise significant
uplift in project efficiency and bring node
survey costs below the most expensive
towed streamer costs, even for ROV
deployed surveys (upper range of Manta/six
source shaded area).
If the operator is willing to accept the
compromises in receiver repeatability
associated with node-on-a-rope solutions,
there is potential for full azimuth OBS to
approach towed streamer narrow azimuth
costs (lower range of Manta/six source
shaded area).
The anticipated uplift associated with
Figure 3. Deepwater sparse node deployment rates. Bar graph detailing the increase in node
robotic nodes, even in a hybrid solution
deployment efficiency for the various deepwater ROV node technology options based on
in which robotic nodes are supported
established deployment models and a 400 m x 400 m node grid in 1500 m water depth.
by a basket, will also drive project costs
down and potentially challenge the towed
streamer market.

Conclusion

Figure 4. Graph comparing relative project cost against image size for two towed streamer
technologies (narrow azimuth towed streamer orange dashed line and rich azimuth towed
streamer dark blue dashed line) and node technologies (solid lines). Assuming the latest
technology, node solutions are much more competitive against towed streamer whilst
delivering improved image and attribute quality.
18 | Oilfield Technology November 2016

The ocean bottom seismic solution has


traditionally only been considered for a small
proportion of the total seismic market even
though there are aspects of the measurement
which are highly desirable. As the demands
of the industry become more challenging
due to high cost reservoir exploitation
(deepwater, HPHT, more challenging reservoir
characteristics) and exploration in more
complex areas (sub-salt, fracture zones, basalt,
etc.), oil companies have challenged providers
to acquire higher quality, more cost-efficient
seismic data. Ocean bottom seismic contractors
have responded with a new focus on resolving
the factors limiting the efficiency of the seabed
seismic solution. Ongoing engineering efforts,
combined with operational innovation, have
the potential to make a step change in seabed
seismic efficiency and cost-effectiveness
thereby opening up the seabed seismic
solution to a much larger proportion of the
contemporary seismic market.

Jason Palmer,
Altas Copco, USA,
presents developments in
cutter design that ensure
increased bit steerability.

RVED
G CU
UERIN
ES
CONQ
LENG
CHAL
WELL

odays well plans continue to be increasingly deeper, longer and more technically challenging
than ever before. In addition to the challenges that have come to be expected, the precipitous drop
in the commodity price has cash-strapped operators asking for pricing relief, as well as service and
performance improvements from contractors and service providers.
When discussing opportunities to save money during the drilling of a well, the curve and lateral
sections are the make or break areas of concern. Even at discounted rig rates, an unexpected trip
during the curve or lateral due to inability to keep tool face, or slow rate of penetration can be
extremely costly.
In an effort to minimise lost time in these sections, Atlas Copco worked with input from
directional drillers to develop their COMMANDER PDC Series bits, are designed to offer
improved directional control and steerability, high ROP, and improved cutter durability due
to the development of their DARK MATTER PDC Cutters.

Steerability, stability, and ROP

In many cases, finding a bit that offers both good steerability and good ROP is a
difficult proposal. In theory, more blades offers more stability and by extension
better ability to control and steer the bit. However, more blades typically also
means more cutter contact with the formation, which equates to slower drilling.
The COMMANDER PDC Bit Series addresses this problem by using the
cutter layout and density used on a five-bladed bit, on a seven-blade bit.
This new bit utilises a discontinuous blade design to allow tweaking of
the cutter layout on the blades to deal with abnormal downhole drilling
conditions.
Traditional straight bladed bits arrange PDC cutters as tightly as
possible on the blades. These standard bits can be easily disrupted
by various dynamic instabilities that are typically present in
all drilling, but especially in directional or lateral drilling. The
COMMANDER series allows the cutters to be strategically
placed on the blades to deal with these instabilities, while
still offering high ROP.
The company uses software to model how
its bits will function under a variety of drilling
challenges such as rotating off centre axis, or

| 19

abnormal force absorption. Modelling of this bit series shows up to 35%


improvement in stability in off centre axis drilling situations, and 29%
improvement in stability for abnormal force absorption.

Bit gauge length for improved steerability: longer or


shorter?
During the development of the bits, company engineers worked with
directional drillers in the Permian and Bakken plays to determine what

was needed or required for maximum bit control and steerability. Just like
many topics in the industry, directional drillers ideas and opinions varied
widely.
One topic that elicited a wide range of opinions was gauge length. Is it
easier to control and steer a bit with a short gauge or a long gauge length?
Atlas Copco applications engineers agreed with some merits of both sides
of this argument. Due to the wide range of drilling conditions, equipment,
and geological uncertainties, there are applications where both options
have advantages.
A critical design element to any PDC bit, especially when drilling
directional and horizontal wells, is the gauge length of the bit. Some feel
that a short gauge is more responsive to steering for increasing build rates,
while others like the drilling stability and hole quality of a longer gauge bit.
The current trend seems to be toward shorter gauge length, but there are
still those who prefer a longer gauge length, specifically when using rotary
steerables.
Atlas Copco has designed their bit series with gauge lengths from
1 in. all the way to 4 in. to accommodate a wide variety of drilling
applications and preferences.

Deep leached cutters: minimising risk of cutter


failure during deep drilling

Figure 1. 6 in. S713DY COMMANDER PEC series directional bit, with a


1 in. gauge (left) and a 4 in. gauge (right).

The manufacture of PDC cutters requires cobalt to act as a binder for the
diamond grit used in the manufacturing process. Cobalt is the key catalyst
during the sintering process, which creates the diamond to diamond
bonds of a PDC cutter, and also joins the diamond layer to a tungsten
carbide substrate so the cutter can be brazed to the body of a drill bit.
Although cobalt is needed to create a PDC cutter, it comes with a
downside: decreased thermal stability. Heat generated by friction at
the cutting edge of a PDC can be very high (750C or higher), especially
when drilling in hard, abrasive formations. Cobalt that remains in the
diamond layer from the sintering process expands at a different rate than
the bonded diamond, and expansion of this remaining cobalt can cause
diamond to diamond bonds to break, leaving drillers with a broken cutter
that will not drill.
Leaching is the process of removing cobalt from the surface (usually
the top 100 to 800 microns) of a PDC cutter. Removing the cobalt improves
the thermal stability of a cutter as without the presence of cobalt, there is
reduced risk of thermal failure.
Cutters used in deep curve and lateral sections should give the best
chance of hitting TD without unnecessary trips, or reduced ROP due to
damaged cutters. Because the COMMANDER PDC bits are used in curve
and lateral sections of the well (where most operators already have
a requirement for the use of deep leach cutters), DARK MATTER PDC
cutters are also offered. This cutter has cobalt removed from the top
400 to 800 microns from the cutter surface area, and significantly deeper
from around the outer edge since the highest temperatures can be seen in
this area of the cutter during drilling.
Figure 2 shows the cutters when tested against a premium quality
USA made non-leached cutter on a vertical turret lathe (VTL) at 50 passes,
100 passes, and 150 passes.

Conclusion

Figure 2. Deep leached dark matter cutters (left) compared with premium
non-leached cutters (right).

20 | Oilfield Technology November 2016

The curve and lateral section of todays wells will continue to challenge
operators to find new ideas and technologies to limit risk and to improve
on current drilling practices. While the current downturn has many
companies keeping their heads down in order to just keep on keeping on,
it is also a great time to look for simple ways to increase efficiencies. Now
is the time for companies to keep their heads up and experiment with new
things. New technologies have gotten the industry where it is today, and
will continue to fuel industry growth as the downturn turns into an upturn
and beyond.

Lars Raunholt,
Robotic Drilling Systems,
Norway, introduces a new
generation of robotic drill
floor equipment.

Figure 1. Test of the full robotic drill floor at RDS workshop in Sandnes, Norway. The system consists
of a drill floor robot, electric roughneck, Multi-size elevator and robotic pipe handler.

DIGITISED
DRILLING SOLUTIONS

he drilling industry is talking more and more about


how digitalisation will be the key factor behind getting
exploration and production prices down to a level
that can match the current oil price level. However, in order to
introduce digitalisation, the industry has to develop the right
tools. Digitalisation will be hard to obtain with conventional
semi-automated, hydraulic equipment mixed with numerous
manual operations. RDS believes that the right tools are precise
and flexible, electric equipment, which is easy to integrate.
Robotic Drilling Systems AS (RDS) has developed a drill-floor
solution consisting of robotic technology for fully unmanned
drill floor operations. The system handles pipe and tools and the
technology can be applied both on pipe-deck and drill-floor on
all drilling structures (new builds and retrofit) for both land and
offshore installations.
The robotic control system ensures fast and precise work
operations between the electric drill floor machines. The benefits

include faster drilling operations, a high level of safety due to


unmanned operations, and lower installation, maintenance and
operations costs.
RDS technical partner and largest shareholder is drilling
contractor Odfjell Drilling. The development has been supported
by Statoil, Shell, ConocoPhillips, the Norwegian Research Council
and Innovation Norway together with investors.

Technology

In order to achieve a fully electric and robotic drill floor for fast,
seamless and human-free operation of pipe and tools, three major
innovations had to be brought forward:
Electric drill floor machines, such as the electric roughneck
and electric pipe handler, to allow for precise operation.
A dynamic robot control system to allow for flexible
operations.
A drill floor robot to replace manual operations.

| 21

In order to achieve a seamless system with good motion


control, the conventional hydraulic drill floor machines were
replaced with a new generation of electrical machines and robots.
In addition to avoiding an HPU, the electric system is easier to
install and integrate on the rig. As standard electric motors and
gears are used, the reliability will potentially be higher and the
energy consumption will be significantly lower.
In order to control the robots, a new software platform was
developed to allow for cooperation between robots and easy
re-programming if the drilling programme suddenly needed
to be changed. The commands to the machines are brought to
a higher level, where the operator tells the robot what to do
(e.g. insert a new stand) and not how to do it. The robot will
program itself without interrupting a programme that is already
running and operate together with the other machines (or robots)
through an embedded anti-collision system. The control system
allows the robots to operate autonomously, with the options
for semi-automatic and remote control, if required during

special operations. This re-defines the role of the driller, so that he


can focus on the important drilling tasks and not on pipe and tool
handling.
A high priority area for operators and drilling contractors is
to get people out of harms way on the drill floor. Even on high
spec rigs, today only the handling of drill pipe is semi-automated
and hands-free. As soon as it comes to other types of pipe, such
as BHA or casing, or tools and subs, the handling becomes more
cumbersome and time-consuming involving manual operations
and change-out of handling equipment. With a drill floor robot,
with up to 1500 kg handling capacity, the handling of lifting subs
and safety clamps will be fast and safely carried out by the robot.
By introducing a seamless and consistent robotic drill floor
system, a number of key drill floor operations will potentially
be carried out much faster by using conventional equipment,
including:
Tripping (early studies indicate consistent slips-to-slips time
of less than 1 minute).
BHA MU/BO and other assemblies.
Handling of casing, tubing, liners and screens.
Handling of completion components.
P&A operations, pick up & lay down drill pipe.

Early studies indicate a potential saving of


up to 40 rig days per year for a rig (depending
on how much of operation time is considered
critical), including non-productive time. Several
thousand manual operations will be avoided.
In addition to saved rig time, improved
HSE and reduced Opex, a full robotic system
provides other benefits, such as less downtime,
faster installation, lower noise, reduced energy
consumption and lower CO2 emissions.
RDS is in the process of workshop testing
the robotic drill floor system including the
co-operation between the machines/robots.
In general industry, robots have been used
for decades in the manufacturing process.
The oil and gas industry has so far been very
conservative. That is all about to change.
With the introduction of a new machine
to the market, the drill floor robot makes it
possible to automate and make all pipe and tool
operations on the drill floor hands free, and not
only pipe handling.
By giving the drill floor robot the right tools,
such as grippers, spinners, clamping tool and
other handling tools, all the drill floor operations
can be made automatic and hands-free. The drill
floor robot can change between the various tools
precisely and within a matter of seconds. The
inductive interface to the tool makes it possible to
transfer power and communication and thereby
have smart tools for making measurements or
filming for inspection purposes.

Figure 2. The worlds first drill floor robot was installed at the Ullrigg test rig in Summer 2015.

Main features

Photo 3: Illustration of the drill floor robot to be installed at Deepsea Atlantic in-between the aux and
Figure 3. Illustration of the drill floor to be installed at Deepsea Atlantic in-between the aux
main well centers in order to serve both well centers.

and main well centres in order to serve both well centres.

Piloting of the robotic pipe handler at a US land rig:

In July 2016, RDS announced that it has entered its first commercial contract outside Europe for
delivery of a single robotic pipe handler for a US land rig. The delivery to Nabors is planned for
December 2016.
22 | Oilfield Technology November 2016
Test of the full robotic drill floor system at the Ullrigg Test Centre, Stavanger:

Fully electric, seven axis robot with 1500 kg


capacity.
Self-contained with HW controls built-in for
easy installation.

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Low maintenance requirement due to use of standard electric


components and oil-filled gears.
High speed and accuracy.
Fast robotic tool exchange.

Main benefits

Reduces manual operations.


Fast handling tools and subs.

Robotic pipe handler

The RDS pipe handler is a flexible nine degrees of freedom robot


where the lower boom can operate between horizontal and
vertical and therefore handle tubulars from horizontal to vertical
without a separate dedicated HTV machine. Protectors are not
needed. The pipe handler robot can change its handling tools,
e.g. gripper or spinner-gripper. With its unique spinner-grippers,
the robotic pipe handler can spin pipe directly into or out of the
stick-up, and thereafter the roughneck only has to do the make
and break operation.
When handling stands, the robotic pipe handler consists of
a lower and an upper boom. These two booms can be operated
separately, for instance thereby enabling offline stand building
without interfering with the drilling operation.

Main features

Fully electric, nine axis robot for pipe and casing.


Self-contained with HW controls built-in for easy installation
and integration.
Low maintenance requirement due to use of standard electric
components and oil-filled gears.
Capable of spinning stands.
Built-in HTV capability.
3500 kg capacity on each pipe handler boom.

Main benefits

Fast pipe handling including spinning operations.


Fast and automatic HTV operation.

Main benefits

Precise connections.
Replaces casing crews/tongs.

Multi-size elevator

The Multi-size elevator is designed to handle all the necessary pipe


dimensions for drilling large sections of the well. The inserts are
shifted remote controlled, when new size objects will be handled.
The system co-operates with the pipe handler to ensure a fast and
safe transfer of objects, through the weight negotiation feature
of the robotic control system. Through this feature, the elevator
measures the weight of the stand or assembly. When shifting
inserts, the elevator will allow for time savings of 5 - 10 minutes per
shift.

Main features

Remotely controlled change of inserts.


Can be tilted 90.
Retro-fit-able on existing top drives.
Automatic operation.
Closed design for avoiding risk when opening elevator. Enters
from the top of the pipe.
Fail-safe insert design.
350 T capacity (with option for higher capacity).

Main benefits

Saves shifting of inserts of five minutes per shift.


Eliminates manual operations when shifting inserts.

Commercialisation

After having workshop tested the industrialised version of


the robots, RDS is now in the phase of commercialising the
technology. Three pilot projects are on-going.

Offshore piloting of the drill floor robot

The robotic roughneck is the worlds first fully electric


roughneck. This gives full control of all parameters. The torque
wrench and the backup-tong can be individually height adjusted
to handle bottom hole assemblies and other challenging make
and brake operations. The robotic roughnecks capability to
handle high torque (270 kNm) eliminates the need of manual
tongs.
The electric roughneck can be used for various sizes of both
drill pipe and casing.

The company has entered an agreement for the first offshore


installation of the drill floor robot on the semisubmersible
Deepsea Atlantic owned and operated by Odfjell Drilling. The
Deepsea Atlantic is currently on a three year development
drilling contract at the Johan Sverdrup field offshore Norway.
The installation is planned for April 2017, and the trials will
focus on automated, fast and hands-free handling of subs, dog
collars and manual slips on the drill floor. The business case
includes faster operations and removing up to 1000 manual
operations.
The pilot project is financed by Statoil as operator and
Odfjell Drilling and supported by DEMO 2000, Statoil R&D,
Total R&D and ENI Norge R&D.

Main features

Piloting of the robotic pipe handler at a US land rig

Electric roughneck

Fully electric with 270 kNm capacity.


Self-contained with controls built-in for easy installation and
integration.
Low maintenance requirement due to use of standard electric
components and oil filled gears.
Automatic operation.
Triple grip torque wrench (equal distributed) with high
accuracy control.
120 total rotation per grip. Evenly distributed torque applied
continuously.
Possibility for high distance between wrenches.

24 | Oilfield Technology November 2016

In July 2016, RDS announced that it had entered its first commercial
contract outside Europe for delivery of a single robotic pipe handler
for a US land rig. The delivery to Nabors is planned for December
2016.

Test of the full robotic drill floor system at the Ullrigg test centre,
Stavanger
Together with IRIS, RDS recently received a US$2.5 million grant
from the DEMO 2000 programme for long term test of the full
robotic system at the Ullrigg Test Rig including connection to the
drilling control system and interaction with drilling optimisation
software, as e.g. DrillTronics.

Amit Mehta, Moblize, USA,


examines a cloud-based
decision platform used to
optimise ROP.

Performance enhancing

PLATFORMS
O

ilfield innovations, many of which can be beneficial


to operators at any time, are especially advantageous
during bust cycles when saving time and money
becomes paramount. With the price of oil having dropped
below US$30/bbl during early 2016, major producers declaring
bankruptcy and US energy company valuations in an over
US$1 trillion free fall since mid-2014, now is a highly opportune
time to enhance well planning and construction operational
efficiencies.
When the current downturn began, Moblize was prepared
to assist drilling engineers. Its team introduced an operational
innovation that has changed downhole economics on more than
7500 wells.

Data analytics platform

The impetus for developing a unique data analytics software


platform actually occurred prior to the current downturn and
was initiated to solve a challenge which has become more
prevalent with computerisation as an increasingly integral cog
in drilling operations. Specifically, a team wanted to make much

| 25

higher quality decision-making capabilities available to drilling


engineers so they could drill better, quicker, with greater efficiency
and generate optimal productivity.
To ensure that a user-appropriate solution would emerge,
the team talked with engineers first. That way they could best
understand what the users actually wanted to best do their job
during well planning and construction, instead of developing
the software platform from only a technology perspective with
primarily a bells and whistles effect, a theme of many solutions
today. Consequently, the R&D result was the ProACT All-in-One,
a real time decision-making software platform. Its key feature is
the capability which allows drilling engineers to get actionable
insights and make better, faster smart decisions as a team.
This immediacy means that an engineer can not only
analyse well performance in real time but also conduct well
planning comparisons instantly, compared to tedious weeks
traditionally. Instantly versus weeks is no minor change for the
daily engineering workflows, of course, but represents a complete
redefinition of a drilling engineers job. Expressed in a technology
context, the platform effectively merges advanced analytics with
machine learning to reduce engineers data to decision loops.
Given the geographic sprawl of oil industry rigs, company
offices and field personnel, it was critical that this software gave
engineers 24/7 accessibility to data and for collaboration with
others in the organisation. Accordingly, all a user needs is any
web-accessible device e.g., a smartphone, a laptop, a tablet or, if
working in an office, a PC.
Gone are the days of drilling engineers working manually
on-site to aggregate data from multiple sources, then
painstakingly preparing data for analysis, building calculations in
Excel or other tools and visualisations via Powerpoints or other
tools. In addition to removing all the make-work of aggregating,
data by handling that task automatically, engineers can now also
escape from doing their planning and/or decision-making with
many different tools. ProACT also removes workflows to prepare
data. In other words, eliminating the manual and the superfluous
were key objectives of the platform.
Previously, whenever the time-intensive process was
completed, all the results eventually were in front of the drilling
engineer for decision-making but were not available quickly or
to anyone else instantly. Today, using ProACT, office and site
personnel can make better, more informed decisions through
mutual input and agreement electronically.

Case study
Problem
The why and how of the ProACT platform may be best illustrated
via one of many workflows through an analogy. Imagine a motorist
is driving between two cities about 160 miles apart. He decides to
drive at 80 mph constantly to reach the destination in 2.3 hours as
it has been proven many times via past patterns of driving along
the same highway. However, in this particular case, surprisingly
when the driver finally reaches the destination it has taken him
3 hours versus the planned 2.3 hours. After the fact analysis
reveals that the driver actually drove sometimes at 80 mph but for
a stretch of 100 miles he drove 65 mph (15 mph slower). Ideally, it
would have been helpful to have known he hit 65 mph for a period
of time, to get in touch with him, and to discuss and see what best
could be done to drive at 75 mph if not 80 mph, but it was too late.
In oil and gas, the driver is the driller, the destination is the
wells total depth (TD) and the start is the spud of well. Every day

26 | Oilfield Technology November 2016

during morning meetings, or before going for the day, the driller
and drilling engineers agree on a plan of action i.e. based on
analysis, past patterns of wells drilled in the area and engineering
studies they should drill at X ft/hr for the next 2000 ft (distance).
This is a very objective goal set; however, the reality is that
plans/conditions are very dynamic during drilling and subjective,
which is only learned after the fact when the objective is not met
i.e., during next day morning meeting.
Switching to a specific example to further illustrate the point:
a company drilling in the Permian region realised they were
leaving considerable money on the table due to a workflow of
acting after the fact rather than acting now. The engineers
well plan based on past best wells drilled in the area that the
driller can drill at 180 ft/hr through a zone for next 12 hours in the
lateral only arrive at the office the next day and realise they have
only drilled through same zone with four hours to go using same
BHA/same conditions. Total cost of this inefficiency resulted in a
loss of nearly US$30 000 for the entire well, a huge cost in todays
market condition.

Solution
The company worked with the operator to identify all the best
sections drilled by offset wells in the nearby region over the last
couple of months. Once the wells were identified (in this particular
case, four wells were identified) the platform automatically
stitched the wells to create a best composite well.
Once the best composite well was available in the platform,
the active well performance was automatically compared to best
composite well by the platform using machine learning algorithms
with the goal of achieving best composite well performance and
increasing average ROP of the active well.
The driller/drilling engineers were all on board and decided
to analyse the results and recommendations from the software
platform to move into a more act now category rather than after
the fact. In this case, the engineer decided to receive notifications
from the system directly when the active well ROP fell 20% below
the best composite well over a 75 ft interval. The engineering
team quickly realised some false positives and hence decided to
leverage Moblizes Real Time Operations Centre (RTOC) to receive
the proactive notifications on deviation.
This additional step allowed engineers at the RTOC to vet the
machine-guided recommendations and remove false positives
from the system. Now, the operator received 24/7 advanced
notification (in this case four - five per active well) which would
then initiate the engineers/drillers/field crew to log in to the
platform from anywhere, anytime and have a quick 10 minute
call to determine call to action. This machine and human
combination of proactive notifications enabled engineers to
instantly analyse the deviations and take corrective measures.

Benefit
Acting on 20% deviations from best composite ROP every 50 - 100 ft
in real time through alerts from 24/7 monitoring team on this well
resulted in the saving of US$80 000 and increased average ROP on
this well and next set of wells resulting in US$100 000 plus savings
for the next two wells. As soon as the company achieved the best
composite well performance a new benchmark was established and
the process repeated to continuously improve the ROP.

Compared to spreadsheets

When companies have recognised that this cloud-based real time


decision platform could improve their drilling operations, key

considerations that have factored into their decision, compared


to using spreadsheets or other planning and/or engineering tools,
include:
BHA analysis: analysing the best BHAs from offset wells;
picking best performance so that the goal is achieved while
minimising trial and error.
Tripping rates: analysing offset well and rig tripping speeds;
setting targets prior to spud to maintain high performance
from day one.
Connection times: analysing offset well and rig connection
times; setting targets to maintain high performance from day
one.
Torque and drag: Utilising automated TAD on historical wells
for analysis; knowing factors and preparing for potential
disaster.
Best composite well: building best composites prior to spud
for drilling parameter roadmaps; utilising best composite for
DvD & KPI performance comparisons.

Economic advantages

Whether the current global bust cycle will end sooner or later
is open to speculation by industry executives and financial
analysts. Meanwhile, however, wells continue to be drilled, even
if at a reduced rig count and economics remain a critical factor.
Most likely this will mean that operators will maintain an even
tighter focus on saving time and money. With ProACTs ability
to immediately reduce well planning from weeks to days, it is
no surprise that the platforms functionality has already been
utilised on more than 7500 wells by demonstrating both enhanced
decision-making attributes and time and cost savings.

How important are the quality choices by drilling engineers


today? The decision-making of the all-in-one platform is helping
companies reduce their Capex expenditures by as much as
US$400 000 per rig within 80 days or less. For example, eliminating
unnecessary trips from hole sections, increases the odds of
subsequent run success and translates to savings of as much
as US$50 000 per well. By selecting the ideal BHA to reduce
slide time, maximise ROP and achieve build/hold rates, savings
typically add up to US$50 000 per well. By avoiding stuck pipe and
landing casing off the bottom, and avoiding remedial NPT and
skipping wiper trips at TD frequently total more than US$100 000
per well.

Conclusion

Oilfield innovations are sometimes a modest success, having a


niche impact. Others, such as ProACT, which incorporate features
that can change how a drilling engineer works each day, are more
successful.
As this cloud-based decision platform continues to be utilised,
the results are clear. Instead of using outdated workflows and
spreadsheets or four engineering tools a day to make decisions
in real time or for post-well analysis, engineers can now make
decisions just like consumers exploit smartphones in their daily
lives. This not only allows for savings in time and money but,
most importantly, also helps ensure that whether individually or
collaboratively, the best decisions are made on every well in a
timely fashion guided by machine recommendations. At the well
site or in each companys financial department, well performance
is what ultimately counts on the balance sheet.

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KEEPING RISK

TO AN ALL-TIME LOW
Mike Allen, Reactive Downhole Tools, UK, demonstrates how swellable packer
installation is lowering risk during downhole operations.

he current climate, coupled with maturing fields, means


that operators in the North Sea are forced to complete
their wells at the lowest possible cost. This is where
simple, robust downhole equipment solutions come in. The
bottom line is that operators today must increase return from
reduced investment; put simply, they need to see value for
money.

Open and cased-hole completion systems

Cased-hole operations involve running casing or liner to be


cemented in place. The success of the job relies on the quality
of the cement design and placement, which requires testing and
repair of any communication problems that are found, before
being tested again. Once the cement integrity is confirmed, the
cement is then perforated to make the connection between
the wellbore and the formation. The perforation intervals
can be positioned accurately, which makes for good control
of production, although it relies heavily on the quality of the
cement to prevent flow behind the liner.
Completions are considered to be open-hole when no
casing or liner is cemented in place across the production
interval. To ensure there is no unwanted fluid flow, packers
are installed at certain intervals along the production tubing.

Many configurations are available, from simple pre-perforated


liners to complex smart wells, engineered to address specific
reservoir challenges. The development of open-hole completions
allows solutions to be designed for horizontal production
intervals, where cemented installations are more expensive and
technically more challenging.
Although cased-hole and open-hole operations differ, the
objective remains the same isolation must be achieved. The
simplest most robust way to ensure isolation is through the use
of swellable packers.

The solution

As a provider of bespoke open and cased-hole completion


systems, Reactive has been developing swellable elastomers
since 2010. The company works with over 75 individual swelling
elastomer compounds, each with different characteristics,
which allows for specific compounds to be tailored to individual
reservoirs. This ensures that each deployment provides the
optimum solution for a particular well, wherever it is in the
world.
Swellable packers work by expanding when in contact with
water, oil or other downhole fluids. It is this swellable nature
that allows the packer to deal with the irregular fractures and

| 29

long lengths of wellbore, giving a complete seal between the


outside of the production tubing and inside of the casing, liner or
wellbore wall.
Two open-hole alternatives to swellable packers are
mechanical and inflatable packers. Mechanical packers are set
with running tools, hydraulically or with tubing movement,
whereas inflatable packers use fluid pressure to inflate a long
cylindrical bladder of reinforced rubber to set the packer and
create a seal. The challenge with these options is that unless
the well is drilled close to gauge and is relatively smooth with
minimal fractures, they may struggle to fill the irregularities,
making it difficult to get a seal with any kind of integrity. The
complexity of such operations, coupled with the irregular nature
of the wellbore may risk exposure to a lower success rate.
Swellable packers do not require rental of running tools,
nor do they require field personnel to install them. As they
can be installed in open-hole, there is no requirement for
cemented casing or liners, which are time consuming, complex
and expensive. Swellable packers are a simplistic, low risk and
effective installation which offers significant time and cost savings
to operators.

Airbag technology

Whilst swellable packers are installed as a means of isolating


a well, they are often installed as a safety net. When buying a
car, would the buyer purchase one without an airbag? No, but
equally, they would hope to never need it. The same theory
applies to swellable packers; they can be installed simply as a
cost-effective backup device in the event of downhole fluid flow
from a compromised primary operation.
Swellable packers are also effective in the case of washouts,
which can be difficult to contain as they can become bigger in a
short space of time. Packers can be designed to fill a specific size
hole, but the nature of washouts means the hole can become

Figure 1. HP Swellable Isolation Packer.

Figure 2. Scotsman Open Hole Anchor.

30 | Oilfield Technology November 2016

much bigger from the time it is detected, to the time a packer is


installed. As swellable packers have such a high expansion rate,
they will swell to fit a washout even if It is significantly bigger
than the original gauge hole.
A micro-annulus can also cause problems downhole. When a
cement slurry and spacer fails to completely remove mud during
a cement job, a small layer of filter cake can remain on the walls
or leave a high-side mud channel, creating space in the annulus.
This space allows unwanted fluid flow, but can be sealed off if
a back-up swellable packer has been installed as a pre-planned
contingency.
Reactive recently carried out multiple successful installations
of oil swellable packers for a major operator in Scandinavia.
The client requested the installation of the packers to act as a
contingency barrier against gas and water flooded formations
above and below the production intervals. These installations
added no additional time or complexity to the running of the
liners; whilst giving them cost-effective peace of mind.

High pressure packers

Swellable elastomers are developed in line with the well


environment to allow for the selection of the best compound
for each installation. The Reactive Swellometer is a software
package that drives this and with the results, prototype packages
are manufactured and tested in full scale in conditions as close
to those of the reservoir as possible.
The Reflex HP Swellable Isolation Packer is a high-pressure
seal solution, with swelling elastomers that are bonded directly
to OCTG tubing, casing or mandrels. This packer can expand
up to almost 300% of its original volume, one of the highest
expansion rates in the industry.
Commonly used in open-hole isolation, as well as
intermediate and surface casing annular isolation, the packers
cover a wide range of well conditions high to ultra-low
temperature environments, large wash-out coverage, fast
swell, ultra-slow swell, high chlorides, exotic brines, high
water cut, including deepwater seabed applications. It is
notoriously difficult to find effective packers that can work
in a cold water and high salinity environment, however
a solution has been developed which is currently being
deployed to seal seabed bore holes at the bottom of the
Atlantic Ocean. Reflex HP can also be used in conjunction
with the Scotsman Open Hole Anchor and drop-off
system, deployed as open hole bridge plugs and straddles
particularly useful for remedial water shut-off operations.
Slip-on elements, like the Reflex Lite Swellable Isolation
Packer, can be easily installed onto OCTG tubing or casing at
the work-site and secured in place with end-rings. Because
the Reflex Lites element is not bonded to the base pipe,
the tubing can rotate within the element which significantly
reduces the risk of element damage under rotation.
The modular design of these packers means that they
can be deployed in multiple configurations, for example, a
single element for low pressure applications. They can also
be deployed as individual spaced elements for low-pressure
applications with potential washouts or stacked elements for
higher pressure applications.
Highly complex wells are becoming more common around
the world which makes completions in these areas a higher
risk for operators. The installation of swellable packers
across these wells is rapidly increasing to lower the risk and
give operators piece of mind during downhole activities.

DR. ERIC GOERGEN, FEI CO, EXPLAINS


HOW DIGITAL INVESTIGATION
OF RESERVOIR ROCKS REVEALS
NEW INSIGHT, MISSED PRODUCIBLE
HYDROCARBONS, AND UNLOCKS
FASTER, MORE ACCURATE
RESERVES ESTIMATIONS.

omplex reservoirs have not changed; after all they were created
millions of years ago and much like the oil industry, they are
slow to evolve. In a market of oversupply and cost controls, E&P
operators are forced to ask the simple question: Is there a smarter
way to produce this asset and still make a profit?
The answer is not simple. In fact, like these reservoirs, it is
quite complex. Asset teams are being tasked with the impossible
evaluate their fields carefully and quickly to determine if they
can produce the available reserves and develop the field with
significantly less time, money and expertise. Often, when the oil

| 31

price slumps, the brilliance of the industry comes to the rescue in


the form of new technology. Digital rock is one such technique that
has been gaining a lot of attention as the cost to drill and core a well
at reduced oil prices means that every sample taken from the core
must provide maximum value to validate the cost.

What is digital rock?

Hidden within the grain-scale fabric of the reservoir, somewhere


in the size range of the common flu virus, the controls on
mechanisms related to improving field development planning and
optimising production can be visualised and understood. Utilising
advanced microscopy instrumentation to gather high-resolution
imagery at a variety of scales from whole core to pore, and
sprinkling in sophisticated processing algorithms and modelling
techniques, a new generation of geoscientists suddenly becomes
armed with the ability to re-think their asset evaluation and
production workflows by bringing traditional analysis of physical
rocks into the digital age.
Digital rock is a relatively new discipline that utilises digital
imagery, such as whole core computed tomography (CT), microCT,
digitised optical thin sections, scanning electron microscopy (SEM),
focused ion beam/scanning electron microscopy (FIB/SEM), etc., of
reservoir rock samples (core, plugs, drill cuttings and outcrops) as
the foundation for detailed textural interpretations, and qualitative
and quantitative assessment of physical properties and flow
dynamics. Using state of the art rock property simulations and
unique technology, digital rock offers quantitative assessment of
physical properties combined with impactful visual understanding
of reservoir behaviour to aid geoscientists, petrophysicists, and
reservoir engineers in making faster, more informed decisions about
the quality and economic producibility of their reservoirs.
Digital rock offers more than property and flow simulations.
The technology, by default, provides the ability to take any
rock sample and obtain a 2D or 3D digital representation of
the rock, which can then be used to quantify the physical
attributes related to reservoir quality of the sample (pore
size, pore system connectivity, grain size, etc.) and map those
attributes directly to specific rock types, lithologies and their
associated physical properties. What does this mean in terms
of economic producibility? For starters, most operators utilise
indirect measurements via well logs and then calibrate and
correct the results using core laboratory tests, if whole core
has been taken, and seismic data as part of their reservoir
characterisation process. This gives an asset team some insight
into stratigraphic layers, how the reservoir was formed and how
it might behave during drilling and ultimately, production. The
limitation, however, is that these tools cannot accurately pinpoint
the mechanisms that control flow dynamics, the catalysts
of formation damage, or the location of missed or isolated
hydrocarbons. Additionally, many of the lab measurements can
only be conducted on standard core plug material. In an economic
downturn, coring a well might not be optimal so standard core
material could be scarce. To answer the question of economic
producibillity, operators will want to reduce uncertainty by getting
to meaningful answers with the available materials but they are
going to have to be innovative and resourceful. Old core, sidewall
plugs, thin sections from adjacent wells, and fresh cuttings
might be the only available samples available to a team in the
current economic environment. Digital rock technologies provide
solutions to obtain highly accurate characterisation of rock
properties and reservoir quality on any sample type.

32 | Oilfield Technology November 2016

Reservoir quality

Every operator has thousands of feet of old core stored in


warehouses and will likely have cuttings and thin sections galore.
Creating or utilising a digital image of such samples using whole
core CT, microCT, SEM, FIBSEM or optical microscopy, and using
image analysis and visualisation software, such as PerGeos,
provides geologists a new, faster and more statistically robust
way to evaluate a play by using the available rock samples from
previously cored wells. Often the data from these samples are
orphaned because traditional laboratory methods cannot be
used to derive properties, and even if they could, a measurement
cannot be obtained without insight. Digital rock provides not
only the analytical and characterisation capabilities, but also
the ability to archive and rapidly share information, and most
importantly link properties to the fundamental nature of the
reservoir-the rock itself.
One type of digital rock technology using automated spatial
mineralogy performed on an SEM using energy dispersive X-ray
spectroscopy (EDS) to complement x-ray diffraction (XRD), fourier
transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR) and x-ray fluorescence
(XRF) lab tests. With automated spatial mineralogy such as MAPS
Mineralogy, the successor to QEMSCAN, a geologist can now
acquire a quantitative image of the sample that links the texture of
the rock with the associated mineralogy. In addition, automated
mineralogy results in millions of points counted instead of manually
point counting minerals at a rate of one thin section (200 points).
An expert PhD analyst that was formerly required for thin section
point counting can now be reclassified to interpret larger, more
meaningful batches of images and the associated statistical
output. By utilising an image processing platform like PerGeos,
petrographic interpretation can be more efficiently re-incorporated
into the formation evaluation workflow, and the results queried
and explored from a statistically relevant perspective. Because this
technique is gathering a back scattered electron (BSE) image along
with a mineral classification and an elemental map, a geologist
has not only more data points to analyse, but a much more robust
dataset at their fingertips that can be statistically analysed,
annotated and digitally shared with other members of the asset
team.
In addition, geoscientists can acquire new SEM or FIB/SEM
images or investigate the BSE image for rock features such as grain
size, pores and network connectivity to ascertain a more complete
understanding of the depositional environment, diagenetic
processes, total organic content, oil/gas in place (through physical
experimentation and image registration), and petrogenetic history
of the basin. These details give rich textural information that
helps the G&G team more confidently recommend locations in the
reservoir with the best quality, and can readily identify the geologic
features that create a sweet spot. It also provides statistically
robust details about the pore shape, aspect ratio, throat sizes and
body volumes to aid velocity understanding for improved seismic
interpretation.
Using a workflow automation approach within PerGeos,
geoscientists have a more systematic and consistent way to
not only visually assess the quality of the reservoir, but also to
probe the dataset to quantify features of importance. Any senior
petrographer or geologist can establish a methodology and
quickly distribute the process to a team of junior geoscientists
so best practices are implemented and knowledge is transferred
immediately. This functionality helps maintain a consistent routine
analysis, creates standardisation in reservoir quality assessment

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and provides the necessary efficiency to bring petrographic


workflows back into the mainstream digital versus analogue
analysis.

Digital core analysis

Another way operators can assess the business case for producing
under current economic conditions is to conduct digital core
analysis for single phase and multi-phase flow properties.
Combining both multi-scale image analysis from core to pore with
physical experiments and digital rock simulations, operators can
gain valuable rock and flow properties at a much faster rate than
standard core analysis.
Beginning at whole core scale, geoscientists and petrophysicists
can compare and contrast wireline logs with whole core CT imagery
to select more representative samples for plug tests based on the
various rocktypes. Using a central software platform, core analysts
can collaboratively work with multi-disciplinary teams to evaluate
a whole core CT image that has been stitched and aligned into a
contiguous track style dataset. This functionality allows teams to
co-visualise whole core images and related photography next to
the log data and extract parameters to characterise features such
as fracture densities, for example. It can also help with verifying
horizons and understanding heterogeneities within those horizons
to improve plug selection for geomechanical and laboratory testing.
Once the core has been plugged, the plugs can be imaged via
high-resolution helical microCT scanning. These 3D datasets can
be used for qualitative assessment of plugs to determine if they
are viable for routine core analysis, or they can be used to conduct
digital routine and special core analysis via digital rock modelling
and simulation. PerGeos offers the visualisation capability to analyse
the quality of the plug before it is sent for lab testing so geoscientists

can visually inspect the internal structure and screen the sample
for anomalies such as fractures, heterogeneity, drilling mud
contamination and any other damage that might skew lab results.
If the samples do indeed prove to be unsuitable for traditional
testing, reservoir engineers have four options:
They can outsource the analysis to available digital rock
modelling service providers which can perform routine core
analysis (RCA) and special core analysis (SCAL) digitally from
image-based or Process-based Modelling and simulation
techniques.
They can derive some RCA data including capillary pressure,
porosity and permeability by arming their geoscientists with a
software platform like PerGeos.
They can run the standard lab tests with the understanding
that the results will be highly variable.
They can choose to do nothing.

For progressive companies interested in deriving static


properties with greater insight than traditional RCA testing, microCT
image data can be processed for use in generating pore network
models. Through workflow automation features, an analyst can
incorporate their method and then cascade it down for others
to utilise in one simple process. The pore network model can be
shared and utilised by the entire asset team to understand not
only the measurement of porosity, capillary pressure through
MICP simulation, and absolute permeability, but how the pores
are related and what percentage of the pores are optimal for
production. These details give a much better understanding of the
producible hydrocarbons and play a big role in reserves estimation.
If an operator understands how much of the reservoir is likely to
produce, they can potentially save millions in development costs
and production optimisation.

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An integrated
workflow
TAHA TAHA, EMERSON AUTOMATION SOLUTIONS,
UK, DEMONSTRATES HOW PRODUCTION
MANAGEMENT AND RESERVOIR ENGINEERING
CAN BE LINKED TO ENSURE AN INTEGRATED
WORKFLOW ACROSS THE LIFECYCLE OF A FIELD.
he last few years have seen a growing focus on
integrated production management. Yet, too often,
there is a lack of integration between the two disciplines
of production and reservoir engineering. Such teams often
tend to work in different domains with different workflows
and only share information when they have to.
This article argues that a future vision of integrated
production management can only be solved through a closer
software link between production management and reservoir
engineering and a fully integrated workflow across the
lifecycle of the field.

Integrating production and reservoir


engineering

Last year Emerson Automation Solutions acquired Norwegian


company Yggdrasil. Emerson is incorporating Yggdrasils
production optimisation solution into its Roxar reservoir
management software portfolio.
This acquisition is a step forward in integrating the
disciplines of production engineering and reservoir
engineering, where the daily management of oil and gas
production is combined with reservoir modelling, uncertainty
quantification and simulation data to help operators optimise
their field development and production plans.
The new software known as Roxar METTE includes
network optimisation, well performance, transient simulation
and virtual metering capabilities as well as built-in interfaces
to reservoir simulators.
Such elements are central to an integrated production
management system.
Network optimisation focuses on the production and
surface facilities network from well inflow to processing
facilities, enabling operators to find operating points that
maximise hydrocarbon throughput via subject or defined
constraints. What if simulations can also be carried out.

| 35

Well performance concentrates on the capabilities of the well in


delivering oil and gas in particular profile data, gas lift hydraulic analysis,
and vertical flow performance (VFP) tables can be created. Components
such as compressors, pumps and choke valves can also be modelled and
well or flow lines capacities can be simulated using multiple boundaries to
quantify the effect on production potential.
Transient analysis is used for the time dependent simulation of well
and flow line behaviour. Applications where the transient module in the
METTE software can be deployed include cool down times for different
pipe wall insulation configurations, the calculation of the necessary
hydrate inhibitor amounts during cold start-ups, and the evaluation of
required times for flow line depressurisation.
Finally, virtual metering provides a cost-effective solution for
determining well phase flows through the interpretation of primary flow
related field data, such as measured pressures and temperatures.

Bridging the gap

It is in bridging the gap between production and reservoir engineering


that METTE plays its most significant role, however. This can be seen in the
network simulation module an advanced engineering tool for single and
multiphase flow systems.
By directly connecting to reservoir simulators, the software provides
concept-dependent production profiles, with reservoir outtakes reflecting
production targets and constraints in the downstream production
network.
This capability allows for the seamless simulation of hydrocarbon
flow through the reservoir production system to a processing facility. This
provides life-of-field (LOF) variations in mass and energy balances to be
modelled and optimised power, gas lift and hydrate inhibitor usage.
It also determines well routing, the effect of pigging and scheduling
for infill wells or third party tie-backs, and the quantification of the effect of
pressure boosting equipment.
When coupled to reservoir simulation processes, the production
network feeds guide rates back to the reservoir processes for the next time
step with the guide rates reflecting current production system capacity.
The production network can be interfaced to service networks for lift gas

and/or continuous hydrate inhibitor distribution, with all networks being


solved in each time step. Constraints in the service network(s) will also be
reflected in the production network.
Well inlet boundary conditions in the network can also be derived
from completed, coupled reservoir/network simulations to provide
proxy reservoir models. Using proxies for well boundary conditions and
life of field simulations can be carried out very quickly, lending itself to
parametric studies for everyday engineering work.

Other reservoir engineering links

There are also other ways in which the new software links in with reservoir
engineering tools.
For example, virtual metering results can be used with reservoir model
history-matching as well as for daily or historical production allocation.
The combined virtual metering and forecasting capabilities add up to a
powerful production management tool.
Furthermore, with the close integration of the software with Emersons
existing reservoir engineering solutions its reservoir simulator MORE and
history-matching and sensitivity tool ENABLE an effective tool is available
for production forecasting and optimisation.

Two North Sea fields

Examples of integrated production management and METTE can be found


in two North Sea fields.
In the first case, the software is being used as a flow assurance tool
on a medium size oilfield in the North Sea, comprised of three different
reservoirs requiring artificial lift in the form of gas lift. A large number of
development alternatives were screened in the early phase to create
concept dependent production profiles.
To provide consistent LOF data, the software was used to perform
coupled simulations, interfacing the three separate reservoir simulation
models with gas lift optimisation. The production network model was
simultaneously interfaced with a gas lift supply network to determine
its variation in mass and energy balances. Using decline curves that
originated from these simulations, the effects parameter variations, such
as flow line and tubing sizes, were investigated to find optimum sizes
based on reservoir model predictions over field life.
The second application is in a marginal North Sea oilfield with a
heavy non-Newtonian fluid that required artificial lifting. In this case,
the software provided functionality for the use of shear dependent
viscosity data during both steady state and transient simulations.
Decline curve data from the reservoir simulation model was
used as input to a production network model, which was then used
to predict artificial lift times, together with system lifetime mass and
energy balances. These used two alternative lift methods in the form
of electrical submersible pumps and gas lift.
The strong gelling tendencies of the production fluid also
required the implementation of experimental yield stress data to
perform realistic transient start-up simulations of the wells and
flow lines. The development concept also included simultaneously
water alternating gas, (SWAG) for gas reinjection into the reservoir,
simulated by the use of the software.

A new approach
Figure 1. Network simulation: the METTE software has a demonstrated capability
for handling large and complex networks, either coupled online to one or more
reservoir simulators or by using tank models for well inlet boundary conditions.
In this illustration, the purple line represents non flowing/non producing and the
green line represents flowing/producing.

36 | Oilfield Technology November 2016

Operators today are looking for a workflow that integrates production


and reservoir engineering to provide a complete picture of the field.
They are looking to align their modelling, uncertainty quantification
and simulation data with production to optimise their field
development plans and increase recovery.
With software solutions, such as Roxar METTE, operators are well
on the way to achieving this.

Sophisticated

SLURRY

SYSTEMS
VICTOR HUANG AND JOHN ZHU, VERTECHS,
DISCUSS THE TECHNOLOGIES BEHIND
SUCCESSFUL CEMENTING JOBS IN SHALE GAS
RESERVOIRS.

hale gas development largely uses oil-based mud for horizontal well
drilling, which provides hole stability, a rapid rate of penetration and
reusability. There is also an emphasis on large-scale fracturing technology
in order to maximise production capacity and develop greater economic value.

| 37

These factors mean that it is essential to provide sophisticated


operational engineering and products to execute successful
cementing jobs in the shale gas reservoir. Complex factors such
as the effective displacement of oil-based mud, cement slurry
strength development issues over high temperatures and large
differential temperature environments make cement slurry a
critical design consideration. Additionally, the elastoplastic
mechanical properties necessary for a properly performing
cement sheath make proven technology and knowledge crucial
to success. When the formations are capable of both pressure
and losses in the same section, this situation creates a narrow
safety margin or window for fluid density. This narrow margin
increases the challenge for successful cementing operations.
Control of the slurry, equivalent circulating density (ECD)
during the cement pumping operation is vital. If ECD is too low,
the resulting pressure instability can allow formation fluids
(connate or lost) to return to the wellbore and can contribute
to gas channelling while WOC. If the ECD is too high, reduced
returns due to losses can compromise the cement integrity. Both
extremes in ECD values contribute to poor results or failure.
Vertechs Multi-FIT cement slurry is a customised solution
aimed at providing stable cement performance and results for
zones known for: elevated temperature; abnormal pressure;
large differential temperature; shale gas and horizontal well
completions; especially the cementing complexities to consider
when following a drilling operation using oil-based mud.

Characteristics of the slurry system

Cement additives

Suitable for large differential temperature well conditions


(Up to 120C variance).
All additives are stable under high temperatures (up to
220C)
Applicable to density range from 1.10 SG to 2.90 SG.

Compatible with OBM/WBM.


Designed to prevent losses and provide improved sealing
properties.
Enhanced elastoplastic properties for mitigating the annular
pressure issue from large-scale fracturing or other pressure
sources.

Table 1. Applications of Multi-FIT cement slurry system.

FlexPlus is an elastoplastic additive developed to improve


the comprehensive mechanical properties of cement, such
as: rupture strength; impact toughness; decreased cement
elasticity modulus, improved stress and strain capacity of
cement. These features prevent external force damage to
cement which may cause micro-gap or micro-annulus that
will allow communication and compromise the cement bond
or integrity. All these benefits improve the cementing quality
and extend the life of the well.
VXR: A broad-spectrum type retarder with the capacity
to work over a middle to high temperature range. This
unique feature provides obvious advantages in long
section cementing for deep wells, particularly with a high
temperature (up to 220C) or large differential temperature
(up to 120C variance). VXR provides tremendous stability in
premixed form up to 30 days held in reserve (stored) until
mixed into the slurry.
VFL: VFL fluid loss agent is a cement additive that resists
salinity up to a saturated concentration with temperature
tolerance up to 200C. It is able to control the fluid
loss of cement at high temperature and minimise the
micro-annulus, to reduce gas channelling.
Fiblok: A specialty sized fibre with a monofilament structure.
Its high dispersion feature ensures it has no adverse effect in
mud/cement pump, drilling tools, BOP, bit nozzles. Fiblok is
compatible with WBM, OBM and does not elevate drilling fluid
rheology; is insoluble in drilling fluids; can be removed from
shale shaker along with cuttings. Low effective
dosage required (less than 1 kg/1 m3 drilling
fluids).

Top/bottom

Experiment
pressure MPa

Slurry
weight
SG

OBM weight
SG

Cementing result

Annular
pressure

36/136

83

2.00 - 2.30

1.74 - 2.14

Excellent

No

40/129

109

2.04 - 2.40

1.84 - 2.00

Excellent

No

34/150

89

2.04 - 2.30

1.84 - 1.94

Excellent

No

Max Temp. 136C, highest pressure is 103 MPa, range of temperature up to 100C, maximum slurry
density 2.40 SG. Multi-FIT successfully mitigated chronic problems such as poor cement bond, annular
communication (gas & pressure) and continues to be the choice of this operators team.

Figure 1. Vertechs Fiblok right image shows cuttings.

38 | Oilfield Technology November 2016

Applications

The Vertechs Multi-FIT slurry design has


been used successfully in multiple sections
on multiple wells in a major operators shale
gas project. The company has cemented
numerous, challenging, deep (up to 6000 m)
horizontal wells over three years service from
2013 to 2016.

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Example case history


Challenges included: high density environment, long open hole
section, wide range of temperature, single stage, horizontal
angle, losses and kicks while drilling.
Before the cementing operation was planned, drilling the
bottom hole section presented several difficulties. As the drilling
fluid density climbed to 2.20 SG seepage losses ensued. With a
reduced density at 2.15 SG the well kicks gave a gas flare up to
10 m, indicating that the safe pressure window is narrow.
During the first casing run the string could not reach the
desired depth, so the casing was pulled and the centralisation
Table 2. Horizontal well in Southwest China shale gas field.
Depth (s)

5520 m MD/3360 m TVD

BHST 130 C

130C

TOC: 300 m

300 m

TOC Temp:

40C

Maximum angle:

94

Cement stage (s):

Single

Drilling fluid

OBM - 2.5 SG (86:14 OWR)

Cement slurry density

2.20 SG
Vertechs Oil & Gas Technology Co., Ltd.

equipment reconfigured with new technology and new types of


centralisers. The company provided one-piece spring centralisers
and low friction coefficient rigid centralisers for combined
use. Vertechs centraliser design software was used to simulate
and optimise the centraliser placement. The casing was re-run
and landed in place ready for cementing operations. Before
cementing, Fiblok was pumped to sweep the hole clean and
ensure no debris remained.
The companys retarder can be pre-mixed up to 30 days in
advance, which means substantial savings for operators, by
thickening time curve on the same premixed fluid. Multi-FIT lead
slurry ultra-sonic strength development curve under low
temperature shown in Figure 2.
With the development of drilling technology, and the
requirement for the cement slurry; HT, long cementing interval,
high temperature difference, cement sheath compressive
strength and thickening time requirement challenges the
retarder to deliver results. The key design requirement was that
the lead slurry compressive strength needed to build up within
72 hrs at 35C.
Planning for Multi-FIT pumping operations indicated that
a 1.17 SG NaCl brine be chosen as the spacer and a pumping
pressure up to 60 MPa. Due to the narrow density window,
pressure was carefully controlled during the pumping and
adjusted constantly by varying the pump rate to control ECD
accordingly.
The pumping was adjusted constantly by varying the
pump rate to control ECD accordingly.

Multi fit key elements and functional mechanism


Primary bridging
As the Multi-FIT cement slurry passes through a porous or
permeable formation, it creates a bridging effect on the
surface and into the pore throat as the basic foundation of
the bridge.
Multi-Fit lead slurry ultra-sonic strength development curve under low temperature shown in Picture-2.

FigureWith the development of drilling technology, and the requirement for the cement slurry; HT, long
2. Multi-FIT lead slurry ultra-sonic strength development curve under low

cementing interval, high temp. difference, cement sheath compressive strength and thickening time
temperature.

requirement challenges the retarder to deliver results. The key design requirement is that the lead slurry
compressive strength needs to build up within 72 hrs at 35C


Planning for Multi Fit pumping operations indicated that a 1.17 SG NaCl brine be chosen as the spacer and
a pumping pressure up to 60 MPa. Due to the narrow density window, pressure is carefully controlled
during the pumping and adjusted constantly by varying the pump rate to control ECD accordingly.
the pumping and adjusted constantly by varying the pump rate to control ECD accordingly.

MULTI-FIT KEY ELEMENTS & FUNCTIONAL MECHANISM

1.

Primary Bridging

As the Multi-FIT cement slurry passes through a porous or permeable formation, it creates a bridging
effect on the surface and into the pore throat as the basic foundation of the bridge.

2. Filling and embedding effect
After bridgingthere is a basic skeleton on the surface of the porous formation, the thin particles in
the slurry material gradually fill and embed into the tiny holes of the basic bridging skeleton. The
differential pressure causes compaction, slowly forming a blocking partition to reduce or to eliminate
losses, improve the loading ability of fluid column pressure (ECD/ESD).

For more information, please email to engineering@vertechs.com


VERTECHSYour One-Source Oil & Gas Solutions

Figure 3. Bottom hole ECD curve (no losses observed after slurry displaced into

annulus).

40 | Oilfield Technology November 2016

Filling and embedding effect


After bridging, there is a basic skeleton on the surface
of the porous formation, the thin particles in the slurry
material gradually fill and embed into the tiny holes of the
basic bridging skeleton. The differential pressure causes
compaction, slowly forming a blocking partition to reduce
or to eliminate losses, improve the loading ability of fluid
column pressure (ECD/ESD).

Infiltration and brace effect


As the Multi-FIT cement slurry forms filter cake under
differential pressure and is packed into loss zones, selected
fibrous material is caught in the filter cake and has a strong
bracing effect. This kind of filter cake containing additives to
reinforce bridging capacity, combined with the supporting
skeleton can be used to fill and embed chosen bridging
material. This reduces or eliminates losses and enhances
a plugging effect to improve the limit of hydrostatic or
pump pressure that can be necessary for cement pumping
operations.
As the pumping plan ECD curve shows, with a narrow
pressure window it is important to ensure well control safety
and also take losses into consideration to reduce loss volume
during displacement.

SUBSEA
Y
G
O
L
O
TECHN

Q&A

Oilfield Technology invited Fo


to share their insights on arum Energy Technologies and Weatherford
vari y of subsea technologi
es
feedback covered dynamicet
positioning, ROV systems, . Their
flow measurement, and more
.

| 41

Subsea technology Q&A


Christian Blinkenberg and
Mike Scott, Forum Energy
Technologies, share their
insights on a variety of
subsea technologies.
Dynamic positioning

In relation to dynamic positioning (DP) of vessels, external


factors such as acoustic signal, visibility, severe weather or
limited battery life of transponders can impact on a sensors
performance with the loss of crucial data. Ultimately, this
creates a risk of misinformed manoeuvres.
Deck-mounted taut wire systems (TWS) assist when other
DP reference sensors may not achieve fully reliable data
sets. It is possible to determine a vessels three-dimensional
movement relative to the deployed depressor weight.
Forum Energy Technologys Subsea Rentals business
has designed a D-POS TWS that operates as an independent
peripheral sensor in water depths of up to 400 m and
integrates into a range of DP consoles.
The TWS deploys relative-positioning reference sensors
that measure angles and distance from vessel to the
connected depressor weight on the seabed. As the vessel
moves relative to the depressor weight, the angle between
the gimbal head and depressor weight changes. The DP
system utilises the outputs (Ethernet, digital or analogue) to
maintain position.

Figure 1. Forum D-POS Taut Wire System (TWS) makes it possible to


determine a vessels three-dimensional movement relative to the deployed
depressor weight.

42 | Oilfield Technology November 2016

This data supply supports work vessels, DSVs,


construction and intervention vessels in close proximity to
installations and also in open water.
Key advantages include the system being viewable by DP
operators and bridge crew with alarms built in to operate in
real time and to ensure a continuous operation.
A typical deck-unit uses a double A-frame boom for
rigidity and accuracy and includes an electrically-driven
winch unit with integrated level wind. A pneumatic cylinder
assists in providing a constant tension mode and shock
absorption.
The SIL2 certified TWS is fitted with a tropicalised
SIEMENS motor for use in any climate and in harsh offshore
conditions.
Marine Technologies LLC, which specialises in providing
superior vessel control solutions for all types of vessels,
recently invested in the TWS.
Sveinung Tollefsen, Marine Technologies, Norway, said:
We have used the system with one of our DP2 system on
a vessel which was built in Romania and it has already
successfully undergone sea trial tests. The system was easy to
install and has already proved its high performance.

ROV systems

As the oil and gas industry attempts to work smarter, the


supply chain is constantly challenged to find ways to be more
effective. Whether performing jobs more quickly, minimising
any effect to the environment or cost savings, it is the never
ending effort to improve that drives development.
Forum Energy has focused on bridging the gap between
observation and work class ROVs bringing the best of both
into one vehicle. Historically, electric systems have always
been smaller and nimbler but consequently less powerful
and more limited in the tasks they can perform than their
hydraulic cousins.
The company had this in mind when designing its
flagship electric ROV, the Comanche.
Considered a light work class, the system has
substantial intervention capability. This is achieved by
enabling the fitment of industry standard manipulators
more commonly seen on full size work class ROVs.
These include a fully closed loop, position controlled,
seven-function manipulator that comprises accuracy and
control combined with strength and reliability.
The Comanche propulsion system is natively electrical
which is what differentiates electric from hydraulic ROVs
although hydraulics are required for manipulators and
tooling. Therefore, a compact hydraulic power unit was
developed with consideration given to tools the system
could use. This includes dredge pumps, torque tools,
pumping and injection systems, cutters, water jetters and
others that previously ran exclusively on work class.
With a power system of 3000 Volt (400 Hz) from
surface to ROV, the intelligent power transmission makes

Subsea technology Q&A


the Comanche particularly suited for long tether
excursions and deep, live-boating operations due
to reduced tether and main lift cable diameters. A
payload up to 250 kg (550 lb) and a fully electric,
seven-thruster propulsion system is configured
to provide optimum thrust and lifting capability
making the Comanche a compact, capable system
with the ability to operate to 6000 m.
Enhanced interface capabilities support
high-spec survey work with spreads comprising:
dual-head, multi beams; fibre optic gyroscope;
bathymetric system; doppler velocity log;
hydraulic boom cameras; pipetracker, wheeled
skid; CP with electric actuator and laser
measurement equipment.
The company believes, and feedback from
clients suggests, the Comanche fits a gap
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Subsea technology Q&A


Haldun Unalmis and
Dean Lehner, Weatherford,
discuss the latest flow
measurement technologies
for the subsea market.

new multiphase flowmeter system is now available


for the subsea market. The system combines two
Weatherford products with proven performance track
records: a Rheos2P two-phase downhole optical flowmeter
(OFM) and a Red Eye subsea water-cut meter (WCM). The
integrated nonnuclear system has features that minimise
traditional issues associated with subsea measurement and
maximise the information obtained from the well. The WCM

dynamically sends the water-cut information to a computer at


the surface, which also receives downhole measurements of
velocity, speed of sound (SoS), pressure, and temperature from
the OFM.

Flow measurement

The OFM measures velocity and SoS by tracking eddies


convecting with flow and sound waves propagating in both
directions. Eddies and sound waves create some strain on
the pipe circumference in the radial direction. This strain is
measured by an array of optical sensors externally mounted onto
the sensor tube and is fed into an array processing algorithm to
determine the time of flight for eddies and sound waves between
sensors. Eddy velocities and sound speeds of the fluid mixture
are then calculated based on the time of flight and the known
distances between sensors.
The fullbore design of the Rheos2P OFM (Figure 1) prevents
permanent pressure loss, provides high resilience to erosion,
and enables it to make robust velocity measurements in
an undisturbed flow. The OFM sensors are not exposed to
production fluids that can cause damage over time. Because
flow measurement is bidirectional, the OFM can be used for both
production and injection wells. One of the key features of the
OFM is its high turndown ratio which allows flow measurements
in a broader range with no high flow rate limit.

Water-cut measurement

Figure 1. The Rheos2P OFM measures velocity and speed of sound


along with pressure and temperature. The system consists of a
topside electro-optic module and a fullbore, noninvasive sensor tube
that goes into the well. The sensor tube comes with high pressure
rating in a compact form in different sizes and is installed as a part of
production tubing.

The Red Eye WCM works on the basic principles of filter


spectrophotometry, relying on differences in absorption
signatures between crude oil and water in the near-infrared (NIR)
spectral region (Figure 2). Strong absorption peaks of water
relative to other components provide excellent water detection
capability that is insensitive to gas or liquid hydrocarbon
properties. This technique has the advantage of being insensitive
to water salinity, because absorption characteristics of water are
governed by water molecules only.

System measurement: three-phase flow rates

The system uses three primary measurements to resolve


multiphase flow: velocity, mixture SoS, and water cut. The
velocity measured by the Rheos2P OFM is used to determine
the total flow rate. One of the phase fractions, water-in-liquid
ratio (WLR), is a direct measurement by the Red Eye WCM. The
second phase fraction, the liquid holdup (HL), is determined
from the SoS and WLR measurements (Figure 3). The volumetric
phase flow rates are then calculated based on the total flow
rate and the two phase fractions. This technique also identifies
the density of the mixture, which can be used to determine the
mass flow rates in addition to the volumetric flow rates. This
measurement approach has been validated both conceptually
and through a multiphase flow loop test.1-3
Figure 2. The Red Eye WCM distinguishes between oil A, oil B,
methanol, and water using the respective absorption signatures of
the materials in the NIR spectral region.

44 | Oilfield Technology November 2016

Additional features of the system

In addition to the features already discussed, the current


system may be used in various configurations to obtain more

Subsea technology Q&A


information from the well. For example, it is possible to
configure a system which consists of multiple OFMs that are
installed at different zones of a multizone well. This allows
determining zonal production contributions from the well,
and helping optimise the production when there is unwanted
water or gas coning from a specific zone. It is also possible to
use the system in a field-wide arrangement where the OFMs
are installed in separate wells in a multi-well field. In this
arrangement, one system computer drives all the OFMs and
WCMs.

References
1.

2.

3.

nalmis, . H. & Lievois, J. Multiphase Flowmeter for Subsea


Applications, US Patent No. US9347310 B2. https://www.google.com/
patents/US9347310, (2016).
nalmis, . H. & Lievois, J. Subsea Multiphase Flow Measurement A
New Approach, Proc. 30th International North Sea Flow Measurement
Workshop, St Andrews, U.K., Paper 6.2, (23 - 26 October, 2012).
nalmis, . H., Raul, V. V., & Ramakrishnan, V. Subsea Multiphase
Flowmeter: Performance Tests in Multiphase Flow Loop, SPE Asia
Pacific Oil & Gas Conference and Exhibition (APOGCE), Perth,
Australia, 25 - 27 October, 2016). SPE-182378-MS. http://dx.doi.
org/10.2118/182378-MS.

Figure 3. The SoS measured by the Rheos2P OFM and the water
cut measured by the Red Eye WCM are sufficient to resolve the liquid
fraction and density of the mixture.

A new feature
showcasing oil and gas
technologies designed
for the most extreme
environments.
Subscribe online at:
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Under the Patronage of

His Royal Highness Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa


Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bahrain

2017

Society of Petroleum Engineers

2017
20th Middle
East Oil & Gas Show and Conference
th

20 Middle East Oil & Gas


Show and Conference
Society of Petroleum Engineers

BAHRAIN INTERNATIONAL EXHIBITION


AND CONVENTION CENTRE

CONFERENCE:

6 9 March 2017

EXHIBITION:

7 9 March 2017

2017

www.meos17.com

20th Middle East Oil & Gas Show and Conference


CONFERENCE
ORGANISERS

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2017

JIM MARTENS AND JOHN HEBERT, BLACKHAWK, USA, DESCRIBE HOW A


NEW LAUNCH SYSTEM COMPONENT IS MITIGATING RISK IN MAN LIFTING OPERATIONS.

R E D U C I N G
FATA L I T I E S F R O M FA L L I N G

1189;

A number not commonly used or discussed in the


oil and gas extraction industry. That is the number
of employee deaths in the business, in the US alone, from 2003 to
2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The focus on safety has been the most important initiative
undertaken within the industry. That effort has yielded results in
every major category, except one: Falls.
Studies have shown that other major categories have reduced
their fatality rate by as much as 61%, while the fatality rate for falls has

increased by 28%. Procedures and training can mitigate the risk of falls
but it is possible to eliminate the cause, entirely.
A continuing concern during rig operations is the connection
of high pressure lines to suspended equipment in the derrick. For
the purpose of this article, Blackhawk examines the case of liner or
casing cementing operations; although the technology can apply to
any side entry device. Plug and dart launching cementing heads have
advanced greatly in the last ten years, with most offshore operators
now opting for wirelessly controlled, internally powered systems.

| 47

These systems have greatly reduced the need to lift personnel above
The system does not require modification to either the rig or the
the rig floor. Modern heads operate the plug and dart launching
standard procedures for cementing. The dart launcher can either
functions, Kelly-valve operations, ball dropping, indicators, and
be picked up through the V door or brought to the active rotary and
cement line valves all from a wireless controller. These heads utilise
be made up to the drill pipe. Once the pump in sub or cement head
closed-loop encoded communication systems which completely
equipped with a SkyHook is made up, the Blackhawk technician
eliminate inadvertent operation of any of the other functions. The best
lowers a high pressure stinger from the unit to the rig floor. The descent
of these new heads are compact, rotatable, able to be racked back
velocity is controlled by the technician with a closed-loop encoded
in the derrick, and constructed in a manner where the darts are not
remote control and is limited hydraulically. Chiksan loops, or flexible
deformed while resting inside the launcher. Despite these advances in
hose, is then connected on the rig floor to the stinger. In normal
technology, safety, and efficiency, personnel must still be lifted up in a
operation the high pressure line is lifted to the dart launcher using an
safety harness, typically with a set of tools, including a hammer, up to
air hoist or tugger line. This remains unchanged except now the system
the cement head to attach the high pressure cement line.
will lift the cement line between the tugger connection and the stinger.
Man lifting operations are recognised as high risk activities and,
In the instance where a swivel is utilised an anti-rotation tether can be
as such, many rigs require special permitting. In this instance, not
installed at the rig floor. The technician monitors ascent and, again,
only are personnel lifted into hazardous positions but they are usually
controls velocity to match the hoist operator as the high pressure line
equipped with potential dropped objects. Some of these objects, if
is raised. The system is not designed to lift the weight of the entire high
dropped, reach an impact force that could seriously injure and/or, in
pressure line but rather relies on the proven rig procedure of lifting
worst cases, result in being fatal. In cementing operations, personnel
with the air hoist. In this manner no additional dropped object risk is
are also hoisted along with a heavy Chiksan line in very close proximity,
brought into the operation. Once the stinger approaches the system,
introducing dangers such as tangling, pinch points, and blunt force
the stinger is guided into a bell then locked into the tool. The system
trauma. These risks are heavily increased when working in adverse
has the capability of operating to heights of 150 ft (46 m).
conditions, such as high winds or rough seas. To avoid this risk, some
The locking mechanism is equipped with proximity sensors and the
operators have gone as far as to perform cementing processes through
Blackhawk wireless system provides a communication feedback to the
the top drive in order to prevent falls. This procedure is inherently
technician on the rig floor. There are clear indications on the rig floor of
inefficient as cement can either pool in the mud line loop, form a
lock actuation and of final lock position through visual indication and
sheath, damage the top drive, or in rare instances prematurely harden.
system pressure. The stinger mechanism has been tested to 15 000 psi
There has not been a viable alternative to these procedures; until now.
and features a horseshoe, cam, and collet lock, ensuring that, when
Blackhawk Specialty Tools has invented and developed a solution
the stinger is locked it place, it stays in place. No portion of the lifting
for remotely connecting high pressure pumping lines. The SkyHook
mechanism is exposed to the flow path or pressure, eliminating
module is an integrated component for all Blackhawk dart and plug
the possibility of fluid or pressure interference with the locking
launching systems.
mechanisms or fluid erosion impacting system integrity.
Developing a new system in the laboratory is interesting and
Once the stinger is in position and locked, all normal rig activities,
exciting but the true test is real world application. In late September
including rotation and reciprocation, can take place. The technician has
a full scale test was successfully conducted on the complete system
full control of all cementing head functionality throughout the cementing
including swivelling, pumping, wireless operation and pressure testing.
operation. Though the goal of this technology is to eliminate personnel

The system was then stripped, rebuilt, and made ready for the field.
being lifted above the rig floor during pumping operations, backup
The first field run of the SkyHook occurred on 13 - 14 September,
systems have been engineered to allow for manual intervention. This
The Blackhawk SkyHook
2016 on Anadarkos #1 Warrior well in the Gulf of Mexico. Anadarko
allows a bypass of all components in the rare case of a system failure.
was willing to support Blackhawk in providing a real-world platform
A Revolution in Safety and Efficiency Limiting non-productive time is a key advantage of the system.
for testing. As normally occurs with cementing, the equipment was
Once the pumping job is completed the technician remotely
employed at night, in the rain, and with rig heave, where conventional
unlocks the stinger and guides the mechanism to the rig floor
1189; A number not commonly used or discussed in the oil and gas extraction industry. That is the
Chiksan make up operations would have been in unfavourable
coordinating with the hoist operator. The stinger is equipped with a
number of employee deaths in the business, in the US alone, from 2003 to 2013, according to the
conditions. With these extreme conditions, the operations can be
mud saver feature so when disconnecting or lowering the chiksan line,
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The focus on safety has been the most important initiative
delayed until the situation improves. Through the use of the SkyHook,
fluid spills to the floor are prevented.
undertaken within the industry. That effort has yielded results in every major category, except one.
operations
were
able
to
continue
without
risk
or
time
delay.
The
rig
The industry has entered a phase where the cost constitutes a
Falls.
crew, operator, and equipment all operated without incident, saving rig
more important factor in decision making. From a strictly economic
time and eliminating the risk of falls.
sense, the SkyHook efficiency gains more than the offset cost of the
Fatality Rate Change (2003-2013)
equipment. In a normal operation, lifting
personnel to attach lines, detach, open and
close valves, and rig up tethers for swivels
40%
will consume 30 minutes to an hour of
20%
rig time. The wireless system reduces the
TransportaTon
0%
operational flow line make up time to a few
Contact
minutes.
-20%
Fire
In conclusion, the SkyHook can not
-40%
only provide risk mitigation for falls and
Environment
-60%
dropped objects, but it can also provide
Falls
-80%
cost savings in difficult market conditions,
making it an example of innovative
engineering and an industry first

technology applied to create a safer and
Figure 1. Fatality rate change (2003 - 2013).
more efficient workplace.
Studies have shown that other major categories have reduced their fatality rate by as much as 61%,

while the fatality rate for falls has increased by 28%. Procedures and training can mitigate the risk of
falls but it is possible to eliminate the cause, entirely.
48 | Oilfield Technology November 2016

A continuing concern during rig operations is the connection of high pressure lines to suspended
equipment in the derrick. For the purpose of this article, Blackhawk examines the case of liner or casing

ADVANCEMENTS

David Simpson, Cameron, a Schlumberger company, explains how flowmeter accuracy


helps eliminate underdosing and the need to overdose in subsea chemical injection.

inding the right balance in chemical injection is not always about


determining the correct dose rate of inhibitor; many times it is about
the means of injection. Accuracy of the subsea chemical injection
flowmeter is the critical element that can help eliminate the occurrence
of underdosing and overdosing. On deepwater projects with complex
architecture and long step-outs, operators face high cost for not getting
the dosage right. These chemical injection operations involve many
uncertainties, including that of traditional chemical injection metering
valve flowmeters that create even more uncertainty and cause operators
to inadvertently underdose, or in some instances, purposefully overdose
the production system to be sure full inhibition is achieved.
Accuracy of the flow as measured within the chemical injection
metering valve (CIMV) can mean millions of dollars in cost savings and can
make the difference between successfully managing the flow assurance
challenges and having to make a best guess resulting in under or
overdosing. Operators are pumping as much as 10 to 20% excess chemicals
in a year just to protect from meter inaccuracy. Accurate and reliable flow
measurement of chemical inhibitor is paramount to increasing operational

efficiency and can reduce operational expenditure by tens of millions of


dollars over the life of the field.

Sources of measurement inaccuracy

Inaccuracies in flow measurement can stem from particulate


contamination and blockage in the CIMV and from the fact that CIMVs are
engineered years in advance of being put into service, often with limited
knowledge of the chemicals to be injected. Blockage occurs as a result
of particulate contamination of chemicals being injected through the
CIMV and failure of moving parts in some CIMV designs. Also, not knowing
what chemical will actually be metered by the CIMV during flowmeter
production can have serious repercussions on some flowmeter designs.
Not knowing what chemical will actually be put into the CIMV system
results in a best-guess on the part of the CIMV designer (viscosity can be
critical to calibrating some traditional CIMV flowmeters), and ultimately,
potential system under performance. And then there are the operational
decisions made to change out the injection chemicals used in the
field, which means the CIMV is no longer even remotely tailored for the

| 49

chemicals being used today. Accuracy of CIMVs drops off, and failure can
occur due to contamination or blockage, costing the operator millions of
dollars in remediating flow assurance issues and in intervention costs.

Focus on CIMV design

Subsea operators have been in search of higher accuracy, reliable


chemical injection flowmeters that have low native pressure drop
requirements, are particulate tolerant (thus needing less stringent
Best guess costs money
chemical cleanliness requirements), and having ever higher pressure
Under and overdosing to keep production flowing incurs considerable
ratings. They are also looking to identify Capex savings in umbilical and
additional cost. The under injection of treatment chemicals can result in
installation costs, Opex saving on chemical usage over the life of the field,
scale or paraffin buildup in well production strings or pipelines, reducing
space and weight savings on the host facility, and the ability to control
the production rate. If the scale or paraffin exists for an extended period
chemical injection in deepwater/sub-ambient wells.
of time, the well may have to be shut in to undergo a batch treatment,
Previous generations of CIMV technology, using mechanical
resulting in deferred production and intervention costs. In the case of
flowmeters along with other designs that use pressure differential
corrosion inhibitor treatment programmes, SURF (subsea umbilicals, risers
measurements across small orifices and tightly fitting moving parts, did
and flowline) facilities can, in severe cases, be rendered unavailable for
not address these needs. Injection chemical cleanliness is critical; strict
production until failed components are replaced.
cleanliness limits are specified for the chemicals and subsea filters required
In the case of overdosing, chemical excess costs are significant
in the CIMVs. Flow measurement accuracy can also be heavily influenced
(potentially, a company could spend more than US$2 million annually to
by the properties of the injected chemicals, requiring project-specific
over-inject just one well), and the additional tankage ties up valuable deck
calibration with specific chemicals during manufacture.
space on the platform. The chemicals are expensive and involve associated
Now, use of a non-intrusive line-of-sight ultrasonic flowmeter is
transportation, storage, and handling costs.
replacing these previous flowmeter designs, introducing a step change
in CIMV technology. The non-intrusive nature of these ultrasonic
flowmeters, which measure flow rate by time-of-flight measurement,
means that the flowmeter is inherently debris tolerant with no moving
parts, is chemical independent with a very low native pressure drop,
and does not require any subsea filtration. These ultrasonic flowmeters
deliver better than 3% of reading accuracy with an extremely large
turn-down ratio that allows a greater injection range from a single
device. Cameron PULSE* ultrasonic chemical injection metering valves
have been developed for low-, medium-, and high-flow applications
to address the complete chemical injection portfolio from low dose
inhibitors injected at less than 0.25 l/hr to thermodynamic hydrate
inhibitors (such as mono-ethylene glycol [MEG] or methanol injected up
to 26 500 l/hr). These ROV retrievable devices are self-regulating chemical
injection metering valves, requiring only one user-defined input (flow
rate set point).
The PULSE LF* low-flow ultrasonic chemical injection metering
valve (injection range 0.25 - 600 l/hr) is designed for low-dose inhibitor
(LDI) injection to combat corrosion or scale buildup in the production
system. For example, where particulate blockage is a recognised cause of
CIMV failure due to the very low injection rates required. The PULSE MF*
medium-flow ultrasonic chemical injection metering valve (injection
range 80 - 11 000 l/hr) and PULSE HF* high-flow ultrasonic chemical
injection metering valve (injection range 160 to 26 500 l/hr) are designed
for hydrate management in large-bore subsea gas production projects,
where methanol or regenerated MEG are injected at startup and shutdown
or continuously during production to prevent hydrate formation and
Figure 1. Subsea installation of a PULSE LF CIMV.
plugging. The safe prevention and/or removal of hydrate plugs represents
70% of deepwater flow assurance challenges;
the remaining 30% deal with waxes, scale,
corrosion, and asphaltene remediation. Large
volumes of thermodynamic inhibitors such
as MEG or methanol are injected in a very
accurate and controlled manner, preventing
the formation of hydrate plugs that would
otherwise very quickly form and block
the subsea production system, causing a
shutdown.
Due to the high cost of MEG, it is
often stripped out of the produced gas
in a MEG regeneration process and
recycled in the system. This leads to a
contamination buildup in the lean MEG
Figure 2. Microbore non-intrusive line-of sight ultrasonic flowmeter developed for the PULSE LF CIMV.
from the regeneration process and also from

50 | Oilfield Technology November 2016

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contamination in the distribution system. Any chemical injection metering


valve injecting this lean MEG stream must be robust to counter such high
levels of contamination.
The ability offered by the medium- and high-flow CIMVs to precisely
control the injection rates of MEG from a common distribution network
to individual wells allows operators to better manage their MEG budget,
allowing higher allocation of MEG to where it is needed most. The smarter
allocation of MEG maximises production on each well across the field, and
reduces the over injection volume, enabling a reduction in the required
size and cost of the regeneration plant on the host facility.

How the technology works

Figure 3. PULSE CIMV system architecture.

Figure 4. Horizontally installed PULSE LF CIMV.

Figure 5. Vertically installed PULSE MF CIMV.

52 | Oilfield Technology November 2016

At the core of the PULSE LF CIMV is a microbore non-intrusive line-of-sight


ultrasonic flowmeter. The recently launched ultrasonic flowmeter has
no moving parts, and unlike a Venturi-type flowmeter, is pressure and
chemical independent with a very low native pressure drop. Flow rate is
determined by time-of-flight measurement of an ultrasonic pulse emitted
and received by a pair of transducers travelling with and against the
chemical flow in a small-bore tube. The onboard ultrasonic control module
precisely determines the difference in time of flight of the two ultrasonic
pulses travelling in the metering path, and it is the Delta T measurement
that is used to calculate flow rate. This flowmeter development addresses
the key limitation of present low flow chemical injection technology,
which is sensitivity to blockage, by having capability to accurately and
reliably meter chemical inhibitors without the need for filtration. The
ultrasonic flowmeter features an extremely high turn-down ratio, allowing
one meter to be used across a wide range of injection applications, is
particulate tolerant (contaminated fluid can easily pass through the
unrestricted flowmeter tube), provides consistent high accuracy of reading
independent of changes in chemical properties such as viscosity, and
reliably measures chemical inhibitor flow rate.
The new PULSE LF CIMV shares the same system architecture as
the field proven PULSE MF & PULSE HF CIMV which were launched in
2010, whereby the ultrasonic flowmeter is combined in a closed-loop
control with an electrically actuated throttling valve. Real time feedback
for the flowmeter is used to control the throttling valve, maintaining a
user-defined injection rate set point indefinitely, irrespective of up- and
downstream system disturbances. Process status indications and
diagnostic data is streamed back to give operators a clear view and
control of what is happening at the subsea injection point. The PULSE
LF CIMV utilises a micro-needle and seat throttling valve to precisely
control the low-dose inhibitor injection rate between 0.25 and 600 l/hr.
The PULSE MF and PULSE HF CIMVs use a multiple orifice valve (MOV)
choke trim technology to give erosion-resistant precise control over the
injection of thermodynamic inhibitors ranging from 80 to 26 500 l/hr.
Packaged as an ROV retrievable device with on-board diagnostics,
the PULSE CIMVs streams back performance data, enabling full inhibition
without the need for overdosing. They also provide highly accurate and
reliable injection control, ensuring the chemicals are consistently injected
at the correct location and rate.
Highly accurate and reliable ultrasonic flowmeter technology delivers
significant chemical Opex savings as a result of increased measurement
accuracy alone. Used with a hydrate management system, significant
potential exists to reduce not only the size, weight, and Capex of the
required MEG regeneration plant, but also its running cost. Further
savings can be realised in the cost of the MEG or methanol distribution
system, especially for long step-out tiebacks or satellite wells, due to the
low pressure drop nature of the ultrasonic flow measurement technique
compared to traditional Venturi-type flow measurement.

Note

*Mark of Schlumberger

flow

A D VA N C I N G

ASSURANCE
SAM TOSCANO, GE, USA, EXPLAINS HOW NEW
FLOW ASSURANCE TECHNOLOGY CAN COUNTER
PARAFFIN PRODUCTION CHALLENGES.

uarantee of flow or flow assurance (FA), has been


credited to Petrobras originating sometime in the
1990s. Since its original designation, FA has evolved
to include nearly every production challenge from the
reservoir to the production separation system associated
with producing hydrocarbons. These challenges include
integrity management of the flow lines and equipment (valves,
chokes, pumps, etc.), deposition control (hydrates, paraffin,
asphaltene, mineral scale), dealing with large variations in the
flow of liquids and gases from the well (slugging), as well as
emulsion formation and the resulting changes in the viscosity
of the fluids.
Philosophically speaking, for a time frame that predates
the FA era, an oil and gas producer is primarily concerned with
two major areas integrity of the system, i.e. assuring that the
metallurgy throughout the system lasts as long as desired, and
optimisation of the production assuring that the fluids and
gas may flow at the optimal rates, according to system design
and production objectives.
From the perspective of a chemical supplier, this meant
studying the production system and investigating potential
root causes that would impact system integrity or production
optimisation, major factors impacting an operators lifting
costs.
With regards to integrity management, R&D groups focus
on the many potential causes of corrosion, e.g. bacteria, acid

gases, brines, flow regimes, solids production, chemicals used,


system pressure, and so forth. The objective is to ensure that
the risk caused by corrosions impact on system integrity is
mitigated to the lowest possible level, with consideration
to the economic constraints of such programmes. There are
many options available to do this, either in system design and
modifications, or in chemical programmes.
As it applies to production optimisation, specialised
research into the many causes which detract from optimal
system performance, has taken place. There have been many
industry groups formed to study FA in deepwater systems,
funded both by the chemical suppliers and manufacturers,
as well as oil and gas producers. Most of these studies are
conducted in conjunction with educational and research
institutions.
Intensive research regarding mineral scale inhibition
has taken place in recent years and much more is currently
underway. These studies investigate the many types of
brines present in oilfield production systems and the
conditions which cause instability, such as the innumerable
pressure and temperature conditions present in oil and gas
production systems. Similarly, system conditions which
cause gas hydrates to form (especially in deepwater systems)
and process design and chemical additives to manage
hydrates are being studied in laboratories and universities
throughout the world. Considerations include gas and brine

| 53

Figure 1. The paraffinic composition of crude oils, one of many


molecules present in crude oil is shown here, which is important to
understand when selecting the best inhibitors.

Figure 2. Impact of chemical treatment on wax deposition.

composition, temperature gradients and pressure changes,


oil and condensate composition, chemical additives applied
upstream of the hydrate forming envelope in the system, and
so forth.
Deposits and plugging caused by asphaltene molecules is
a serious issue as well. There are factors in production systems
which contribute to asphaltene destabilisation, and solutions
to mitigate asphaltene challenges are available via mechanical
modifications and chemical treatments.
An equally important and problematic area of production
optimisation or FA is paraffin deposition. Much has been done
to study the mechanisms of paraffin precipitation under various
flow regimes and system conditions. Paraffin deposition is
a complex issue, for when it forms it represents a hit to the
total lifting costs. It becomes a problematic remediation
issue (affecting the cost side of the lifting cost equation as
an increase in operational expenses) and it also represents
a loss in a wells revenue generating production (a decrease
in the denominator of the lifting cost equation). It should be
remembered that paraffin is a very valuable component of
oil and the challenge is to transport as much of it as possible
to the refinery. Paraffin adhering to pumps and pipe walls
represents a failure waiting to happen.

New perspectives on the paraffin issue

Several years ago, GE recognised the importance of providing


improvements to the issue of paraffin in oil and gas production
systems. A research effort was funded from the top levels of the
organisation with the primary objective of developing superior
products to mitigate paraffin issues in oil and gas systems, with
the intent that these products would add millions of dollars in
cost savings and increased production to the bottom lines of
producers.

A multiphase approach to address the issues was established.

Figure 3. Results of cloud point using various additives on the surrogate

crude oil.

Crude oil properties:


Wax content: 3.8%
WAT: 22C
Pour Point: -3C
Cold finger experiment test
details:
T = 15C
Bulk temperature: 25C
Finger temperature: 10C
Duration: 4 hrs
Starting crude oil in cup: 40.0 g

Figure 4. Behaviour of paraffin inhibitors will vary so it is important to


make the proper selection.

54 | Oilfield Technology November 2016

Using commercially available chemistries, a benchmark would


be determined for product performance and cost-effectiveness.
Each product would be tested to determine its performance in
a number of testing protocols commonly used in the industry to
inhibit paraffin deposition and to prevent gelling.
To be a true global research effort, GE scientists developed
surrogate crudes which had characteristics of real paraffinic
crudes from around the globe. The surrogate crudes would allow
the research centres to independently focus on various aspects
of the research simultaneously, with each of the four global
centres essentially working on the same oils, but allowing each
centre to focus on what they do best. The results of these efforts
would be aggregated to determine which products worked best
in which test protocol.
One of the challenges is to look at each of the various tests
currently used to evaluate wax appearance temperature (WAT)
paraffin deposits, crude pour point reductions, viscosity, etc.
and to determine how closely the results correlate. The idea is to
determine how specific chemicals impact each of these factors,
looking for a product that performs best in each test and ideally,
in more than one test.
Some of the testing includes:
Cloud point.
Pour point reduction.
Cold finger testing (deposit analysis).
Flow through a pipe loop to study pressure changes,
indicating flowline deposition.

In addition, several surrogate blends were developed which


closely mimicked the characteristics of several produced crude
oils, with comparable depositional problems related to the
chemical composition of the wax.
GE began the process by an in-depth internal study to
benchmark all chemistries used to control wax related flow
assurance challenges.
In the first year alone, several chemical families known to
modify wax crystal structure and alter deposition were studied.
Several of these products were in the GE product database,
but many were new chemistries with limited data on their
performance.
With the knowledge gained in the internal study, GE was able
to establish benchmarks for critical areas of performance and
physical characteristics, enabling them to put creative thinking
and imagination to work.
There have been some successes already. GE researchers have
identified several chemistries which have really distinguished
themselves in the testing. Notably, these chemistries are working
repeatedly on a number of extremely problematic crudes from
around the globe.
The real challenge comes in determining optimal performance,
based on important criteria:
Looking for low treating amounts (cost-effectiveness and
dosage).
Optimum product activity, which can solubilised into a
stable formulation, for both onshore and offshore/deepwater
usage.

Deepwater is especially challenging as long term product


stability is important, as well as meeting flash point and particle
size specifications, with chemistries compatible to elastomers and
metals used in the umbilical injection systems. Additionally, the
health, safety and environmental aspects of the chemistry have
to be known. With any new chemistries, an underlying industry
tenet is to develop chemicals which are safer to handle and are
more environmentally friendly than the previous generation of
chemistry. Long term sustainability in the communities served and
in environmental protection is an aspect that is near and dear to
all of us.
Without going into specific details, several of the identified
chemistries are in final stages of development, awaiting
the go ahead to commercialise. There are trade secrets and
patent applications which have to be addressed as part of the
commercialisation process, based on what has been discovered.
In addition to identifying solutions to address flow
assurance challenges today, GE researchers are also focused
on the studying the mechanistic aspects of wax inhibitors, with
the hope of continued improvements in chemistry and cost
performance, helping producers increase system reliability and
optimise hydrocarbon production. Major efforts in this area
include:
Studies of wax and chemical properties and how they are
correlated.
New efficacious compounds leading to products with
improved performance.
Product formulations with a wider range of flow
characteristics over a range of temperature and pressure
conditions.

far has led to GEs first patent applications being rolled out on
these new chemistries which are expected to hit the market in the
near future. There is excitement around these new chemistries
as they have worked very well on a number of different crudes in
laboratory conditions and with several of the test protocols. These
products will be released under GEs ProSolv.

Summary

The guarantee of flow remains a major challenge to oil and


gas producers. Technology continues to evolve as production
conditions create new and sometimes more difficult operating
environments. Innovations by the industry drive continued
process improvement, allowing producers to go after difficult oils
in remote locations, successfully.
Operating philosophies as also evolving. Rather than total
inhibition of FA deposition, producers are looking at producing
controllable slurries instead. Situations which were unheard of
five years ago are now accepted as best practices.
GEs investments in research and development are made with
the intent of being a long-term partner to oil and gas producers,
delivering superior cost effective solutions and raising the bar on
state-of-the-art performance.

Reference
1.

Perez, P., Boden, E., Chichak, K., Boden, E., Gurnon, A. K., Hu, L., Lee,
McDermott, J., Osanhei, J., Peng, W., Richards, W., Xie, X., Evaluation of
Paraffin Wax Inhibitors: An Experimental Comparison of Bench-Top Test
Results and Small-Scale Deposition Rigs for Model Waxy Oils, OTC25927-MS,
Houston, TX (May, 2015).

Crude oil properties:


Wax content: 4.73%
WAT: 26.5C
Pour Point: <0C
API: 54.6
Cold finger experiment test
details:
T = 45C
Bulk temperature: 46C
Finger temperature: 1C
Duration: 24 hrs
Dosage: 800 ppm product

Figure 5. Depending on the crude type, performance and inhibition will vary.

One major project currently underway is investigating the


chemicals structures of the best chemistries and modifying them
to determine what types of impact the molecular changes have on
product performance in the standard batteries of tests. Work so

Figure 6. A high temperature gas chromatograph analysis of the carbon


number distribution of wax molecules in a crude oil sample.

November 2016 Oilfield Technology | 55

UM
MB
B LL II N
NG
G
FF U
THE
DIGITAL BATON

56 |

OILFIELD TECHNOLOGY
CORRESPONDENT, GORDON COPE,
SHOWS HOW DRILLING A WELL IS
A COMPLEX BUSINESS, BUT DATA
MANAGEMENT BOTTLENECKS MAKE IT
EVEN HARDER.

nyone who has witnessed the power, skill and coordination of


an Olympic relay race knows that the sport is fraught with the
potential for disaster; one slight case of butter-fingers during
the passing of the baton, and all is for naught.
But few realise how closely the process parallels the drilling
of a well, which requires the handoff of highly complex data sets
from one profession to the next. These handoffs, or information
exchange moments, force organisations to look beyond the silos
and solve the problem of enabling integrated or cross-functional
workflows, says Jim Crompton, O&G data manager of Reflections
Data Consulting. These are the often-quoted information
bottlenecks and sources of productivity barriers for just about
everyone in the organisation.
On paper, the procedure for drilling a well is relatively simple.
A prospective O&G region is initially explored using seismic
surveys; the information gathered is interpreted by geophysicists
in order to identify promising structural and stratigraphic plays.
Geologists then take the interpretations and use existing well logs
and geological models to further high-grade the information into

| 57

targets with the highest potential for hydrocarbon deposits. Their


analysis is then passed on to drilling engineers, who put together
a programme to drill the best prospects.
Successful wells are then handed over to production
engineers, who build surface and subsurface facilities to produce,
clean and send the oil and gas to market. All through the process,
operators are required to file pertinent information with state
authorities in order to meet regulatory requirements.

What can go wrong

Along the way, there are many potential data pratfalls. Sue Carr
is a data manager in the Canadian and international O&G sectors.
O&G is very archaic when it comes to handling data, she notes.
In the banking or health care sectors, you would never get away
with the way that many O&G companies handle things.
Many of the complications surrounding data handover
have been in existence for a long time. At a fundamental level,
silos within companies have not dealt with data as a long-term
corporate investment; geologists dispose of valuable information
when they stop exploring wells, and engineers abandon
production data when the field is no longer operating. Carr
was working for a company based in Alberta when they had to
decommission the Balzac gas field, which is located just north of
Calgary. The field is sour gas, with around 40% hydrogen sulfide,
so it was very important to have detailed information to guide the
decommissioning. Unfortunately, there was insufficient corporate
culture when it came to data management. As a result, they had
not kept sufficient production data. The company had to spend
tens of millions of dollars to duplicate tests in order to safely
comply with the decommissioning process.
The naming of a well is a basic attribute for identifying the
asset. Yet such a simple process is bedevilled with irregularities
that create data handover snags. A major issue is using a
non-geographic name for a well, such as BP Unicorn 5A, says
Trudy Curtis, CEO of the Professional Petroleum Data Management
association (PPDM). The name can easily change on later
documents, or someone can reuse the name on an entirely different
well.
Even when a system uses surface geographic coordinates to
identify a well, (commonly called a universal well identification,
or UWI), modern drilling technology can quickly make it
obsolete. Several years ago, Carr was working with a company
that was developing a new shale play in Western Canada called
the Duvernay. The Alberta regulators UWI is based upon the
wells surface geographical location, using township and range
designations. But the company was using horizontal drilling
technology, which meant that the bottomhole location for a
horizontal wellbore was at an entirely different township and
range location. Some wells had several different boreholes, which
complicated matters tremendously, because you would have log
sets for each borehole under the same UWI. By the time we had 20
wells drilled, you couldnt identify what belonged where with any
accuracy.

Interdiscipline problems

While handoffs can be confused by well-name issues, many of


the major complications arise due to the ways that different
disciplines use data. The initial interpretation of seismic
is commonly referred to as the shared earth model (SEM).

58 | Oilfield Technology November 2016

Geophysicists take seismic data and, using complex software


applications, calibrate that data with well logs, petro-physical
(rock formation) information and formation top picks to create
a sophisticated picture of what the subsurface looks like. This
model then has to be up-scaled and reformatted to fit the input
requirements of reservoir simulation programmes (RSPs), says
Crompton. The challenges these days are to get more data about
the stratigraphy and fluid properties from the seismic model for a
better understanding of the reservoir.
But the handoff between SEM and RSP is complicated by
the fact that the SEM contains an immense amount of data,
which is often difficult to shoe-horn into other applications.
When geophysicists work with seismic data, they are creating
interpretations based upon granularity on the millisecond scale,
says Carr. But when you pass that over to reservoir simulation,
that huge mass of data is too large for their simulation programs
to run in realistic time frames, so they discard 90% of the data.
This creates much less detail, which is especially important if you
are trying to delineate stratigraphic or fluid boundaries.
The issue is further complicated when the SEM and RSP
models are handed off to drilling. Engineers use the models to
design the wellbore from surface to its final destination, often
through dangerous zones. Todays challenge is more than just
identifying the desired bottomhole location and letting the driller
take it from there, says Crompton. Complex well paths need to
avoid drilling hazards (salt, low pressure zones, etc.) as well as
follow specific horizontal drilling paths to enable wellbores to
stay within a shale reservoir for thousands of feet. This integration
requires a close coordination between the subsurface model and
the proposed and actual drilling path.
Even among disciplines such as engineering, significant
handover impediments emerge. Crompton was employed as the
IT manager for his companys offshore business unit. The facilities
drafting group was a part of the business unit IT function, which
was responsible for keeping master plans of each platform. The
drafting group worked primarily from two-dimensional plans and
documents.
The problem with paper-based design is that the original
copies are rarely accurate after the facility begins operating; when
building a facility, there are changes to the plans right from the
start. But if no one gets back to the drafting group whenever
a pipe or valve or connector is altered, they dont know what
is actually out there, says Crompton. When it came time to
do an upgrade to a platform, the drafting group had to send a
technician out to survey what was actually there. It added weeks
of unnecessary delay to the project.
Several years ago, when a new platform was required,
Cromptons company hired an EPC engineering firm that was using
some of the most advanced CAD/CAM digital design software.
The EPC firm created a design model that was rich in valuable
detail. The problem was that the operator couldnt handle the
model; they could have spent US$30 000 annually in software
license and storage fees, but they didnt want to, so the EPC
created mountains of paper plans, change orders and equipment
descriptions, and threw it over the wall.
In all, poor handovers can create expensive do-overs, cause
the loss of valuable data and allow potentially hazardous drilling
situations to occure. Even abandoning a well can have serious
hurdles. Take the situation of a company that goes bankrupt,

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abandoning some of its wells, says Curtis. The responsibility to


deal with the abandoned wells often falls back on the regulator,
but they may not have sufficiently-accurate information, as the
only information available may be what the company filed as
planned for the well, and not what was actually built.

Solutions

Stakeholders agree that overcoming handover issues is not going


to be easy; it is a hydra-headed beast that will require concerted
efforts on many fronts. A significant advance has recently been
made on the issue of well identification. For the last several
years, PPDM has been overseeing the modernisation of well
identification systems in the US and Canada. After consultations
with operators, regulators, vendors and service companies,
the association launched the USA API D12a and the Well
Identification Canada systems. Designed for global application,
the systems allow for the integration of both modern and legacy
data to create UWIs in a manner that eliminates the major
sources of confusion.
Other organisations have been working on the technical
aspects involved with handing data from one set of professional
applications to the next. Major vendors, such as Schlumberger
and Halliburton, have developed integrated suites that allow
geologists to pass data from their interpretation applications to
engineering systems, but corporations (especially those formed
through mergers), may have a host of different vendor applications
embedded in the way their day-to-day work processes. Various
bodies have been working to create vendor-neutral formats in order
to move information from discipline to discipline. Energistics, a
global, non-profit organisation, develops open-exchange standards
for O&G data. It has created WITSml, RESQml, and PRODml,
software mechanisms to move well, reservoir and production
information from application A to application B, regardless of the
proprietary application.
As for inter-disciplinary concerns over handovers, the solution
may not be so much the number of barriers, but the way the issue
is approached in the first place. Most work is done within a silo
because that helps maintain focus; EPC engineers concentrate
on designing a project, and production engineers oversee
operations and maintenance, says Crompton. Each has their
own perspective on data that is central to what they do. The goal
of data management is to create a common data view that each
silo can look at with their unique perspective, whether they are
EPC, operations, geology, geophysics or accounting.
Even when companies value data, they often approach it from a
limited direction. The primary challenge is that users treat data as
a tactical process, as opposed to a strategic process, says Curtis.
A tactical process is one in which the data is used in a
fit-for-purpose solution, such as a seismic interpretation
application; traditionally, data managers are taught to think
of data in such a tactical manner. The geoscientists want it
now, and they want it in a manner that they can immediately
use, says Curtis. But there are many more professions besides
geoscientists who are going to use data; it has to be a corporate
asset capable of interoperability.
Strategic processes, on the other hand, are attached to the
business as a whole, and retain their value and availability to
the entire corporation. Data managers strive to keep the data
above the tactical level, so that it remains an asset throughout the
company and all its myriad users.

60 | Oilfield Technology November 2016

The future

Although technological fixes are valuable, a longer-term solution


to the issue of handovers is going to have to involve the evolution
of both how companies view data, and how O&G data managers
view their profession.
For too many years, the fall-back position in O&G companies
has been to treat data as a secondary consideration, instead
of giving it the critical value it deserves. When recounting her
experience with a firm that had to spend tens of millions of dollars
to duplicate information on a sour gas field that it had lost,
Sue Carr notes that, unfortunately, such lapses are more the norm
than the exception; Companies have to take data management
seriously on a high level, rather than viewing it as glorified clerical
work.
Even when a company promotes a data manager to the
C-suite, the message is still being lost. Chief Information Officers
are usually concerned with the boxes and wires, the bits and
apps, says Carr. They often dont have a clue as to the usage or
value of the information generated by the data. Its like being in
charge of the chicken coop and asking, So, what do you do with
this egg? Theres a big disconnect, one that we have to work to
bridge.
Elevating data management itself is also an important goal
in the effort to not only aid handoffs, but to achieve better
value from data throughout the sector. For decades, O&G data
managers have been recruited from a wide assortment of
backgrounds, everything from computer science, geology and
engineering to such esoteric disciplines as Bible scholarship.
While many industries have developed professional development
programmes for data managers that lay out training, certification
and practices, the O&G sector is just beginning to address these
necessities.
Working with industry, regulators and veteran data managers,
PPDM has created a data management curriculum, and is
overseeing classes that allow junior data managers to achieve
formal certification. The user community needs to trust that data
managers know what they are doing, says Curtis. By pursuing
data as a strategic asset using professionally established norms
and behaviours, we can all build that trust.
Data management is often a subset of IT, often buried in the
operations and earth science groups, says Crompton. Except
for a few companies and jurisdictions, there isnt a recognition of
professional standing for data managers. But the good news is, for
those companies who do recognise the value of data managers,
the light bulb goes on and they realise the many possibilities of
being able to do so much with data.
O&G companies are beginning to understand the vast
potential of digitised information. People still think in terms
of flat sheets of paper, but the train is starting to move out of
the station, says Crompton. Software developers have created
training applications on gaming engines so that operators can
now use the design model created by EPC companies to train
personnel in procedures long before the facility is constructed.
When they finally commission the plant, staff have a year of virtual
experience with various scenarios.
In the longer term, finding fixes to handover bottlenecks will
facilitate the immense potential of big data, allowing operators
to implement forecasting and analytics based upon superior
digital data quality. The better the data model, the better the
prediction, says Crompton.

DATA MANAGEMENT
ANDREW DUCA, HONEYWELL PROCESS SOLUTIONS, USA, EXPLAINS HOW DATA MANAGEMENT IS
BEING OPTIMISED IN TODAYS IIOT-ENABLED DIGITAL OILFIELD.

y installing sensors and software to make upstream oil


and gas assets smart, and applying deep analytics to
understand the information they generate, operating
companies are seeking to improve safety, increase productivity, and
unlock hidden value and profits.
Today, however, the rise of Big Data enabled by the emergence
of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) raises critical challenges
with regards to data management, consistency, collection and
analysis. It also creates significant opportunities for those prepared
to capitalise on Industrial Internet-based technology.
So what is the current outlook for data management in the digital
oilfield, where new IIoT-enabled solutions are empowering operators
to make faster and better operational decisions to improve their
businesses? Most importantly, how can energy producers embrace the
IIoT to effectively leverage the rich operational insights it generates?

Introduction

In the oil and gas industry, the need for improved productivity,
efficiency and safety measures has driven the growth of more
automated and intelligent operations. Exploration and production
(E&P) companies face a volatile market that requires effective
methods to control costs, locate new reserves, and meet stringent
regulatory and environmental standards.
The projected shortfall in available manpower and the absence
of the skills of retiring workers places new demands on upstream
operations. Industry observers believe more than 100 000 new workers
will be needed in the next decade to cover the retirement of baby
boomers.

An uncertain economy and falling oil prices have led to a change


in focus for integrated oil and gas firms that are looking less towards
investment in expansion and growth, and turning instead to improving
efficiency, reliability and productivity. Organisations focused on
optimisation can gain new operational insights by analysing diverse
sets of physics, non-physics, and cross-disciplinary data.
The deployment of tens of thousands of new intelligent
sensors has resulted in a data explosion in the petroleum
sector. Unfortunately, as estimated by data analytics firm
Teradata, upstream operators lose US$8 billion per year through
non-productive time (NPT) as engineers spend a huge majority of
their time searching for, manipulating and managing production and
asset data (up to 70%).1
Upstream operators are trying to address their biggest problems
by getting data up into the enterprise layer, where they can optimise
not only individual sites but the entire business. Furthermore, they
must find ways to securely bring data into the cloud to leverage
a larger ecosystem of process licensors and original equipment
manufacturers (OEMs) all to better solve their specific problems
and challenges.

Promise of the Industrial Internet

Advances in wireless communication and remote telemetry have


made it possible to automate and control production sites in widely
dispersed geographical areas, as commonly found in the exploration
and production (E&P) environment. This has led to the development
of innovative remote operations and asset monitoring applications
involving the Industrial Internet.

| 61

Unlike some emerging technologies surrounded with hype, IIoT is a


very real thing with tremendous opportunities right here and now. This
network of networks uses the internet to connect people, processes and
assets, enabling a new way to optimise business results. It leverages:
Smart connected assets.
Enterprise integrated automation.
Secured cloud-based data.
Advanced analytics.

For oil and gas companies, the IIoT promises to be a key business
enabler with the ability to help drill wells faster and cheaper,
increase production, improve recovery rates, enhance organisational
collaboration, and realise greater profitability in these margin
compressed times.
The IIoT is about capturing data, analysing it to locate efficiencies,
and taking advantage of those efficiencies to achieve greater profitability.
It is also about combining advanced information technology, automation
and instrumentation to provide a support platform for remote field data
and optimised operations. Upstream operators can use analysis and
data management tools to provide insight into field processes, leading to
a safer and more efficient oilfield.
Thanks to the IIoT, smart elements such as sensors, measuring devices,
and actuators can exchange data in real time, so they can be monitored,
integrated, configured, optimised, and managed and even manage
themselves. These elements are connected by a wireless network and,
utilising purpose-built applications, send their combined and integrated
data to servers for storage, retrieval, processing and analysis.

Dealing with Big Data issues

The IIoT is driving new approaches to Big Data, smart connected assets
and predictive analytics across petroleum exploration and production.
As the latest wave of digitisation takes hold, equipment becomes more
intelligent. IIoT systems are able to bring in data from every important
area of the oilfield that affects performance. That data, in turn, can be
used to improve efficiency, protect workers, monitor assets, and allow
for better environmental stewardship.
It is a fact that many organisations in the upstream industry collect
so much data that they may feel like they are suffocating from it. This
is primarily because efforts have been focused on generating data
and warehousing it for future analysis. The IIoT will challenge their
capabilities, skills, processes and tools with complexity and scale, as well
as new governance implications.
Before the emergence of the Industrial Internet, there were already
vast amounts of data for production engineers, operations managers
and other personnel to sift through to determine if their site or facility
was operating at expected levels. Add the growing number of data
sources created by countless connected devices and systems measuring
untold factors about oil and gas processes, and there is an overwhelming
volume of information.
For example, a single offshore platform produces terabytes of
data each day, but its uplink capabilities typically cannot support the
accompanying volume and frequency of data transmission, which often
exceed that of a traditional wired local network.
Large integrated oil companies have traditionally focused on
collecting operational and asset data, supplying it to historian
applications and alarming it as needed. Due to the advent of the IIoT,
they now require tools to help put Big Data in context and handle vast
amounts of new information crucial to the enterprise.

Embracing digital transformation

Instead of creating an industrial data quagmire, the millions of


connected devices and assets that make up the IIoT offer a compelling

62 | Oilfield Technology November 2016

opportunity for business prosperity in the years ahead. Effective


strategies are available to companies struggling to extract meaningful
information from the tremendous volumes of raw data being generated.
By comprehensively and strategically managing all data sources,
energy producers can derive actionable intelligence from once-disparate
data streams and gain real time situational awareness of their
operations. This enables better decision making to improve operations
and businesses processes.
Leading automation suppliers are delivering advanced technology
platforms to the oil and gas industry, helping operators demystify Big
Data and harness its potential. Their objective is to eliminate the manual
workflows and inefficient models of the past to unify information and
gain intelligence from traditionally siloed sources of data.
With IIoT, the benefits that flow from new, highly scalable
deployment strategies, smarter devices, more effective data collection
and analytics, and broader reach through mobile applications are
tremendous. However, achieving these benefits requires an orderly
transition from the controls of today to the system of the future. Indeed,
the impact of additional demand for data on the existing components
of an automation system needs to be managed. There is little point in
enabling new forms of application if the needs of those applications
compromise the core mission of the automation system.
There are three important aspects to the IIoT, which, if mastered,
have the potential to deliver huge value. The first is data consolidation.
Multiple disparate systems of data have to be brought together. Only
then is it possible to identify the root causes of problems that simply
were not visible before. Second is the ability to move that data, in a
secure fashion, from the plant into enterprise systems where it can
be used to leverage the advanced analytics and expertise that exists
across the organisation. The third essential aspect of the IIoT is the
ability to securely tap the domain expertise of an entire ecosystem
of partners in the cloud, where other organisations can help solve
additional problems. It is not just about monitoring, it is about taking
diagnostic knowledge and embedding it in an application that can
predict and prevent failures.2
It is important to remember that the IIoT is not just about capturing
sensor data. Information needs to be put into the asset context merely
operating on tag-based data will not ensure a repeatable and scalable
solution. Processes are instrumented for control rather than reliability
or optimisation, and as a result, much of the derived data important
for prediction and decision making is locked in spreadsheets and other
tools. It is essential to continuously calculate this data and bring it into
the IIoT environment.
It should also be noted that IIoT solutions cannot rely solely
on a statistical model to detect deviations from normal. Having a
fundamental, physics-based model creates a digital twin of the process,
allowing users to model and compare expected process performance
against actual results and use these deviations as early indicators of
asset health degradation.

Putting IIoT solutions to work

Recent development of IIoT-based solutions aggregates disparate and


isolated data sets and systems, and applies machine learning to expand
visibility into real time conditions in an operation. This holistic view or
single source of truth, which helps users derive actionable intelligence
from data streams and determine the best operational decision or
process improvement, is the basis for the next generation of digital
oilfields.
For upstream operators, the intelligence and situational awareness
enabled by IIoT-driven applications can minimise the potential for well
or pipeline leaks, and provide analytical views of affected areas if an
incident occurs. Likewise, it can help operators prioritise their actions

by expanding the view of alarms across all systems. System awareness


can pinpoint the most advantageous time for asset maintenance or
replacement eliminating untimely repairs that can result in downtime
and huge capital expenditures.
Deploying IIoT-enabled solutions also allows control room and
field operators to utilise robust operational data to optimise their
approach to filling customer orders, bringing new products online,
pushing production output, and scheduling preventive maintenance. For
example, deployment of a cloud-based IIoT application with advanced
data analytics allows for rapid discovery of the root cause of process
performance issues, as well as implementation of an online, predictive
monitoring solution.
Advancement of the IIoT is further spurring the move towards
centralisation to cope with the departure of skilled employees and
loss of intellectual property within organisations. Industrial Internet
technologies are at the heart of remote operational strategies, which
allow operators to monitor and manage operational activities across
multiple facilities from anywhere within a network of sites, leading to
better collaboration between staff and process optimisation across
locations. Sites can be connected to each other, either through a
central facility or via a network of interconnected collaboration centres,
supporting real time collaboration, resolving challenges quickly and
improving production/yield over the full lifecycle.
Instead of deploying applications in a control system at a site,
organisations can now put them in the cloud. This approach eliminates
the need for data management at the plant, makes more data available
in those applications from multiple sites, and delivers new value.
Whereas independent plants once had to calculate their own key
performance indicators (KPIs), the corporation can see real, unrefined
data with the same KPI calculation across all plants to arrive at a better
performance analysis.2

Remote collaboration, optimisation and operations solutions


also improve safety for employees in hazardous environments, as
they can learn from their colleagues who may not even be physically
present in the same location. They benefit companies that want to
grow geographically while making sure they share knowledge so as to
continue being as efficient as possible.
The implications of cyber security cannot be overlooked when
putting IIoT solutions to work. It is crucial to partner with an automation
vendor dedicated to protecting data infrastructure, and offering effective
tools and techniques to address the rising threats of cyber attacks on
industrial assets.
Regardless of their level of interest in IIoT, oil and gas firms are wise
to embrace change and realise that transformation of the digital oilfield
is ongoing. Users can get started with initial applications, partnering
with suppliers, to gain experience and understanding that will help in the
implementation of mega-projects. Suppliers and their customers can
employ joint innovation programmes to prove IIoT concepts and put the
technology to work where it is most beneficial.

Conclusion

While obstacles must still be overcome, a growing number of E&P


organisations are recognising the performance benefits enabled by
the IIoT. The potential operational and business advantages and cost
reductions that can be unleashed through enhanced automation,
instrumentation, connectivity, and analytics in upstream oil and gas are
more than sufficient to justify IIoT technology investments.

References
1.
2.

Stay informed

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oil and gas news

www.oilfieldtechnology.com

Teradata, Reduce operational complexity to cut NPT, www.teradata.com/industryexpertise/oil-and-gas/ Accessed 27 July (2016).
LaWell, M., When Honeywell Talks About IoT, Big Data is a Big Deal, IndustryWeek, 8
December, 2015. www.industryweek.com Accessed 27 July (2016).

Coming up next month


December

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Aquaterra

- Regional Report: Global outlook


- Well control
- Drilling optimisation
- LWD/MWD
- Drilling fluids
- Tubulars equipment & services
- Completions technology
- EOR
- Oilfield chemicals
- Subsea umbilicals, risers &
flowlines

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