The journey from concept to adoption of remote operations capabilities in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM) has undergone significant evolution over the years. The effort to date has resulted in the full adoption of three Remote Control Rooms (RCRs) in New Orleans for remote assistance to their associated assets: the Brutus Tension Leg Platform (TLP), Ursa TLP and Perdido SPAR. A fourth RCR is slated to be operational in mid-2010 supporting the Auger TLP. A brief look back shows that factors such as broad stakeholder engagement and support, along with a dedicated project staff working to integrate technology, operations processes and people considerations contributed immensely to the project's success. Furthermore, development of an operating model encompassing principles, policies, performance management, IT support and activity roles/responsibilities has been essential in adoption of the RCRs. At present, plans are under way to extend current RCR capabilities including bringing additional control and monitoring capabilities into the RCR, deferment reduction during hurricane events, and moving additional activities from the asset to a shore-based environment.
The current GoM Remote Assisted Operations (RAO) program was first discussed in early 2005. The initial challenge was to define the scope of the remote operations vision and to identify the extent to which offshore operational tasks could be reliably performed onshore in light of operational, regulatory, economic and environmental constraints, amongst others. However, the progress of the program was put on hold when hurricanes Katrina in August and Rita in September hit the Gulf of Mexico, as all resources were directed at rebuilding and getting production back on line.
By 2007, repairs and production had reached a point that SEPCo was able to re-evaluate what RAO should look like. To come to an agreement around an RAO effort, stakeholder workshops were held, and the entire spectrum of remote operations was evaluated, from remote monitoring to fully unmanned operations. A consensus emerged around the suitability of the "Remote Assist?? concept, greatly enhanced by situating remote operations in the "Monitoring - Surveillance - Optimization?? continuum depicted in Figure 2 below.
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