Guest Editorial: Production 4.0 Brings Autonomous Management to the Well
- Manoj Nimbalkar (Weatherford International)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- November 2019
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 14 - 15
- 2019. Copyright is retained by the author. This document is distributed by SPE with the permission of the author. Contact the author for permission to use material from this document.
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Most oil and gas operators can reduce their work’s mantra down to a simple quest for excellence: To safely produce more barrels for fewer dollars. For decades, this pursuit has driven technological advances, including fracturing in completions and significant efficiency gains in drilling. However, each of these disciplines has essentially plateaued and further advancement is expected to be incremental at best. Production, however, holds the last remaining frontier for true efficiency gains.
Industry 4.0 is the innovation revolution across all industries. For our own, it now presents a massive opportunity to elevate oilfield production performance to new standards of efficiency, control, and recovery. Early results indicate that operators who harness the power of Production 4.0 capitalize on an easy-to-reach and plentiful resource—their own data.
Building Production 4.0
This concept leverages the next industrial superpower—big data—to empower an organization with operations-level decision making with minimal human involvement. Building Production 4.0 requires four elements, including the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, edge computing, and advanced data analytics.
IoT comprises digitally connected physical devices that add systematic support and efficiencies through empirical data and remote controls. Cloud computing allows these devices to network through Internet-hosted servers that store and manage data while reducing infrastructure and complexity. Edge computing connects intelligent devices to current and historical data so that autonomous decisions can be made where they matter most—at the wellsite. Advanced analytics brings the concepts of IoT, cloud computing, and edge computing together to create an interconnected, intelligent ecosystem that helps oilfield equipment to act as intelligent machines that learn and teach themselves.
Armed with powerful advanced analytics, intelligent ecosystems can glean meaningful, actionable insight from a pristine data source. Personnel no longer have the burden of managing lower-level transactions. Analytics help identify trends and anomalies, which provides opportunities for enhanced efficiency and higher performance. For the oilfield industry, data analytics enables intelligent production machines to improve themselves on the fly. These self-governing systems also predict equipment failures for just-in-time maintenance and allow operators to manage their entire asset by exception.
Software: The Backbone of Production 4.0 Technology
A key building block is an IoT platform, which is evolved from a traditional SCADA system. These are data workhorses that bring all the data streams from every part of an oil and gas operation into a single and unified platform.
Production-optimization software then uses this data to act as a field-wide intelligence system to optimize artificial-lift and surface-facility efficiency. Leveraging this data empowers operators to not only increase equipment run life, but also maximize production while making it as profitable and economically viable as possible. These systems continuously monitor asset performance, give operators remote control over component-level assets, and enable more informed production decisions.
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