The goal behind the digital oilfield is to optimize oilfield operations through the provision and implementation of data and analysis tools. These digital methodologies are becoming more common in logistics and machinery monitoring - areas that can be translated from other industries. The Holy Grail still remains providing real-time, reliable production data.

Access to this sort of information could lead to significant financial upside for operators – but only if the wellhead metrics and measurements that matter can be relied upon. Otherwise, gains will be limited, not cost-effective, and the changes may even risk handicapping performance.

 “The reality is that growth and success are no longer based on continually increasing production,” Giles Edward, CEO, M-Flow explains. “By emulating the success of parallel industries that have embraced new digital technologies and integrated workflows, producers can start to build resilience to future market volatility and work towards the long-term prosperity of their companies.”

Transforming to a digital oilfield could add almost $1 trillion to the world’s economy by 2025, according to a study by Oxford Economics. “If upstream wants a slice of that pie it will need to invest in technologies that unlock value by enabling better decision-making processes,” Edward adds.

According to Edward, that means an ethos of seeking innovation in the gathering and analysis of data, or as he puts it a Silicon Valley state of mind. “A culture where decisions are led by the data,” he says. “A willingness to swiftly move from assessment to action. These values and the state of mind they encourage aren’t limited to Silicon Valley, but they are frequently found there.

“With the right information, there are significant gains to be made. Take wellhead monitoring for example. Access to consistently reliable and accurate data enables producers to understand better and manage production. Industry case studies show significant increases in production rates and overall recovery.

“The industry can use digitization to reduce its environmental and safety footprint while reshaping itself for the workforce of the future. The digital oilfield means lower emissions and better detection of leaks. More focused manning results in less exposure to hazardous environments and creates employment profiles better suited and more attractive to the next generation of digitally-skilled workers.”

The industry is still at an early stage in oilfield digitization, especially in the most dynamic market onshore in North America. The numerous challenges in developing an oilfield from drilling to shipping mean that management resources are thinly spread and risk management tends to lead to the implementation of the known, rather than the adoption of innovation.

“From a measurement perspective, the basic approach, complete with its uncertainties and inefficiencies, has remained almost the same for decades – it’s collecting everything, separating it out, and then measuring,” Edward continues. “But this will change as more and more operators adopt digital multiphase measurement methodologies, and the benefits of real-time data and data analytics at the wellhead become more transparent.

“It’s realistic to assume there will come a point when every wellhead that’s built in North America will come with a measurement system embedded, and the provision of data will be an ‘opt-out’ decision rather than ‘opt-in.’”

“It’s not hard for me to see a world in which it will become normal for oilfields to be monitored remotely and technical decisions are taken in real time,” Edward concludes. “Using artificial intelligence and machine learning to gain a deeper understanding of production behaviors and identify anomalies will further enhance the value of data through constant assessments which maximize performance without human intervention.

“However, if these techniques are to become mainstream, this data must be as specific and precise as possible, and data systems must be built in a way that allows large data sets to collected. Reliable multiphase measurement with 24-7 permanent monitoring is the first step towards achieving this vision, and the cornerstone of its future.”

Source: M-Flow Technologies