Data In The Digital Oilfield

September 21, 2016

The following piece is an excerpt from the DISYS Whitepaper, ‘Bridging The Gap: The Digital Oilfield & Its Data.’ Download the full whitepaper here.

The modern digital oilfield uses real-time operations data from the field in a continuous cycle of production analysis, optimization and detailed reservoir management. SCADA or distributed control systems acquire diverse operational data from permanent subsurface well instrumentation, flowline network sensors and surface facilities; as well as managed field actuator equipment such as control valves.

This capability supports real-time operation control and shutdown in an immediate timescale. Beyond that, field data can be integrated into production management software over the medium term to allow accurate and ongoing evaluation, analysis and optimization to take place. Over longer timescales of months to years, assets integrate field data to construct, calibrate and run numerical subsurface simulators and economics to plan the best field development scenarios.

O&G companies must capture and manage more data than ever before—and that information is being churned out at an ever-increasing velocity. According to industry analyst firm IDC, the digital universe now includes 2.7 zettabytes of data. (A zettabyte equals almost 1.1 trillion gigabytes.) Companies are struggling to store, analyze, and gain useful information from these huge volumes of data.

In the Microsoft ‘Global Enterprise Big Data Trends’ report, nearly 300 IT decision makers from a variety of industries were surveyed and 62 percent of respondents currently store at least 100 terabytes of data, and 32 percent expect the amount of data they store to double in the next two to three years. And the vast majority of these professionals view the ability to use growing data volumes as an important business asset.

For O&G firms, advances in instrumentation, process automation, and collaboration are increasing data volumes even faster. Experts believe these volumes are growing by a factor of five each year.The data volume is coming from sensors, spatial and GPS coordinates, weather services, seismic data, and various measuring devices. Other sources include data market feeds, social media, email, text, images and multimedia. Much of this data is ‘unstructured’ or ‘semi-structured,’ which means it’s difficult or costly to either store in traditional data warehouses or routinely query and analyze.

Millions of smart elements can be sending real-time data 24/7, so data sets and data flow can be huge. Since a single rig can generate one terabyte of data each day, the total amount of data that passes through a digital oilfield can be potentially petabyte-sized (1015 bytes) or larger per day.

Today there are hundreds of technologies developed to improve efficiency, assist deep water drilling and provide better information for improved safety and disaster response, as well as improve information sharing and remote operations. However, for many companies, challenges still remain in rolling out the digital oilfield concept to all its operations, as well as effectively managing the increased amount of data being recorded.

Shell sees the digital oilfield of the future as encompassing increased fiber optic wells and Advanced Reservoir monitoring, as well as ensuring all assets have the ‘appropriate level of smartness’ applied to them. BP has similar goals to roll out its Field of the Future Technologies across its assets. If the oil price remains low, optimizing all this technology and wealth of data it provides for enhanced oil recovery, increased safety and efficiency will remain paramount.