Data management

Statoil, ABB Among Companies Pushing Integrated Operations Initiatives

Statoil’s integrated operations center on the Norwegian continental shelf is one of several initiatives operators and service companies have set in motion to improve condition monitoring and maximize production on their assets.

The ABB Ability platform portfolio released last year consolidates a variety of data analytic platforms designed to streamline operations. One platform is being used as a basis for the control systems for the Goliat FPSO, servicing the Goliat field owned by Eni Norge and Statoil.
Source: Eni Norge.

Exploration and production companies have long seen integrated operations (IO) as a key innovative strategy for maintaining high production levels. Automation, optimization of processes, and overall data management are the keywords for operators, information technology (IT) companies, and service companies looking to guarantee the maximum exploitation of their available resources. Some of these companies have taken steps recently to make IO system architecture and facilities a more central aspect of their operations.

Integrated Operations Center

In 2018, Statoil will establish a new onshore integrated operations center (IOC) that it says will help increase safety, add value, and reduce emissions from its installations on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS). The company called the IOC an “important step” in its digital roadmap that will enable increased production efficiency and production potential on the NCS.

The IOC is also intended to make data available in a more user-friendly format, providing the operations organization offshore with a better decision-making basis and support. Kjetil Hove, Statoil’s senior vice president for operations technology on the NCS, said that the Åsgard field in the Norwegian Sea and Grane and Gina Krog in the North Sea will be the first fields getting support from the center after its establishment, and that new fields and installations will be gradually integrated to allow time for learning and adjustment to new work processes.

The center will help ensure that production on the fields is optimally efficient at all times, solving bottlenecks through condition monitoring. This will be achieved by means of specialist support within production optimization and preventative maintenance from interdisciplinary teams; for example, within production technology, processing, mechanical, and electrical engineering.

“We are now developing tools that will stream data live from the sensors offshore. The tools will help conduct detailed analyses of the production and the performance of equipment on the installations. One important goal for the center is to identify and prevent operational disruptions,” Hove said in a statement.

Statoil said the IOC’s exact location will be determined later this year. The company will integrate the company’s existing production support centers and condition monitoring centers, which are located in various parts of Norway.

On 9 November, Statoil opened the Valemon control room at Sandsli in ­Bergen. Valemon is the first platform in Statoil’s portfolio to be remote-controlled from land, and while the company currently has no other platforms of this kind it said this solution may be considered for other small- and medium-sized platforms in the future, and remote control may be a central building block of its future operations.

The IOCs and Valemon mark the continuation of a long-term focus on integrated operations that dates back several years. In early 2006, Statoil initiated a research and development project, TAIL-IO, that focused on methods, technologies, and work processes designed to improve operations on late-life fields after production has declined and facilities have begun to age.

The project was divided into six closely linked subprojects, known as technology areas:

  • Condition-based maintenance and performance monitoring. Creating a condition monitoring portal that contains plant condition data on all critical subsea and topside equipment, and supporting work processes at IO centers. This project developed methods for early fault detection, residual life prediction, and for condition monitoring of critical assets like pumps, valves, and electrical, rotating, and static equipment.
  • Corporate decision support model for strategic planning of turnarounds and shutdowns. Developing a tool that accommodates a range of data with the ultimate objective of eliminating asset shutdowns.
  • Wireless communication and sensor systems. Designing new and open communication systems, installing wireless instrumentation to reduce cabling and capital expenditure, and automating maintenance tasks to reduce maintenance man-hours
  • Collaborative visualization tools for preparation, training, executing, and supporting maintenance operations. Developing a tool that can support a wide range of functions to perform maintenance operations and diagnostics, as well as improve the level of assistance from centers of excellence.
  • Mobile information and communications technology (ICT). Focusing on man-machine technology, work processes, and mobile ICT infrastructure to support plant personnel.
  • Robotics. Using robotics technology to supplement and extend human inspection and intervention capabilities at subsea, topside, and onshore facilities. The objective was to develop solutions that combined tele-robotics and advanced visualization to enable remotely operated inspection and maintenance operations.

The consortium, which completed principal work in 2009, developed several standard IO processes in these areas. One project done under the program verified an algorithm that predicted the remaining useful life of machine components, combining economic variables and criticality to the algorithm to enable economic- and safety-based replacement decisions. The consortium also ran a project that developed a solution allowing operators in the field to test fire and gas detectors without any support from the control room, as well as a solution for real-time tracking of containers on Statoil’s onshore bases.
In the midst of TAIL-IO’s operation, IBM, one of the consortium partners, opened its Center for Excellence in Stavanger to boost IO efforts in northeast Europe, Russia, the Middle East, and South Africa, while also collaborating with US-based research and development centers to help develop technologies for intelligent oil fields. The center helped build an integrated information platform (IIP) for IBM’s Integrated Information Framework (IIF), a configurable data-management software program. The IIP focused specifically on practical use in areas such as reservoir studies, drilling, well production, and security and automation systems. Statoil started utilizing the IIF in 2010.

Center Researches Scalable Data Access

In addition, Statoil and IBM have partnered with Schlumberger, DNV, and other IT companies on Sirius, a center opened in November 2015 to research scalable data access methods for oil and gas. The center is scheduled to operate for 8 years, through October 2023.

One of Sirius’ primary areas of research is scalable computing, particularly activities related to the utilization of high-­performance computing (HPC) technologies as a foundation for improved cloud architectures that can more efficiently support data analytics. The researchers have been working on computational performance for applications that require significant quality-of-service guarantees and low-latency communication such as unified infrastructure and scalable in-memory computing platforms.

Sirius has also worked on what it calls “knowledge representation,” the linkage of data to an underlying idea related to a certain system to constitute the domain knowledge for a specific discipline. For example, linking a pump to sensors producing measurements on speed, torque, liquid flow rate, inlet and outlet pressure, and temperature, as well as specifications, requirements, maintenance orders, and invoices.

These linkages specialize in machine-processable representations of domain knowledge that often take the shape of an ontology, a tractable representation of a domain vocabulary and certain facts concerning the domain. Sirius has worked on using ontologies in a variety of contexts:

  • Data integration, where ontologies mediate between data sources by lifting from the level of data to the level of information
  • Data access, where ontologies can be used to present information to end users
  • Requirement management, where ontologies are used to represent, check, and solve complex combinations of definitions and constraints.

A greater understanding of ontologies may help operators make better use of the complex systems that make up their operations. Such systems may include cloud deployment of an enterprise resource planning system, or cyber-physical systems such as the safety and automation system of a rig or an automated drilling system. Sirius is developing means to analyze models in a way that helps operators predict the behavior of complex systems, which can then help them make on-site decisions. Such analysis stretches to areas such as safety properties, timing properties, resource management, and scaling strategies.
Sirius’ study of execution modeling draws on two previous projects, HyVar and Envisage, that dealt with scalable data management. HyVar proposed a framework for hybrid variability to address the evolution of software in a distribution system. The framework combined domain-specific variability language to describe evolution as a software product line with scalable cloud infrastructure for monitoring and individualized customization of software upgrades for remote devices.

Envisage developed a semantic foundation for virtualization and service-level agreements (SLA) that made it possible to develop SLA-aware services that can control their own resource management.

Automation and Sensor Technology

ABB, the company Statoil once appointed to lead the TAIL-IO project, has also long had a history with developing technologies for streamlining operations. Last March, the company commercially launched ABB Ability, a consolidated portfolio of its automation platforms and sensor technologies that had previously been available for operators as separate components. ABB Ability is built on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform.

Statoil currently uses an ABB automation system, System 800xA, for the Sleipner gas platform in the North Sea; ABB supplied a complete distributed control architecture for Sleipner’s subsea and wellhead control systems; integrated safety; shutdown, fire, and gas protection systems; and the carbon capture and storage processes. It is also used to run the upstream operation at BG Group’s Queensland Curtis liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the Surat Basin offshore Brisbane, Australia.

In a keynote address given after the commercial release of the portfolio last year, ABB chief digital officer Guido Jouret said that consolidating the companies IO technologies will help operators “close the loop,” turning data drawn from numerous sources into immediate control decisions that can generate real-time value.

“In many cases, it’s about connecting sensors to devices we already have and creating insights by sensing and analyzing that data. This creates assessments. It could be energy assessments, cyber security, efficiency, a variety of assessments that are increasingly going to be enabled with digital tools. The action to harvest those benefits, to take control, is missing,” Jouret said. 

Another platform, Collaborative Operations, is a cloud-based infrastructure in which remote monitoring centers integrate sensor technology ­gathered by field devices into an operations center. Collaborative Operations is currently being used for Eni Norge’s Goliat FPSO in the Barents Sea, approximately 50 miles off the coast of northern Norway. The control systems for the platform and the onshore substation are also based on 800xA.

“These systems automate the control loop,” Jouret said. “They sense, they analyze, and they take action. It’s through that automation of the loop that we get that ultimate efficiency. We believe that, once you have sensed, analyzed, and acted, you can start over again. You can see the impact of your changes. You can create an environment that is self-learning and that continuously looks to improve.”