Shell's deepwater data

Feb. 17, 2014

Exception-based surveillance employs smart assets for closed-loop decision-making

Shell Exploration and Production produces 3.3 million barrels of oil equivalent per day, and its fuel retail network has around 44,000 service stations. With more than 90,000 employees active in more than 70 countries, Shell is consuming big data, especially with its activities in the Gulf of Mexico, using exception-based surveillance (EBS), which employs smart assets for closed-loop decision-making.

“Our pillars of EBS are advanced alarming for performance anomalies; workflow orchestration, or role-based workflow, which supports efficient service flow; situational awareness or visibility; and knowledge management,” explained Tom Moroney, manager, deepwater technology deployment and geoscience, expertise, at Shell. “The IT integration platform includes data tools, such as ED, PI, PU, IPSM, and OFM.”

Shell does more than 310,000 calculations per day in real time, all automated, said Moroney, who spoke at ARC Forum in Orlando, Florida. Better information means better decisions, and fewer of them require human labor. For example, 2,000 detected alerts result in about 1,000 initiated services. Of those, about 400 become completed services, and about 250 actions are carried out, he explained. “We've been in operation with the system since early 2010, and it's paid for itself fourfold since then,” said Moroney. Critical ingredients include end element, measurement, data capture, and historian; processing engine and alarm/alert engine; workflow engine and management; knowledge capture and feedback loop; situational awareness; operational intimacy; and operational, remote control.

“It's about our Smart Solution Platform (SSP) vision,” said Moroney. “Assets send business signals, which come from anticipation based on quality field data. SSP underpins our overall competitive analytics strategy. It starts with some basic reporting queries. That technology has been around for decades. Shell has been a pioneer in the deepwater for more than 40 years. A lot of it sits in the Gulf of Mexico. We have seven floating structures and four fixed structures in the Gulf of Mexico, along with two Brazil FPSOs and around 200 wells. The two most recent installations — Perdido spar and Olympus Mars B — are in the Gulf of Mexico. The levels of complexity and instrumentation in these systems have grown. The Perdido spar, for example, one of the most recent installations in the Gulf of Mexico, has more than 20,000 PI tags. As we look forward, things will get more complex in terms of the lifting and boosting capabilities. The reservoirs are complex.”

The Mars B well was opened from the control room onshore. “That TLP's first oil was turned on from the office,” said Moroney. “How do we change the way we're doing engineering surveillance? How can we move from a world based on who showed up at a desk and what that individual did? We want to create a capability where the equipment and wells were talking with us in real time. That led us to exception-based surveillance. It's all about closed-loop decision-making. We wanted smart assets — smart wells, smart reservoir, and smart facility management.”

EBS involves operating the assets, gathering and managing data through surveillance, analyzing and optimizing, and then prioritizing to execute. As the business case emerged, there was increased technical and business complexity, too. “Asset portfolios are growing in size and complexity, and this requires support from more experienced staff,” explained Moroney. “Complex systems demand more data and information be processed. Workforce demographics tell us that, in 10 years, a large percentage of the workforce will be retiring. Exception-based surveillance is understanding what that operating envelope is for the system as a whole, understanding where we need to be to optimize that envelope. How do we identify much earlier when we began to operate outside of that sweet spot?”

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