InnovOil checks out how field designers and operators can benefit from visualisation solutions

BIG data is becoming an increasingly vital part of oil and gas operations. The companies who harness that data to provide insights into operations and gains in efficiency will ultimately succeed in making themselves market-secure for the next generation, despite any changes to oil consumption.

Visualisation software is a vital asset for turning these disparate data streams into an easily understood format. By laying the information out visually, connections that might be lost in the form of ones and zeroes are rendered lucid to a human operator.

InnovOil spoke to FutureOn senior vice president of global accounts Darrell Knight about his company’s FieldTwin visualisation software and the advantages it can bring to field designers and operators.

“Our visual tools allow people to see and use their data in a way they’ve never really experienced before,” Knight said.

FieldTwin gives a subsea field engineer the ability to create “the digital twin of the field,” a realistic simulation built up of assets and infrastructure. The cloud-based service creates “a living breathing digital document in 2D and 3D that can be accessed from anywhere by anybody,” Knight said.

“If someone has various data files associated with their project, we bring those things into a visual 3D environment,” Knight explained. “We interface on the well planning side in partnership with a number of different companies to visualise where the most ideal location of wells might be.”

Assets have metadata associated with them, providing information about their real world analogue. This may be information about a pipeline’s length, its diameter, material, pressure, etc. Relationships between assets can be gauged and altered to help plan a field.

“The field planners can start laying out their field and click on a pipeline and have all the relevant metadata pooled from existing libraries sent through our integrated ATI directly to their algorithms and get a result back right within the software,” Knight said.

“Click on a pipeline and it’ll give you a flow assurance graph or it’ll give you a production estimate based on what you know right now and it helps you work through the process in a very efficient manner. You don’t have to design a field before you start doing any flow assurance work.”

While FieldTwin was designed for use by EPCs for field planning during the preFEED stage of a field’s life, it can also be used by operators during the later stages as a maintenance tool.

“We’re building out FieldTwin to be more about updating and maintaining a field, with things like operational excellence, asset integrity, maintenance use cases,” Knight said.

“By creating this evolving digital twin of the field, the content itself is much more risk averse,” Knight added. “The value becomes more about reducing risk and reducing liability by making sure that the virtual field representation is constantly up to date and accurate.”

Gaming the system

FieldTwin utilises an intuitive user interface, making it easy to pick up and learn. “Our developers are from the gaming industry, so it’s using the same principles of user interface, of functionality and performance to make it fully optimised,” Knight said. Assets are moved around with a simple drag-and-drop system.

By having a plan for a field sorted, a field designer is able to save time and money by avoiding having to bring in consultants during the pre-engineering phase.

“That’s a very expensive process, and it can take a long time, it can take months,” Knight explained. “Our clients effectively eliminated the need to bring in anyone from the outside because they’ve integrated it with various tools. They’ve got the costing information in there and the accuracy of the data is high enough to feel comfortable about the concepts they bring together.

“The ability to understand at any moment in time what your estimated capex and potentially opex for that field is likely to be helps you make the right decisions as early as possible,” Knight said. “That means the process is significantly sped up on the field planning side. We have clients where it used to take weeks or months to come up with any kind of concept field. Now, in a couple of days, they can knock out two or three viable alternatives and then they can move very quickly into a proposal process into the pre-FEED type area.

“You can present the entire concept field using our tools and so they’ve reduced the times from weeks and months to, in some cases, maybe days. They can put a very quick field together in a matter of hours. Depending on the complexity of the field and the amount of data they have available to build on, a company can save 80-90% of the time, and that of course saves a huge amount of money at the pre-FEED stage.”

FieldTwin also creates value over the lifetime of the field. An accurate digital simulation of a field can see a field de-manned, as physical operators are unnecessary, removing humans from dangerous offshore environments.

“By having much more intuitive access to the field, all the data that’s being generated from sensors is going to allow them to make those offshore platforms a lot less expensive because there’ll be fewer people on them, which is typically the highest cost,” Knight explained.

“They’re able to reduce the risk, which is a lot of the insurance cost, the risk and liability of individuals out in high-risk situations.”

Synergy

Of course, FieldTwin relies on a client effectively managing its data. This means that a company that both produces a lot of data from its field, through the use of various sensors and monitors, and stores it in an easily accessible manner will have an advantage over less data-savvy companies.

“There are companies that are developing what are called data lakes, which are effectively an internal data aggregation and normalisation of all their data files,” Knight said.

“The ability to make it useful is dependent on a company’s flexibility about how we integrate with their data,” Knight said. “It takes us three to six months to successfully bring a customer on board, although they will be able to use the software from out of the box effectively.

“It takes time and energy to integrate and we do a lot of that work. Part of the challenge in the digitalisation of this industry is that everyone has their own set of data challenges which are quite different from each other.”

FutureOn aims to make FieldTwin the industry standard for oilfield visualisation software. “But it’ll be an open standard,” Knight noted. “What we don’t want to do is to lock into proprietary formats or anything like that.”

Other companies can create and save their own assets for other companies to use. This synergy will assist FieldTwin in providing an immense library of common oilfield equipment, as well as helping EPCs promote their products. As more clients come on board, more assets and more information will come on stream.

“Because of the cost, companies want to use less custom equipment and they want to use lower cost equipment,” Knight said. “Enabling a dialogue as a digital discussion between well planners and field planners is one aspect that we are working with.”

“Subsea 7 are putting all their riser bundles as unique assets to make available to the industry,” Knight noted. “They have begun using our products to be able to make concept fields that use their equipment as opposed to other people’s equipment, so it helps them kind of put together a bid process more efficiently.

“McDermott’s the same: they partner with Baker Hughes as the equipment provider, so they want to be able to showcase a lot of Baker Hughes’ technology as part of their proposals.”

“We are trying to help people collaborate in a more efficient way,” Knight said. “It’s all about driving efficiency and saving money, from the concept phase all the way to production becoming cost-effective and able to support a low per barrel price of oil.”