Improvements in well delivery efficiencies reduce risk

Companies that embrace digital transformation are poised to leverage efficiency and reduce risk for wellsite operations.

By Dr. Alex Edwards November 30, 2022
Courtesy: Ikon Science

With oil and gas companies operating 24 hours a day and experiencing increasing cost pressures, wellsite delivery logistics play an increasingly crucial role in a company’s success. Diagnosing and adapting activity at the wellsite in real time can produce significant savings. Companies that embrace digital transformation are poised to leverage such advantages.

Delivering wells that are not only operationally safe and energy efficient but also have minimum environmental footprint involves input from many stakeholders. Team members who manage formation evaluation and reservoir engineering, well placement, geohazards, drilling and well design, geology and geophysics, procurement and contracts, and wellsite operations must share data outside their departments. Each discipline’s data inputs must harmoniously work together for successful well delivery.

One of the challenges in orchestrating this complex process is that many data components used to build overall well delivery (including, but not limited to: targets, horizons, risks, costs, casing plan, fluids and mud programs) are continually updated throughout the well planning procedure. Manually evaluating the myriad results of several new plans and reports, while also managing the approvals of numerous stakeholders, is extremely inefficient and wastes valuable time that could be used to focus on items that matter.

These approaches are indicative of the traditional siloed methods used for decades to plan wells, which rely on spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations and notepads filled with call and email summaries. These outdated methods lead to poor communication between multidisciplinary teams, an inability to capture steps involved in previously performed and current work, and difficulties in executing iterations in a timely manner—ultimately resulting in inconsistencies due to manually transferring volumes of information between various programs and legacy databases.

A digital toolset

Employing digital tools to experience true digital transformation can improve the status quo. Up until recently, the industry’s focus concerning well delivery has concentrated on productivity, leading to new well footage records continuously set across global plays because of improvements to the rate of penetration (ROP) and faster drilling. While productivity is valuable, the trend now is delivering the most efficient wells, or wells with the best possible output per unit of time upon evaluating all drilling activities within each well section. Simply put, when the correct things are done correctly, companies can achieve maximum efficiency and productivity.

This approach is the fundamental framework of any digital transformation initiative and weaves together technology, data, processes and organizational change in a seamless way that mirrors how users undertake any given workflow to ensure a more streamlined well delivery process. Leveraging technology that enables team members to access the right data and knowledge at the right time to make more accurate decisions—rather than adding more tools to their toolkit—yields positive and lucrative changes in the field. It’s critical to underpin a modern workflow with data and knowledge that enable systems to seamlessly share all the rich data inputs needed to enhance the entire well delivery process.

One way to approach this is by implementing knowledge management solutions that add great value and unlock previously inaccessible insights. This not only impacts activity in the field but also affects the bottom line. As an example, knowledge management solution Curate enables instant access to the large amounts of data an oil and gas company possesses through any web-enabled device, so that stakeholder location is no longer an issue when it comes to monitoring wells. This capability immediately empowers producers and operators to make more accurate and safer decisions in real time. Integrating all offset well data—well log, seismic, lab, LOT, drilling history, pack offs, swab surge, core data and more—into a single workspace allows immediate access to all stakeholders and provides enhanced decision-making ability in all circumstances.

A knowledge management solution enables access to large amounts of data through any web enabled device. Courtesy: Ikon Science

A knowledge management solution enables access to large amounts of data through any web enabled device. Courtesy: Ikon Science

Bridging the gap

This efficiency improvement crucially bridges the gap between subsurface and operations so wells can be reached as quickly—and safely—as possible while drilling is continuously optimized. This open approach benefits each aspect of the well delivery process: early prospect and play evaluation; drill and drop decisions; leveraging subsurface and engineering assessments in planning and selecting well design concepts; well testing; execution; well monitoring; and preparing final reports.

The following three key guidelines help oil and gas companies leverage digital transformation to improve well delivery:

  1. Data management: The quality, consistency and accuracy of data each stakeholder collects and manages affects a knowledge management solution’s ability to enhance the team’s decision making. Best practices include storing and sharing well plans and designs in useful formats as well as capturing drilling experiences in these workings to leverage insights. Properly assigning metadata stored in reports maximizes complex data’s value, allowing it to be utilized in wellsite decisions. As multiple iterations of data are constantly collected, employing the same data format across every stage helps prevent data corruption.

  2. Collaborative workflows: Embracing a data-centric architecture ensures all data and workflows are continuously updated so operators use the most current learnings. Committing to iterative and dynamic workflows allows companies to evaluate uncertainties in models and become empowered to make the most informed decisions possible to avoid wells and scenarios that could lead to lost time and money.

  3. Knowledge accessibility: If data and interpretations are locked away, an operator cannot extract critical value from them—value that could mean the difference between a cost overrun, or worse, a failed well campaign. It’s best practice to allow all stakeholders visibility into all datasets, so that notifications and alerts can be set on any occurring updates.

The oil and gas industry now evolves so rapidly that neither companies nor the technologies they use can afford to be rigid. Rigidity prevents change. The siloed approach to data interpretation and decision making is no longer viable, as it leads to lost opportunities, cost overruns and suboptimal decisions – increased risks.

The crux of this modern workflow lies in appreciating and advancing communication between multidisciplinary teams. Such unconstrained knowledge sharing is essential to properly understand the risks and opportunities present in each decision—in real time. Providing each stakeholder data access that enhances their ability to perform their unique role in the wellsite dramatically improves well delivery to produce a better bottom line.


Author Bio: Dr. Alex Edwards is chief product manager at Ikon Science.