what is Digital Oilfield?
sometimes called Smart Oilfields, or intelligent oilfield, in few words; it means running the whole oilfield with smart devices with less personnel.
Why digital Oilfield?
it is important to understand why using such technology, actually; for many reasons such as : running huge oilfield processes , increasing the profits, minimizing human mistakes, minimizing the labor force especially the ones who travel to faraway fields or wells and work in dangerous environments, and finally which is the most important decreasing the cost significantly.
this technology is too important when talking about handling hundreds of signals and possibilities using some special process software, helping us making better decisions and strategy, and sometimes it helps us make a better strategy also.
these software capture the oilfield behavior, visualizing reservoir , wellbore, and gathering facility information and they are able to make simulations and workflows that deal with massive amount of incoming data , process them and give you the ability to take the right decision.
for example it gives you a real-time data about your well such as wellhead pressure, fluid temperature, water cut maybe, and many other useful data that comes from sensors installed in every critical point, it helps you study the well behavior over a certain time, and better understand the problems that may happen, when running an oilfield process; it uses logic workflows and help you overcome the human mistakes by hundreds of interlocks.
what does Interlock mean?
it is a certain setting of operation parameters that guarantee safe operation,
for better understanding the interlock system, see the figure below:
as we see in this figure, when pressing On to run the pump, the signal passes through an interlock system consists of the following signals:
- Liquid Level Low Low Alarm: the pump needs a good suction level, if there is very low level in the tank, it is not safe to operate the pump.
- ESD Valve is ON: this valve have to be open to guarantee a continuous liquid flow to the pump.
- Liquid Level High High Alarm: if there is a very high level in the pump downstream, so its not safe to run it, because the vessel is already full.
- Pressure Alarm High High: running the pump in such case will cause damage to the downstream vessel because of the over-pressure, or may cause a tough back-pressure on the pump.
as we see here it is a protective system, the whole case was studied very carefully, and the designer understood the operation critical points, then designed this unique process to protect it from human mistakes; for example if this system does not exist, an oilfield operator may run the pump without a sufficient liquid level in the tank, or run the pump when the SDV valve is closed!
Does Digital Oilfield means ZERO workers?
as we see, the development of digital oilfield services will reduce the oilfield personnel and labor force, and that is all to reduce the capital cost and the human mistakes; which cause horrible disasters sometimes, hence it is an economic factor when talking about less accidents – less maintenance – less shutdowns , but we still need human oilfield experience, at least to design the software used in this technology, the minimum number of workers to monitor the process, and the most important thing is the field personnel who monitor the filed equipment, sampling , maintenance, calibrating the control systems, close and open the manual valves, detect any unusual sounds or vibration in the rotating equipment, watch the sight glasses and many many other jobs that should be done by oilfield workers.
so, the digital oilfield does not mean ZERO workers, at least in the nearest future.