Service companies vie for market share of digital technologies

Alex Endress, World Oil

The E&P industry’s oilfield service companies seem to be meeting the sector’s digital transformation head-on.

Last week, three large service companies—Baker Hughes, Schlumberger and Weatherford—announced new offerings in the Big Data space. Not long before that, on Aug. 22, Halliburton revealed new digital tools at its LIFE 2017 conference in Houston. The technologies launched by these major companies each use data to automate similar, but different, aspects of upstream oil and gas operations. Here’s a roundup of these new developments, that are part of the E&P industry’s digital transformation:

Baker Hughes, a GE company (BHGE) announced a partnership with KBC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Yokogawa Electric Corporation. The partnership will combine GE’s Predix platform, which digitally connects industrial equipment, with KBC’s Petro-SIM process simulation system, which can utilize data from the equipment to model E&P operations. “Oil and gas customers can build a digital twin of a plant, refinery or rig, that incorporates end-to-end process and operational analytics and machine learning,” said Matthias Heilmann, chief digital officer of BHGE. The partnership will “provide a complete view of all equipment, operations and processes, comparing actual performance to expected outcomes, and enabling predictive actions,” according to the company.

Schlumberger launched two new digital technologies. The first, called DELFI, is a “cognitive E&P environment” that was designed to foster collaboration between silos, and to better-utilize all available data to improve operations. “With the launch of the DELFI environment, we deployed an E&P Data Lake on the Google Cloud Platform, comprising more than 1,000 3D seismic surveys, 5 million wells, 1 million well logs and 400 million production records from around the world,” said Ashok Belani, executive vice president, technology, Schlumberger. Along with the launch of the new cognitive environment, the company also introduced a digital well construction planning solution called DrillPlan, which works in a complementary fashion with DELFI. DrillPlan will use Microsoft Azure and the Azure Stack hybrid cloud solution to give companies access to an abundance of data to create circular workflows, “where plans are improved as new data is added, enabling future drilling programs to benefit from prior experience.”

Weatherford released its new, automated, pipe makeup system called AutoTong. The system utilizes a connection-makeup software called AutoEvaluate. While the pipe makeup system “autonomously determines the appropriate connection parameters, based on the pipe and thread criteria specified by the original equipment manufacturer,” the software “automatically evaluates the connection quality based on high-resolution data,” according to the company. Also, the software does not require a joint-makeup analyst to interpret the data. “By eliminating the element of human error from the physical makeup and connection validation processes, the AutoTong system sharply increases the safety and efficiency of well construction operations,” said Aaron Sinnott, V.P. of well integrity at Weatherford.

Halliburton recently announced a partnership with Microsoft to “digitally transform the oil and gas industry.” The partnership combines the oilfield service company’s E&P services, such as Landmark, with the tech giant’s cloud-computing capabilities. The companies will utilize machine learning and augmented reality with user interactions and the Industrial Internet of Things. The partnership will focus on operations like “applying deep learning to reservoir characterization, modeling and simulation,” according to the companies. Microsoft’s DecisionSpace 365 and Azure technologies will produce “predictive deep-learning algorithms (that) will help optimize field assets, and enable next-generation exploration and deep-earth models by using software to fill gaps in sensor data, while reducing the number of steps and time required to render models.” The partnership also utilizes an open digital architecture.

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Alex Endress

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