Exploiting Your Oil and Gas Production System

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With any objective, anticipation of events makes reaction to those events better. This is no different with production from oil and gas wells and facilities. With most commercial oil and gas production systems, reports and alerts can be configured to allow information to flow to the right person at the right time, and thus trigger any necessary corrective activity to maintain optimum performance. Below, I’ve laid out several steps to help ensure that your production information system works best for you.

1. Invest the time and resources to fully know your oil and gas production system’s capabilities

Pairing your technology with processes and knowledge that support good production management can be a difference-maker in the sustainability of production efforts. In my many years of supporting, designing, and implementing production software across multiple companies, I’ve witnessed the best performance and fewest roadblocks (with the same software package) amongst those that truly invested time and effort to know the software well. Often times, the biggest challenges faced in effectively running a system is knowledge of the system’s capabilities.

2. Know the challenges of the production areas in which you operate

Operations of producing assets can vary significantly between fields, according to the demands of information. Gathering the right information, daily and monthly, and staying informed with data that effects performance is fundamental to the success of the field. The following highlights a couple of common challenges faced in a field, and correlates the aligning information to be captured that addresses those challenges.

Example Challenge #1: A water flood field produces with 200 wells, 25 injectors, treats with chemicals, re-injects water.

Production Information Basics:

  1. Well tests
  2. Casing / tubing pressures
  3. Downtime / downtime Causes
  4. Failure tracking and reporting
  5. Fluid levels
  6. Daily tank gauges & color cutting
  7. Injection well pressures and rates
  8. Chemical treatments and details
  9. Water oil ratios
  10. Variance reports on oil, gas, water rates
  11. Field cum oil & water rate curves, along with individual well oil & water rate curves
  12. Equipment maintenance records (pumping units, water injection plants, etc.)
  13. Regulatory reporting
  14. Allocations
  15. Field sales reconciliations
  16. Water dispatch prioritizations for remote water hauling
  17. Mapping of injectors vs producers with associated injection rates, production rates, WOR profiles.
  18. Tank inventory reports for oil hauling optimization

Example Challenge #2: A gas field that has associated oil & gas lift.

Production Information Basics:

  1. Well tests
  2. Casing / tubing pressures
  3. Line pressures
  4. Downtime / downtime causes
  5. Failure tracking and reporting
  6. Fluid levels
  7. Daily tank gauges & color cutting
  8. Gas lift injected gas measurements
  9. Gas measurements from EFM for entire system
  10. Fuel usage on compressors
  11. Flare and vent gas measurements
  12. Skim oil from gas separation allocations
  13. Daily tank gauges / lact meter readings
  14. Water inventory for hauling optimization

3. Make sure your daily data capture strategy embraces the challenges of the fields you operate

Prior to setting the field system requirements for a given field, think through what needs to be captured for optimum analytics. Communicate to the field personnel the importance of getting this data daily, timely, accurately, and consistently. This will allow them to better operate the wells, and will make their job easier in the long run. Set standards so that consistency across fields can be achieved. I have seen the lack of consistency and standards significantly impact the management of fields. It results in an inability to prioritize issues in a timely manner.

4. Automate reports that alert to actionable tasks

With today’s technologies, report writing has never been so powerful, and yet is often woefully underutilized by oil and gas companies. Well-constructed reports can alert specific users on demand to the most important factors that impact productivity on oil and gas wells. Alerting systems can automatically text or email key people when a well is underperforming, a compressor is down, or other any other event requires action. Most technologies today offer these types of capabilities.

5. Utilize variance reports to spot trends

Indicators that wells are falling off expectations can be seen via a variety of variance reports, so that problems can be better anticipated.

Anticipating a producing field’s operational challenges, and preparing for them using key information, has a significant impact on profitability. And in today’s world of technology, it is less an issue of cost and more a result of discipline and strategy.