Digital technologies, domain expertise deliver results

The ongoing digital transformation in the oil and gas industry has permeated every aspect of the industry’s efforts to ensure safety, optimize operations, reduce emissions, and more. It has brought innovation to where it matters most, enabling companies to create value on an unprecedented scale.

“One of the really exciting things about digital is that it has completely leveled the playing field. It allows companies to drive innovation with little critical mass and create value at an unprecedented scale,” said said Girish Saligram, president and CEO of Weatherford International, at the company’s FWRD digital conference Sept. 20 in Houston.

“When you add to that an extremely deep reservoir of expertise that we have and deep knowledge of the technical field of oil and gas, it becomes a tremendous combination.”

Matt Foder, Weatherford’s senior vice president, innovation and new energy, sees digital technologies as the “fundamental enabler” in the industry’s push for cleaner production barrels.

He added that sensors, edge-based analytics and advances in artificial intelligence through the cloud are better optimizing operations, providing the perspective needed to “focus on the issues that matter. It’s the 80/20 rule. Pay attention to what needs to be and let automation and digital technologies guide you for other less intensive things.

This is exactly what Diversified Energy, an independent oil and gas company based in Birmingham, Alabama, is doing by harnessing the power of digital to help optimize production from its 70,000 assets across nine US states.

Since its initial public offering of shares in 2017, the company has completed more than 20 acquisitions totaling approximately $2.5 billion combined. Its most recent was in July with a $240 million asset purchase, including 1,500 wells in Oklahoma and Texas, from ConocoPhillips.

“Our business model is acquisition. We acquire mature, low-volume, lower-maintenance assets,” said Nathan Bookwalter, vice president of digital operations for Diversified Energy, during the keynote session.

With this model comes the challenge of scale, according to Bookwalter.

“Our acquisitions are our bread and butter. This is how we grow since we don’t drill wells,” he said. “Our strengths come in two flavors. Our Appalachian Basin assets, over 50,000 locations, are very traditional, mostly conventional, but older generation. These are assets you would use SCADA [supervisory control and data acquisition] to make sure it’s still running and in production.

“The other asset class is unconventional; most of them are in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. With these we have a more artificial management of lifts and declines. We are working with a sufficiently mature and well-sized infrastructure, but we are just starting to see that we don’t need as much power, so how do we optimize that? »

The company looked for a SCADA tool that it could standardize on and help it quickly complete an acquisition, resume normal operations and start working on the next purchase, he said.

Diversification of Weatherford’s CygNet SCADA platform to help collect, manage and distribute data and integrate its operations workflows.

“Diversified was a company that had grown from 35 employees and a few hundred wells to 70,000 wells, 1,600 employees, from one state to 11 operating states,” he said. “We wanted something that was a bit more turnkey, out of the box, and industry known to work at enterprise scale.”

Of its 70,000 assets, approximately 15,000 are now on SCADA systems. According to Bookwalter, the first step for the company was to integrate well measurement data into corporate and production accounting systems.

“Above all, it was not a tool for monitoring or optimizing production. It was not a tool designed to reduce windshield time or help us get the most out of a piston lift,” he said, noting that it took about 3 years for the system is evolving more towards a production optimization and monitoring tool.

“With 100,000 counters, most of them old paper card counters, that meant someone had to come on site every month or every 60 days to take that measurement so we would know how much we gained or lost at this specific place,” he said.

“We try to work as fast as possible, and now we don’t have to go to 15,000 locations. That’s a marked reduction in windshield time and labor safety with miles not driven.

The company is working to convert its water transport demands from manual to automatic, he said. Diversified is also starting to do more with the data it collects, identifying ways to further optimize its operations, for example.

“We are just beginning to use data in SCADA here at Diversified, looking at basic trends. Data is just starting to be seen as a value proposition in business,” he said.

“We’ve talked about undertaking optimization efforts where we’ll find the next level of ROI. We found enough to believe that SCADA pays another 20,000.