Thanks for listening to the EKT Interactive Oil and Gas Podcast Network.
In this episode, we welcome Jim Crompton to the podcast. Join us for this discussion on data driven production as part of our Digital Oilfield podcast series.
Remember, our listeners get $400 off the registration price (use code EKT400) to the Upstream Intelligence Data Driven Production Conference. It’s happening in Houston on July 6-7.
About Jim Crompton
“The future is already here, it is just not widely distributed yet.”
After six years at university and 37 years working in the oil patch for Chevron you would have thought that Jim would have had enough.
But no… Jim continues involvement in the following areas:
1) Improving the Data Foundation for Oil & Gas companies
2) Advancing the capabilities of modeling, and advanced analytics as applied to gaining greater insight into the performance of the digital oil field / integrated operations
3) My other passion is mentoring the next generation workforce or digital engineers, geo-scientists and information technology professionals.
Digital Oilfield Podcast Series:
We put together this series of podcasts in conjunction with Upstream Intelligence to bring our listeners up to speed with the latest trends influencing the digital oilfield.
[1:30] Background – Seismic, the first big data
[3:45] Digital oilfield – today vs 10 years ago
[9:00] Digital oilfield applications in onshore / shale
[13:00] How digital oilfield developments are affecting training and human resource management
[16:00] Transferring knowledge to the next generation of oilfield operators
[19:00] Last thoughts – favorite resources on digital oilfield
Hi everyone and welcome to the Drill Down with Marty Stetzer. This podcast is part of our EKT Interactive Oil and Gas Learning Network and brought to you jointly with Upstream Intelligence in the UK.
Upstream Intelligence is the foremost provider of business intelligence and analysis for the upstream oil and gas community. They are devoted to providing unique industry insight to drive efficiencies, reduce cost and maximize production capabilities.
Today our topic is data driven production with an estimated global value of $31 billion by 2020 the digital oil field is the oil and gas industry’s hotbed of innovation now including big data analytics and the industrial internet of things. I’ll be speaking with Jim Crompton, an industry veteran. We’re really happy to have Jim’s input on this new and important part of the upstream business.
Thank you very much.
Jim, can you give our listeners your background related to upstream digital oil field, IOT analytics or whatever else that you think they might be interested in hearing today?
With 40 years in the industry I could spend the whole podcast talking about what I’ve done. So I’m going to cut it real short. Thirty-seven years with a major international oil company. My background from school is geophysics. So I started out seismic processing acquisition interpretation. That is the oil and gas industry’s first big data kind of discipline if you will; to seismic people who were into high performance computing and then moved on to cluster computing, graphics, GPU chips instead of CPU chips, etc. So in a sense lots of data has always been in my background.
Still with the same employer, I moved from geophysics to the IT department and then I made a niche in the IT department by supporting what was the company’s digital oil field program. This goes back nearly 15 years ago. Again, the digital oil field is hot right now and there’s certainly a lot of very interesting things happening to it. It does have roots that go back quite a while.After working with the program in 10 plus years I retired but I didn’t want to quit completely.
We moved from Houston up here to Colorado. I started a small one person consulting business called Reflections Data Consulting. I still give talks at conferences. I write articles and blogs and try to keep up with all the fast pace … it’s kind of interesting. It was a fast pace of technology and a slower pace of industry adoption and trying to be with one foot in both those worlds in these two fly wheels that are moving at different RPMs is kind of an interesting challenge but that’s where I try to sit.
Jim, I appreciate your background and one of your early comments was interesting to me, the digital oil field has been around the concepts for 15 years. Joe Perino and I were working at Schlumberger in 2004 implementing a “smart field” type of application for one of the other major oil companies. What do you see is the difference today in the way it’s being looked at versus say 10 or 15 years ago. Or maybe give some sort of a historical timeline that might help our listener’s position what’s going on in today’s technologies?
It’s kind of like somebody said with the internet. The internet was an overnight sensation that was 20 years in the making kind of thing.
There’s been a slow background trend as I said I believe starting with geophysics which had lots and lots of data and that continued to grow. It grew in isolation in kind of a silo. The next step I guess if you want to talk about the journey, it moved into drilling and completions.
All of a sudden you had a lot more data coming back from the drill bit, the drilling assembly and you had measurement while drilling (MWD), logging while drilling (LWD). Directional drilling sort of techniques allow almost a video game sort of thing of a remote operator steering a drill bit through a horizontal section of a target reservoir.
Now you’ve got in completions world you’ve got the macroseismic activity that’s trying to pinpoint exactly where all of the fracking is happening. So drilling caught on and that was 10 plus years ago and now you got the remote operation or decision support centers for offshore drilling. This thing happened in waves and they happen in waves that hit different functions in the exploration and production business.
The facility world went from an awful lot of drawings and documents and MSDS sheets in building new facilities to 3D CAD-CAM models. All of a sudden now you have what I guess is the industry buzz word of digital twin where you are building a physical thing but you have a mathematical twin of that built in your CAD CAM session.
I’ve even seen really creative use of taking that CAD CAM model, putting it on a virtual gaming platform and you can actually train or somebody’s avatar can train in their job on a new say deep water facility years before it’s actually commissioned and the person can go out there.
So day one on the job is really not day one of the person doing those functions and having access to that because they trained in the game. So all of the technology from the virtual reality has really kind of come in. What’s different now I think is a lot of this has reached the production operations and maintenance side of oil and gas.
There’s a lot more data available. Particularly offshore, all of the sensors and process control of field instrumentation almost comes now without asking on new facilities. Of course that creates a very different world between the old facilities which still have … not having been upgraded. You still have very minimal information from older fields but a whole lot of information from newer fields.
I was working a little bit with a project that had between 80 and 100,000 sensors on an offshore platform much like a good sized refinery. A couple thousand of those were actually downhole. They were helping to understand how the water flooding on the field was going on in “near real time” not real time — but enough to be able to help the operators almost tune the effectiveness of the enhanced oil recovery process.
So it’s moved in waves. Seismic to probably reservoir, probably production facilities and that now what’s different? I think what has gotten everybody interested in analytics is:
1. There’s now a lot more data to do analytics on in the production phase of it which is where one you need to cut cost;
2. You need to be safe and environmentally compliant; and
3. You need to have as much production as a facility will allow to make money. So with the downturn and the price in the last several years, cutting cost has been … it’s moved from making more barrels to now to making more profitable barrels.
Jim, you mentioned offshore and you’re right I always looked at an offshore platform like a very complex refinery.
As the move toward more digital automation help with the economics of some of the shale plays especially since you’ve got hundreds of wells and you mentioned microseismic earlier in your conversation. You see some applications in the onshore shale plays?
There are – but I think it’s a different paradigm. I agree with you an offshore facility is like a plant. All the work that’s been done in other manufacturing worlds apply. When you’ve got the instrumentation and the process control, you can easily lead to automation and that is like a plant.
Onshore, the paradigm seems to be different. I mean there are opportunities. As we talked about in drilling, the drilling cost for some of these shale plays for horizontal drilling and pad drilling and all these different things, there is tremendous orders of magnitude more information available from the drilling side which is being used. Even the concept is well known as the drilling factory where a lot of these shale wells are now drilled kind of cookie cutter like. There’s a template. You go in. you drill the well. It only takes from a few weeks to a few days depending on depth and then the length of the lateral etc.
It has become a manufacturing-like process. You are manufacturing a well as you go through that. So it has tremendous impact there. Now we’re just starting the idea of how to look at onshore production in that kind of paradigm or some new digital paradigm. It’s hard.
One of my favorite science fiction writers William Gibson once had a quote. He said, “The future is already here. It’s just not widely distributed yet.” In that, I think that for me describes the onshore digital oil field.
You can go to some conventional oil fields that had been around for 20, 30 years and it hasn’t changed much from when it was originally started. So you will see minimal instrumentation, a lot of manual observation and recording. A lot of manual repair and maintenance sort of work. Really the work process hasn’t changed and digitization hasn’t touched it. You can go to another place where there is remote decision support centers for production now. It’s kind of moved from the drillers to the producers and they’re using predictive analytics on critical equipment.
There’s a place where the service companies are getting more involved in working in combination, collaboration with the operators for their particular kind of equipment — whether it’s an artificial lift ESP unit. I know of an oil field service contractor that has a decision support around putting ESPs in the end of wells and their process is trying to limit what I call infant mortality. When you put these pumps in the ground frequently they break very soon after you did it because there was some problem with the installation. So now they’re monitoring the mortality of the equipment in the field and doing predictive maintenance on that critical equipment.
Jim, that’s a really good example of the way these kinds of technologies are changing the relationship between the service companies and the operators. How about will it affect the way the companies train the people, the organization themselves, have you seen anything in that particular area that our listeners would be interested in?
Yeah. I think there’s a couple. Not only the availability of data to help change people’s jobs.
I was fortunate enough right after I retired the first time to co-author a book with Dr. Dutch Holland who was really a champion in the area of organizational change management. We wrote a book called The Future belongs to the Digital Engineer.
That’s this new workforce that’s very comfortable with IT and all the internet of things that are happening in their own personal lives. They want to come and they want to try it out. So why not use those things in their professional life, at work.
At the same time you have demographic shift which is happening – particularly in North America and Western Europe where a lot of the old veterans like me have left the organization and many have left companies. So the old way of thinking and doing really has left the building because these folks aren’t there anymore.
There’s a dramatic shift down to much less experienced people who are running the business and those people have a much higher appetite for using data, using analytical tools, using the digital surveillance including the remote kind of aspects of all this stuff and even using the gaming technology for training if you will.
Again it’s different. You can go to some places haven’t changed much. Go to other places, they are training on simulators. They are using remote decision support centers, first of all to leverage resources so they’re not on a helicopter or a boat or an airplane so much. They can just see what the field sees and make contributions.
A lot of the younger employees are just jumping in and doing that and they will drill the well on a simulator. They will develop a development plan on a simulator. They will actually look at design and test equipment on a simulator before they do it in real life.
So that digital twin idea is more and more becoming … you take it all the way down to how you train a person, how you operate a field, how you do it right now in collaboration with the more physical, mechanical work that’s going on in the field.
That’s a terrific observation Jim. Have you seen any changes in the curriculums at Texas A&M, UT, Penn State to kind of not only have the folks understand the technologies but figuring out ways to take advantage of the experience of the more senior people or anything going on in that area?
Well I’ve been involved for almost 15 years now. University of Southern California has a small but very good Petroleum Engineering department. It’s mostly a graduate program. Nearly 15 years ago, they worked with Chevron to develop a different sort of Master’s Degree in Petroleum Engineering. They called it Center for Interactive Smart Oilfield Technology. There’s a few different courses, electives that they have including data mining and statistics and a lot of these other things. They’ve been granting this different sort of Master’s Degree for PE’s.
There’s even a course there now that I work with Dr. Donald Paul on which is physical and cyber security of the digital oil field. Even looking at the dark side of some of this digital transformation of how oil fields can be hacked and the rest of that. Just recently with this interest in big data and analytics, I’m working with them to put together a course on energy informatics at a graduate level. At the same time I’m working with faculty at the Colorado School of Mines which is my alma matter. They went to try and offer a data analytics minor inside PE with just a few different courses. I see curriculum changing there.
Clearly the idea of using data and using these advanced tools now go all the way into the course work.
You also see a lot of software companies that are very generous in how they work with and donate their software into universities. Obviously hoping that when they come they’re literate on some of these tools but they also probably like and recommend the tools that they’re familiar with.
That was a very interesting observation. We’re seeing the same thing in the Digital Media world where we can take advantage of video, the 3D animations etc. but the students in the Digital Media program need to have an understanding of the business. Our group has been trying to teach in the energy business while they teach us video — very similar to what you’ve done at USC.
Well that’s just the opposite. You’ve got the Petroleum Engineers trying to learn a little bit about IT.
Right. Jim, this has been really terrific. These insights will surely be valuable to both the EKTi and Upstream Intelligence listeners. We could go on for quite a while. You’ve got terrific experience but do you have anything add for our listeners that need more current information on this particular topic?
There are a couple of places. Certainly the conferences like Upstream Intelligence’s upcoming conference on Data Driven Production is one – by attending the sessions, you can hear some of the leading edge stuff. The Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) have an excellent library they call One Petro. You can go in there and find hundreds of papers and articles that are around the digital oil field. It is a really good source for this.
Then I think you have a lot of the software companies who are coming out and obviously wanting to create footprint in the oil and gas business. So there’s information on their websites and their white papers. Of course you need to filter out a little bit of the marketing — but there’s awful lot of case histories that are being shown because everybody wants to know how this stuff works.
Jim, again, thank you so much and thanks to our audience for listening. Jim, if people want to know about what you do in your business, how do they get in touch with you?
Probably the easiest way is through my LinkedIn profile which I maintain and I accept a lot of links there so that you can get in touch with me on that or email address is infopipe52@ gmail.com. I’d be glad to connect to people and have conversations about what they’re interested in.
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Thanks again for listening. We hope you’ve enjoyed it.