As companies’ ability to extract and utilize data from oil fields mature, digitalization is expected to make substantial impacts on how they are operated. Through harnessing the possibilities of cloud solutions, new collaborative platforms, and interfaces to access data across the discipline-silos, many companies will be able to drastically increase their performance.
Olav Barkved, a subsurface specialist at Petoro, explains that “data is the driver of digitalization and new ways of collaboration. We are already using collaboration and visualization tools we could only dream of just a couple of years ago.”
These opportunities need to be capitalized on, and not least when groups of companies are engaged in major industrial projects such as Johan Sverdrup on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS), one of the world’s most "instrumented oil fields.” A vast number of sensors are installed on the topside, at the seabed, and in the wells, allowing for proactive reservoir and plant management. The massive amounts of data and insight generated will support optimization, as well as providing the license partnership with a robust knowledge base for planning and making strategic decisions.
“The Johan Sverdrup license has a reputation for being forward-leaning when it comes to partner collaboration and digital solutions. There were untapped benefits related to data sharing, however, limited by cultural and practical barriers. As operator we saw the need for a more structured approach to data sharing discussions,” says Therese Bjarke, technical committee chair from Equinor.
As the industry increasingly relies on cloud-based solutions, it is of great importance to align on data architecture principles and best practices for access, exchange and usage of data across companies. O&G Data link, an oil & gas industry initiative for data sharing, has a key role in this area.
The O&G Data link initiative set up a project together with the Johan Sverdrup license to support the ongoing data sharing discussions in the partnership. The hypothesis was that improved data sharing among the partners leads to better collaboration and more value to be realized. To establish common ground, the project adopted a partner-role perspective that served as an overarching guide for constructive discussions and development of prototypes.
Finding a joint approach to a challenging topic
Data sharing discussions are challenging and in no way unique to the oil and gas industry. These discussions include legal aspects, cultural resistance, data ownership issues, data security, technical issues, and are at times biased by both personal experiences and perceptions. “To overcome some of the barriers, first, we had to create a common understanding of what good data sharing could accomplish,” says Olav Barkved.
The key to tapping the benefits of data sharing and digitalization is a disciplined focus on value – First agree on what value we want to realize, then explore what data is needed and how it can be used.
A core team of representatives from each of the license partner companies was established to deliver a value and user-driven approach including methodology, process support, and recording tools to facilitate structured data sharing discussions. These were tested on selected use-cases to drive both the culture change and rapid proof of value.
The project has so far delivered a structured and collaborative methodology based on design-thinking and lean methodology, with prototyped use-cases relevant for the Johan Sverdrup license. One example of these is visualization of daily production and injection data flow, wherein the operator and license partners plan to share the same insight and visualization tools and give access to the underlying data through an open-source API register.
The intention of this use case is to improve efficiency in collaboration through an updated and shared data-view. It is also expected to facilitate valuable and timely feedback from partners to support planning and business decisions. The prototype is currently being tested by domain experts and users, and will later be released to the wider group of licence committee members to support daily operations.
As a large greenfield operation and a digital flagship for the Norwegian oil & gas industry, Johan Sverdrup has an advantage over older licenses that may have high volumes of historical data structured in various ways. The size and value of the field justifies using resources for developing and hosting modern data collaboration solutions. There are several pilots being pursued in addition to visualization of production data flow. Each of these relate to different IT systems and processes for data access. To establish, develop and maintain these new flows of data will require dedicated personnel within both the operating and partner companies.
The value-driven methodology to data sharing, and the learnings and technical solutions from the pilots should fuel the development of standardized industry solutions for digital and effective work processes across the NCS. Looking ahead, and to avoid cost and time intensive solution development on an asset by asset basis, the industry could consider establishing or endorsing a third party to manage access control and the sharing-within-license solutions across the various licenses.
In the meanwhile, the Johan Sverdrup license and the O&G Data link initiative will continue to contribute to the work by sharing lessons learned and best practices from the pilots and support the maturation of standardized solutions for licenses on the NCS. The main take-away, however, is the broad applicability of finding opportunity for shared value creation in the data sharing context.
“Data sharing discussions are complex and industry players have different views and objectives,” says James van Merkensteijn, head of the project management office in the O&G Data link initiative. “Principle questions of data openness, both within licenses and across licenses, need to be sorted in other arenas. The O&G Data link initiative needs to make a constructive contribution to the debate, but the main focus is finding opportunities for shared value creation and specific use cases that enable effective data sharing.”