How technology is helping Ballard Petroleum save 300 hours on field activities every month keeping downtime to a minimum.
From production efficiency to cost reduction, today’s upstream sector challenges are still driven by low oil prices. Sector leaders recognise the chance to improve operational efficiency and increase production as a basis for future prosperity and they know that, in this tough energy economy, IT must drive business value through innovative technology solutions.
Take the case of Ballard Petroleum, a private exploration and production company headquartered in Billings, Montana, managing 112 wells and with a daily oil production of 4,000 barrels.
A production solution had been in place at Ballard since 2009, but when news broke that the product was going to be de-supported, management decided to review all the company’s production systems and processes.
The business needed to eliminate organisational data siloes, simplify the field data capture and validation process, enable production engineers to identify key trends and put accurate and timely data at top management’s fingertips. Management started searching for an integrated, end-to-end production solution that would create efficiencies, saving monthly field hours and ultimately reducing costs.
Too much reliance on manual processes
Under its legacy systems, Ballard’s data lived in separate repositories and was being entered and re-entered several times. Pumpers had to capture production data in a very old-fashioned way – using pen and paper. Once daily routes were completed, they would then drive to a Ballard field office and use a desktop computer to re-enter the information. Needless to say, this approach was challenging and inefficient and could result in situations needing immediate attention going unnoticed.
Additionally, data input into the production solution didn’t flow well into Ballard’s back-office systems, so information had to be keyed in multiple times by multiple people. Every time somebody touches data, the chances of introducing error to it are increased. Some employees weren’t therefore 100% confident with the data being used and management often didn’t receive information needed to make important business decisions in a timely fashion. Opportunities for creating efficiencies were being missed. It was time for change.
An integrated solution to put an end to siloes
In 2013 Ballard opted for P2 Production which allows data to flow seamlessly from team to team for field data capture and validation, production data management, hydrocarbon allocation and production optimisation needs.
The field data capture tool quickly and efficiently collects and validates data at the well sites. This was a game changer for the pumpers as they could now input the data while in the field and be done at the end of the day. The technology also integrates Ballard’s manually captured data with the data from its SCADA systems, giving everyone a complete picture of the company’s operations. When you have a ton of data, having the tools to make sense of all of it and track what’s happening, is crucial.
From the field, the data flows seamlessly into the production data management system within the solution to be allocated and stored. The data is then channeled directly into Ballard’s accounting system for revenue purposes. All the siloes are brought together into a single place.
The key feature of the new system is that it connects the field to top management who can now see daily and consolidated volumes and be confident their decisions are based on accurate data and therefore more likely to be right.
Measurable, transparent results
The new solution brought Ballard many benefits. Pumpers now spend more time on resolving rather than hunting for problems. In fact, 300 hours are saved every month on field activities leaving more time to focus on meeting production targets.
Downtime reduction is another important benefit. Pumpers can now analyse current and historical production numbers side by side and, if something is amiss, they’re able to resolve the issue quickly and return the asset to peak performance.
Last but not least, the data is now overall more accurate and of higher quality thanks to the pumpers catching most of their own errors.
Clara Fuge is vice president of product management at P2 Energy Solutions.
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