Journal of Petroleum Technology July 2012 : Page 40
APPS AND THE DIGITAL OIL FIELD Robin Beckwith, Senior Staff Writer NOV’s eHawk Remote BOP Monitor for mobile devices and web browsers. Photo by National Oilwell Varco. 40 JPT • JULY 2012
Apps And The Digital Oil Field
Robin Beckwith, Senior Staff Writer
The oil and gas industry tends to be resistant to marketing fads. If a software phenomenon such as the app cannot help get oil and gas out of the Earth safer, faster, and more economically, then the industry will not use it. This may be why, of the hundreds of thousands of apps now publicly available, only a few dozen are devoted to the industry.<br /> <br /> Apps Developed for the Oil and Gas Industry <br /> <br /> None of the online app stores has a separate category for the petroleum industry. Oil and gas apps are primarily housed under app stores' business, education, productivity, or reference headings. While an app must meet certain software standards to be included in an app store, the actual content receives no vetting. So, beyond the name and reputation of the company or person providing the app, no assurance is provided on the accuracy of the app's information, mathematical formulas, or simulation parameters.<br /> <br /> Oil and gas industry apps comprise the following five categories:<br /> <br /> Those devoted to marketing materials—These marketing collateral materials take the place of printed catalogs, annual reports, brochures, and data sheets. While companies have made such materials available on their websites ever since the Web began rising in prominence in the early 1990s, the primary advantage of accessing them via a smartphone or tablet lies in the greater portability of the devices themselves, as well as the ability for updated material to be added at any time.<br /> <br /> For example, Aker Solutions recently implemented a smartphone app for its wireline tractor catalog. On a tablet, this is downloaded as a portable document format (PDF) file that is accessible through a book library app.<br /> <br /> In another example, Tenaris has created its own TenarisLibrary, featuring a complete and integrated package of its available marketing literature and videos. These appear in a variety of languages, and access can be tailored to individual interests. Calling it a "dynamic library," Tenaris writes, "Each user is invited to create their own customized library to navigate the material once disconnected from the Internet."<br /> <br /> Those that supply computations—Designing a drilling program and constructing, drilling, and completing a well demand input of a huge number of variables that can be manipulated using mathematical formulas and computations. Each variable rests upon a solid foundation of physical reality, including measured depth, pipe inner and outer diameter, downhole pressure and temperature, azimuth, mud weight, rate of penetration, and weight on bit. Some computationally based apps—including Halliburton's eRedBook and eChartBook and Schlumberger's Smith Bits Quick Calc Hydraulics—are of use in the field. Others—such as Wellcontrol.com.br's Well Control, Leak-Off Test, and Drilling simulators—are useful as educational tools.<br /> <br /> The eRedBook app includes most of the table information found in the printed version of Halliburton's RedBook Cementing Tables. The tables go back to 1929, when Halliburton hired W.D. "Bill" Owsley to perform tests on the Portland cement used in oil well cementing operations. Owsley began compiling the calculations for the tables, which have been relied upon over the decades by scientists and engineers. Although the printed version, sized to fit in a coveralls pocket, is more explicit and easier to navigate and contains drawings and supplementary information, the app makes calculations instantly. Perhaps a new coveralls pocket will be created to house a tablet.<br /> <br /> With its interactive functions, the eChartBook relies on Internet access to calculate Halliburton's environmental correction algorithms. With the number and complexity of logging-while-drilling and wireline sensors generating data, it is difficult and cumbersome for a paper-based chart system to accurately match field conditions without relying on estimation or interpolation between charts. Using the app, charts can be custom-built to reflect actual well conditions. Specific charts can be saved as digital images for printing or inclusion in reports. In addition, "what if" style calculations can be made to quickly assess the impact of changes in the logging environment.<br /> <br /> With the Quick Calc Hydraulics app, one can calculate a snapshot of the hydraulic horsepower, jet velocity, and impact forces created at a jet nozzle orifice, installed in a drill bit during earth-boring operations. The user provides numbers for fluid density, flow rates, total flow area (the summation of nozzle areas that fluid can pass through), and bit diameter, and the app then calculates the respective hydraulic parameters for conventional drilling fluids. Air, mist, and foam fluids are not supported yet. The calculated results can be forwarded to anyone in the user's contact list.<br /> <br /> An interesting use of the ability to make quick, accurate calculations using mobile electronic devices is demonstrated in the various apps created by a father-and-son team based in Brazil. Carlos Moura, senior petroleum engineer and long-time International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC) WellCap Program instructor for Petrobras, and his son Marlon, a software programmer, have developed 10 apps suitable for educational or computational purposes. They are all available through Apple's App Store.<br /> <br /> For a minimal cost, a student can get some idea of what actual well conditions are like. These include three drilling-related apps, three well control apps, one kick tolerance and one directional drilling app, and two leak-off test apps. However, all the apps rely on the user to input data, are not self-updating, and do not incorporate a true game-like simulation experience. Daan Veeningen, NOV IntelliServ director of marketing, who purchased a couple of the apps, said they are "a useful tool for training and for doing 'what if' scenarios."<br /> <br /> Those that supply reference material—Examples of these include the Baker Hughes Rig Count (BHRC), the Schlumberger Oilfield Glossary, Pipeline Regulations, and the History of Petroleum.<br /> <br /> The BHRC is unavailable without Internet access because it relies on weekly updates. With Internet access, it provides rig counts for the US, Canada, and the rest of the world (listed as one number under the heading "International"). Baker Hughes began issuing US and Canadian rotary rig counts in 1944 and, in 1975, added a monthly international rig count. Because the counts have been compiled consistently for several decades, the BHRC is useful in historical analysis of the industry. A rig-by-rig display is superimposed on a map for the United States, but not for anywhere else in the world.The Earth can be viewed as a map, with countries, states, provinces, cities, rivers, parks, and roads indicated; as a satellite image, with land and ocean topography indicated; or as a hybrid map and satellite image. One can zoom out to a view of the whole world or zoom in to individual streets or buildings.<br /> <br /> The Oilfield Glossary can be searched by specific term, or a word (such as "well") or letter (such as "a") can be preceded or followed by a wildcard (an asterisk), and the glossary can be flipped through as one would a paper dictionary.<br /> <br /> Most reference material is downloaded to and stored on the mobile device. However, Internet access is required for updates.<br /> <br /> Those that take the place of a printed magazine or newsletter—SPE has two such apps: for the Journal of Petroleum Technology and for The Way Ahead. Others include The Oil & Gas Journal and Oil & Gas Gazette. Once an issue is downloaded, it is available without the need to access the Internet. However, without connection to the Internet, any hyperlinks within articles to sites on the Internet are not available. JPT's and TWA's apps connect with issues dating back to January 2009. These can be either downloaded and viewed without the Internet or accessed with an online connection. For JPT issues dating back to August 1997 and for TWA issues dating back to January 2005, users must go online to access them.<br /> <br /> Those that take the place of a website—These are often related to specific events, such as the Offshore Technology Conference or SPE's Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, and are updated regularly before and during the events.<br /> <br /> The Digital Oil Field: Mobility, Accessibility, Collaboration, ‘Big Data’—and Security<br /> <br /> Three critical digital operation issues face the oil and gas industry: .<br /> <br /> • How to access and manipulate huge amounts of data ("big data" such as seismic and historical geophysical data)<br /> <br /> • How to meet the need for data immediacy (such as measurement-while-drilling data and pressure and temperature sensing data)<br /> <br /> • How to reach optimum decisions at every stage of reservoir development, from planning to drilling to completion to production, with input from a wide range of experts without regard to geographical location<br /> <br /> These concerns, rather than focusing on the phenomenon of the app with its limited size and power, have instead led to a focus on hardware and the creative use of any and all types of electronic devices separately or in concert as means of driving increased safety, improved accuracy, increased efficiency, and reduced cost. The use of various hand-held electronic devices, including personal digital assistants (PDAs), smartphones, and tablets—as well as the use of laptops, desktops, and arrays of desktops—is on the rise. In addition, the use of sophisticated sensors along with radio frequency or direct connection via wired drillpipe telemetry technology allows real-time broadband transmission of critical data. The industry is thus optimizing the different types of hardware available through software tailored to its needs.<br /> <br /> The use of a vast array of sensing, transmission, and computing devices is enabling increased mobility, with the associated ability for workers to work remotely from a wellsite—and from each other. Huge amounts of sensor-generated data are available close to real time from anywhere in the world. People from a wide range of backgrounds can access this data, promoting cross-discipline, cross-hierarchical, cross-company collaboration.<br /> <br /> Data also is available quickly across a wide range of assets-from storage tanks to deep in a producing reservoir, from gas transmission pipelines to measurement-while-drilling tools.<br /> <br /> Donald Paul, executive director of the University of Southern California (USC) Energy Institute and holder of the William M. Keck Chair in Energy Resources at USC (and former chief technology officer of Chevron) said, "The digital oil field as we know it today extends far beyond enterprise applications. In particular, a discussion of real-time operations, control systems, and SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) issues is needed." He pointed out that most of the technical apps today have to do with well design and construction. "These are very important to be sure, but only one element of the digital oil field," he said.<br /> <br /> "On the security side, while app availability and ease of use are increasing rapidly, the danger for cyber-security incidents on PDAs is also growing," said Mehrzad Mahdavi, president and chief executive officer of Dexa Systems and chair of SPE's Digital Energy Technical Section. "Apple's App Store has fewer reported security incidents, like malware downloads, than Android stores. Also, reaction time by Apple to malware reports is fairly rapid."<br /> <br /> "However," he continued, "the use of smartphones and PDAs that have been modified, or ' jailbroken,' greatly increases security risk, such as corporate data loss, since all vendor security restrictions are bypassed." Mahdavi advises that "corporate IT security policies must be adhered to and such phones should not be used on the corporate network, if a policy of 'bring your own devices' is allowed."<br /> <br /> WHAT IS AN APP?<br /> <br /> Basically, "app" is short for "application." Apple is the largest facilitator of app sales, which are achieved through its App Store. All App Store apps must meet Apple software development kit standards, and Apple gets a certain percentage of the sales of all apps marketed through the App Store. There has been some discussion about calling shortened applications "widgets," but "app" seems to have prevailed.<br /> <br /> All apps, except those that come with the device, are downloaded from the Internet onto various types of mobile devices, such as personal digital assistants (PDAs), smartphones, and tablets.<br /> <br /> There are four types of apps. The key differentiator between them is their relative reliance on Internet access.<br /> <br /> Those that, once downloaded, can function completely on the mobile device without access to the Internet<br /> <br /> This type of app has limited power and scope and is installed in its entirety from an app store onto a mobile device. Such apps can be "short forms" of programs such as Office or Photoshop—often representing only one aspect of such a program, much as one song can be downloaded rather than an entire album. Such miniprograms may require mobile device features such as a built-in camera. Further examples of such apps are books or games that require a small amount of storage space.<br /> <br /> Those that rely on intermittent Internet access for periodic downloading<br /> <br /> This type of app links to an Internet site and cannot function without accessing data from the site from time to time. Such apps depend on information that is periodically updated. These would include newspapers, magazines, or company marketing brochures.<br /> <br /> Those that cannot perform any function without access to the Internet<br /> <br /> This type of app comprises two subtypes, both of which upon launching take users directly to an Internet location: <br /> <br /> • The first subtype users must sign up for and requires access through a username and password. Such apps are personalized gateways—to locations such as Skype, AOL Instant Messenger, or Netflix—rather than actual applications.<br /> <br /> • The second subtype does not require access through a username and password. It does behave like an application, one that relies on constant updating, such as a stock index, rig count, or interactive map.<br /> ____________________________________________<br /> <br /> The following are just a few examples of the wide variety of ways the oil and gas industry is being transformed into the digital oil field—integrating the full power of the vast array of computing devices, from the most mobile to the most static, and the full power of software applications, including apps, as well as the Internet.<br /> <br /> CRITICAL DATA ANYWHERE, ANYTIME<br /> <br /> Dynamic Drilling Systems is focused on gathering drilling information through data streams from sensors at the rigsite and making it available to clients via interactive real-time Web applications.The company integrates data from different vendors and displays it live in Web browsers and PDAs without requiring clients to install software.<br /> <br /> According to Bob Sage, Dynamic Drilling's chief executive officer, a key feature of his company's ApolloDART tool is that "users access the application via a URL where they input their username and password." The system, whose cost is included in the company's daily rental service price, can be used on any mobile device or from any computer with Internet access.<br /> <br /> Through a concept called a "smart alarm," users at the drillsite receive an audible alarm on their computer or computers and users offsite receive a text message or email notification on their mobile devices that something is out of the ordinary on a well. For example, sensing parameters might indicate a possible kick or stuck pipe. Before a well is drilled, users set the system to generate an alarm if certain variables exceed the limits they determine. Should an alarm occur, once users log in, they can scroll through the last several hours of drilling or geological data to determine how the present circumstances arose.<br /> <br /> "Users can set up their screen to have a view of the data they want, to give them the information they need to respond to what is happening," said Sage.<br /> <br /> MONITORING ENTIRE RIG OPERATIONS<br /> <br /> National Oilwell Varco (NOV) has developed a number of applications that allow remote rig operation monitoring. Drilling conditions are measured via bottomhole assembly, drillstring, and surface operations sensors. This capability makes hundreds of data points available to applications, enabling the optimization and improved up-time of the drilling process.<br /> <br /> According to Trey Mebane, director of business development with NOV's Instrumentation, Monitoring, and Optimization group, the company has been addressing the integration of "the process of drilling with the business of drilling." Its IntelliServ networked drillstring integrates downhole sensors with surface computing devices-desktops, laptops, PDAs, smartphones, and tablets-through a coaxial wired system that allows broadband telemetry. "The broadband wired telemetry permits data transmissions which are 20,000 times faster than traditional measurement-while-drilling mud pulse telemetry," said Daan Veeningen, NOV IntelliServ director of marketing.<br /> <br /> NOV has developed its own store front for offering NOV and third-party drilling applications, said Tony Pink, NOV automation vice president for automation applications. These will be based on the open architecture of its broadband telemetry system. This means that, subject to a quality review, any company can develop an app for a particular business purpose. Examples would be closed-loop control applications that work across the drilling system, as well as new drilling analytics applications.<br /> <br /> The following are some of the apps NOV has developed to harness the power of the close to real-time downhole sensing data combined with surface instrumentation and information management systems:<br /> <br /> • WellData.net, a remote access and business integration system that allows up-to-the-minute integration of website information into drilling reports; these are also accessible on a smartphone via the WellData/MobileRT (Real Time) app.<br /> <br /> • RigSense, an instrumentation package designed for rigs that require hazardous area monitoring of the drilling process.<br /> <br /> • TrueDrill, an advanced autodriller that allows the drawworks to be directly controlled by downhole weight on bit.<br /> <br /> • DrillShark, a drilling optimization application which uses advanced drilling algorithms to monitor for shifts in drilling energy and automatically adjusts operating parameters for the rig's autodriller and top drive system.<br /> <br /> • Enhanced Measurement System (EMS) Visualizer, an app that produces 3D visualization of the data coming up the IntelliServ system from the EMS tool; some of the parameters visualized are revolutions per minute, axial, and lateral vibration.<br /> <br /> • DrillWell, which consolidates rig reporting data into a central database so users can query against and prearrange data to highlight trends, identify trouble spots, and improve operations.<br /> <br /> • Ehawk, an equipment monitoring service featuring a Web-based application that allows for the remote monitoring of drilling equipment operations.<br /> <br /> IT'S ABOUT THE HARDWARE: THE POWER OF THE LAPTOP<br /> <br /> Halliburton has trained and certified more than 800 technical experts worldwide on its iCem interactive cementing service. Central to the iCem service is its power, flexibility, and portability, which are achieved via laptop computers.<br /> <br /> According to Mark Savery, technical applications manager-digital integration for Halliburton Cementing, the power and portability of the iCem program allows technical professionals "to sit collaboratively with customers and virtually run the job based on the customer's wellbore designs, answer questions, change variables, and iteratively learn lessons before the work is really done." The aim is to produce a cement job that "stays competent for the life of the well, which can be more than 50 years," said Savery.<br /> <br /> The iCem service program took the best elements of several programs, integrating and improving them, whereby many inputs can be entered in one place and all calculations and simulations can take place on one platform. The original OptiCem software was developed in the early 1990s and used and updated until the release of the iCem service in 2011. By 2009, Halliburton released a 3D cementing simulator. In addition, the company took the best of the existing software, pooled and advanced it, and retired the remaining software. The consolidated program was tested and validated with the help of an oil and gas laboratory at the University of Adelaide, Australia.<br /> <br /> During a 2-hour meeting numerous simulations can be run on the laptop to assess how to achieve the goal of successful wellbore integrity. These can be run at any stage—for primary cementing, reverse cementing, balanced plugs, or post-cementing analysis, to name a few. Different results can be compared simultaneously to achieve the most robust result.<br /> <br /> Far beyond the capabilities inherent in a hand-held mobile device, the power and size of the laptop allows a variety of simulation to be run, with over 30 analytical results, and here are a few examples:<br /> <br /> • 2D hydraulics, or equivalent circulating density hydraulic simulation<br /> <br /> • 3D displacement, or spacer and cement placement simulation<br /> <br /> • Stress analysis, or cement sheath stress analysis—a finite element analysis model to predict the risk of cement failure during various stress-inducing operations to generate thermal and mechanical properties required to retain zonal isolation<br /> <br /> • Surge and swab, or tracking the surge pressure against the fracture gradient and swab pressure against pore pressure according to casing shore measured depth <br /> <br /> The power of the laptop also allows the use of the following three types of calculators:<br /> <br /> • Rheological hierarchy, whereby fluid rheologies are optimized by assessing the likelihood of fluid bypass based on pressure drop vs. flow rate for each successive fluid .<br /> <br /> • Standoff, whereby centralization is optimized using plots detailing each centralizer's standoff and the midpoint .<br /> <br /> • Torque and drag, which uses rotational torque, slackoff weight, static weight, and pickup weight as a function of casing shoe measured depth<br /> <br /> THE LIMITATIONS OF MOBILE DEVICES AND APPS<br /> <br /> Tablets use a form of storage called flash memory. While this type of storage is more rugged than hard-disk storage, it is also more expensive. Flash-based storage also uses a lot less battery power than hard-disk storage. For now, tablets have a maximum of 64 GB of internal flash memory.<br /> <br /> Most mobile devices have no USB ports whereby one can plug in other devices or augment storage. For increased storage, one option is to purchase cloud-based storage. While this provides convenience (accessibility from anywhere) and security, it ties the user to the Internet and to a fee-based provider. When Internet access is unavailable or should the provider go out of business, access to the files in the cloud would no longer be possible.<br /> <br /> This limitation is set to change. The USB Standards Organization announced recently that USB 3.0 SS ports would be making their way to smartphones and tablet devices this year, and most on the market by the end of 2012 would support the 3.0 standard. To keep space to a minimum, most devices will likely have a MicroUSB 3.0 port. This will give smartphones and tablets with USB 3.0 support up to 800 Mbps speeds for transferring files. Desktop and laptop computers with USB 3.0 ports can hit data transfers up to 5 Gbps. A side benefit to the USB 3.0 standard will be faster charging of the device.<br /> <br /> PDAs, smartphones, and tablets also have the obvious limitation of a relatively small screen size. This is an issue that cannot be circumvented.<br /> <br /> Apps are far less powerful than programs one can download onto a desktop or laptop computer. A PDA, smartphone, or tablet cannot, for example, take advantage of Adobe's recently introduced Creative Cloud arrangement, whereby users purchase a 1-year or month-to-month subscription that gives them access to the entire Adobe Creative Suite 6 (CS6) tools. One can download and use products such as Photoshop and Illustrator, Adobe Muse, and other online services—but only onto a desktop or laptop computer. According to the Adobe site, members can "access their content from everywhere and work anywhere with sync and store features integrated with the CS6 software." By joining and while remaining a member, one can get free access to future updates such as new apps, features, and services as soon as they are available. Users are dependent on access to the Internet for the programs, bug fixes, and updates and must remain members (for a monthly fee) in order to keep that access.
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