InnovOil looks at some of the new generation of integrated asset modelling solutions
For decades, the oil and gas industry has utilised integrated asset modelling to predict the behaviour of an oil or gas field and plan facilities accordingly.
This process creates a model of a field’s reservoir, production facilities, pipelines and other related infrastructure. This allows an engineer to make theoretical alterations to investigate the effect they would have upon the whole in a holistic manner.
This helps create an accurate forecast, which is vital for a company in order to plan a field. Knowing the volumes and times of oil and gas production in advance can help not only get a field up and running in a timely manner, but helps a company form a larger strategy.
With the industry under pressure to ensure some projects come online while volatile oil prices are still favourable, speed has become a crucial factor in integrated asset modelling.
In order to learn more about the developments in the field, InnovOil spoke to Peter Cunningham, the founder of software consultancy Serafim.
“A fast integrated asset model algorithm provides the basis for a general purpose forecasting system,” he explained.
While speed is important in creating an accurate model of a field, there has traditionally been a trade-off between the accuracy and detail of a model and the speed at which it could deliver an adequate simulation.
Older integrated asset modelling chose to focus on accuracy. “From the 1990s onwards, there has been increasingly detailed modelling,” Cunningham explained. This means that modelling software has suffered from slow processing times, taking hours or even days to work.
Typically, the facilities and infrastructure on the surface were modelled separately from the reservoir. This made it difficult to capture the dynamic relationship between the two, demanding more computer processing power and increasing the time required to run the simulation.
The end result was a chain of different simulations, with the results from each moving further downstream, from reservoir to pipelines to facilities. This fed into the inefficiencies in the classic model.
With speed becoming more important for decision-making in the oil and gas industry, this was hardly an adequate solution.
“When you’ve got large facilities and complex networks, you can get an approximate answer quickly, rather than having a model,” Cunningham said. “If you have a model that takes an integrated asset model that takes 24 hours to run, that’s not very much good if someone asks you a question and expects an answer that morning.”
“Efficiency depends not only on the oil and gas you get out but also the time you get it out – getting gas out in 20 years’ time compared to getting it now,” he added.
New software, such as Serafim’s FUTURE production forecasting system, is faster by many orders of magnitude. The new generation of integrated asset modelling solutions was developed around 2010 onwards and can help a user produce rapid analysis and predictions surrounding a field.
Currently, modern integrated asset management systems are 1,000 times faster than previous versions. “One example I’ve worked on, this is a very small model,” Cunningham said, “was reduced from 15 minutes to one second.
“There’s a model of another asset that took four days to run in a traditional integrated asset model – now a model of the bigger parts of it takes about five minutes.”
Newer integrated asset modelling tools mean that reservoir engineers can have their cake and eat it too when it comes to speed and accuracy. “They will make it possible to do away with the need to have detailed but slow models of the oil production system on the one hand and a faster simpler model on the other hand,” Cunningham said.
“With the fast integrated asset model calculation, you can have a single general purpose software solution that will serve as a general purpose production forecast.”
All of this translates into timed saved, and therefore costs saved. “One of our customers had a rule of thumb that an efficient general purpose forecasting system would save two man weeks per year, for the reservoir engineers and production engineers.”
FUTURE is a single piece of software that replaces the multiple different simulators normally required as part of integrated asset modelling.
“We found that if we extended that approach to incorporate pressure calculations we ended up with a complete model that was also fast,” Cunningham explained. “What had happened with previous integrated asset models was that they had started with pressure calculations then added rate calculations or rate constraints, while we started the other way, with rate constraints and we added pressure. That path proved to give a much faster solution.”
Seeing the FUTURE
To get a better idea of how FUTURE works in a practical environment, InnovOil spoke with Serafim customer and Brunei Shell Petroleum (BPS) senior reservoir engineer Mustapha Bouhdaid.
“We were using standalone models, and we would run those models and combine them and then show those results to our corporate forecasting department and then they would take those forecasts and run them in their own forecasting tool,” he said.
“There were many different tools going to the corporate forecasting team and they would then also run those forecasts through with their own tools to include additional information as required.
“It was quite a time-consuming activity to make sure all the forecasts are all correct at all different levels. We have tools in place, but it was not feasible to build a full forecasting model purely because of the level of calculations required.
“For BSP’s East field, we have to include 74 wells in one model and that already takes a day or so to run. For a very effective integrated forecasting you want to have speed. It’s very cumbersome to run a forecast and come back the next day and see that its forecasting is wrong and the only way to find a solution is to really go back and run it again.”
BSP started using FUTURE on a trial basis in 2016 after it had utilised by a joint venture between Shell and Gazprom Neft, Salym Petroleum Development.
FUTURE provides a single result that can be viewed by multiple different people, increasing the transparency of its forecasts. “We can have many eyes looking at the model and there’s more discussion about the model. It breaks down the walls between different departments,” Bouhdaid noted.
“The most important thing is the calculation speed. We have all of these wells in the model, for example, we typically would run 2,000 wells in the model, and we would run it first for half years, then it would run annual forecasts up to 2070 and it would take 20-25 minutes to run.”
“It’s generally 1,000 times faster,” Bouhdaid added. He also noted that the results were accurate, coming “within a couple of percentage points difference” of forecasting methods.
All of this translates into a more efficient use of a company’s resources. As Cunningham noted: “It’s not only about money being saved, it’s time being spent more productively on thinking about how best to operate the oil and gas field rather than spending time on the mechanics of running and updating separate forecasts.”