The promise of fully automated and intelligent oil and gas fields is very tempting. Some envision turning reservoir management into an ultimate video game with engineers, scientists and managers sitting at their workstations in the office and guiding the hydrocarbon from the reservoir into the wellbore leaving almost nothing left behind. Smart fields that are the natural result of the growth from smart completions and smart wells, hold much promise that is yet to be realized. New hardware is manufactured and being improved routinely that can be placed downhole permanently and using fiber optics and wireless technology can send high frequency data streams (pressure, temperature, flow rate, acoustic signals, …) into the office. This high frequency data, that is the real manifestation of “Big Data” in our industry, is dumped into data warehouses at a rate of terabytes per day.
What are the challenges that our industry face in turning this data into information and then knowledge that can be utilized to make decisions and consequently turn the decisions into action? This needs to be accomplished through a robust feedback system in almost real-time. Where are the bottlenecks? Where can we look for solutions? How can they be implemented? Are we the only industry that has faced or is facing such challenges? To overcome these challenges we have to use the technology that others such as aerospace industry and the financial market have used in order to solve similar problems, successfully.
Shahab D. Mohaghegh is the president and CEO of Intelligent Solutions, Inc. (ISI) and Professor of Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering at West Virginia University. A pioneer in the application of Artificial Intelligence and Data Mining in the Exploration and Production industry, he holds B.S., MS, and PhD degrees in petroleum and natural gas engineering.
He has authored more than 150 technical papers and carried out more than 50 projects many of them with major international companies. He is a SPE Distinguished Lecturer and has been featured in the Distinguished Author Series of SPE’s Journal of Petroleum Technology (JPT) four times. He has been honored by the U.S. Secretary of Energy for his technical contribution in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon (Macondo) incident in the Gulf of Mexico and is a member of U.S. Secretary of Energy’s Technical Advisory Committee on Unconventional Resources.