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September 04, 2014
Upstream oil and gas: Can big data help us get the big picture?
By: Dean Forrester

Energy companies are investing more in integrated upstream operation for a single data view and achieve higher simplicity and efficiency and reduced risk. The past few years of economic downturn and oil price volatility have intensified demands for greater efficiency and more effective utilization of capital—demands that will continue to impact operating models and project delivery even in the upturn.

For upstream oil and gas operators, production optimization and operation support and maintenance remain the key areas to drive increasing efficiencies. Many upstream operations manage the gap between their forecast and actual production, using a deferment management process—typically an asset-based activity with a day-to-day perspective. However, simple deferment events such as compressor failures or other local asset issues impact well production by a few barrels of oil per day. There are other problems too. Lack of process and tools doesn’t allow consistent capture of deferment issues. Also, deferment is currently not linked to the maintenance system nor used to drive decision making and prioritize asset activities.

Recent research by Accenture demonstrates that when managed as a portfolio of opportunities to prioritize preventive and remedial actions, aggregated across assets and using longer time periods, deferment events can lead to visibility of production volumes across the network of wells and allow realization of thousands of barrels in lost production. We believe that a 3-5 percent production lift can be achieved by putting in place basic surveillance—departing from a ‘silo-ed’ view to look at the big picture by applying analytics at the enterprise level to identify undiscovered data and trends. The good news is that upstream operators now have new tools that use big data to help them accurately identify issues, improve maintenance management and manage deferment as a portfolio.

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