As E&P companies prioritise efficiency and field redevelopment, gathering and processing historic data into usable forms is more important than ever. OGUK member Larsen & Toubro Infotech explains to Wireline how it is aiding digital transformation.
At one time, greenfield exploration was largely seen as the best route to creating value for an oil and gas business; new fields meant greater reserves replacement and new production. Now however, many E&P companies are realising that they may already be sitting on a wealth of opportunity and value – in the form of data.
Historic data gathered from wells and assets can often provide vital information when appraising or re-developing prospects. The problem arises in locating this data in a form that is accessible and functional. When this well or seismic information does exist, it is frequently in the form of paper-based reports in physical archives. Identifying exactly what is already contained within, and what is needed for a successful project, is a considerable task.
Grappling with such subsurface data is therefore one of the frontlines of the oil and gas industry’s efforts to embrace digitalisation. One company leading the way is Larsen & Toubro Infotech (LTI), the digital solutions division of the Indian engineering group. In its 20-plus years of operation, LTI has developed suite of tools across its oil and gas practice to drive automation, connectivity and analytics, including a pioneering approach to data digitisation projects.
“Our vision is to take all the subsurface data that is available, connect it all together using metadata attributes… and transform it into a format that can be consumed by the technologists of today.”
“We are recognised as a challenger to the traditional IT firms and we’ve been pioneering at the intersection of digital and physical,” LTI’s executive vice president for oil and gas, Suraj Rangashayi, told Wireline. “We see ourselves as having a lot of differentiation in that we have a lot of engineering talent and IT talent coming together to create the right blend of capabilities to transform the industry.”
In the case of subsurface data, these capabilities take the form of an end-to-end digitisation service, allowing physical documents to be digitised and information extracted. The resulting data is processed and presented in an open-source digital format, ready to use in future projects or inserted into existing corporate data repositories. “Effectively our vision is to take all the subsurface data that is available, connect it all together using metadata attributes [for example, assigning GIS mapping tags or unique well IDs]… and transform it into a format that can be consumed by the technologists of today,” Suraj explained.
The company’s proprietary Mosaic platform leverages AI and machine-learning techniques to distinguish between graphs, data tables and textual information, and extract information accordingly, whether by optical character recognition (OCR) or image processing. (The latter enables Mosaic to convert physical seismic waveforms into digits and attaches relevant metadata from the surrounding report, creating a file which standard industry seismic software can consume). Human technicians are kept in the loop during the process to ensure quality control and verification. “This enables us to create a workbench and run a workflow with the documents pushed in at one side and the processed outputs at the other side,” Suraj continued. “That is basically the holy grail; if you are able to do all of this and create this dataset in the right format, it’s now available for actual value extraction.”
Where it may have taken an internal project team months to reappraise or reassess reservoir data, LTI suggests the data compiling process can now be condensed down to weeks, offering value in the form of an expedited project as well as the long-term benefits of increased access to that data.
Access to such archives has clear implications for operators on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) – the launch of the National Data Repository (NDR) by the Oil and Gas Authority being one route towards making such data more accessible to all parties in support of maximising economic recovery. But while larger global operators may have their own extensive internal archives, many smaller E&P companies have some way to go. “For a lot of the independent operators today, a lot of them in the North Sea, the degree of adoption of these digital technologies is minimal,” he noted. “And when I see the value potential in leveraging these technologies, it’s huge.”
Providing the right personnel access to the right data can make a profound difference in other areas too. One of LTI’s recent innovations is a cloud-hosted emergency response management suite which uses the standardised forms submitted to regulators to populate a database and can issue automated reports (by email or portal) to ensure reporting compliance. For responsible personnel, this provides clear visibility that emergency response plans are up to date and are being maintained – and any outstanding issues will be flagged with senior personnel automatically.
If an incident does occur, the system allows all relevant staff and government agencies to collaborate and communicate in real-time, over live documents, to ensure the response plan is enacted accordingly. “It’s also a great remote training tool,” added Suraj, in that it allows these (often geographically disparate) teams to undergo virtual drills to ensure familiarity in a real-life situation.
Central to these solutions is the principle of modernising the IT core of a company itself. Suraj explained that systems such as process management software should be integrated with newer systems which enable the whole corporate system to be digital-ready. In this way, each new project does not require an entirely new or bespoke solution, providing cost-effectiveness and a degree of future proofing.
The company is currently in the middle of a global digitisation project for a large, global integrated oil major, involving millions of documents in the form of seismic, well logs, well reports and maps, as well as a similar pilot project involving an Upstream operator in the Nordics. He notes that reappraisal of historic data has been one of the driving forces behind the US shale boom, and that “the potential exists for UK to do the same, except that these technologies have to be adopted.”
Yet perhaps the greatest advice for all E&P companies, whatever their size, is to recognise the value that can be realised from working with existing information in a smarter way – whether that’s subsurface data, predictive maintenance or emergency response. As the volume of data generated by everyday operations increases, managing and understanding the data already in your possession is vital. As Suraj mused: “You don’t know what you don’t know.”