BOPs Become the Focus of Data-Driven Scrutiny

Photo courtesy of BP.
Technicians working at the control desk of BP’s real-time offshore drilling monitoring center in Houston can draw from 25 screens with data and images showing operations in the Gulf of Mexico.

NOV’s pressure control research and development (R&D) laboratory is in a tall factory building with a row of large, thick-walled booths used to test how blowout preventers (BOPs) perform at extreme temperatures and pressures.

During a tour, NOV’s R&D Lab Manager Roger “Dale” Brown made a point of stopping to open a small electrical box. Nearly all of the 24 slots inside were filled with cartridges, each about the size of a deck of cards. The circuits inside them allow engineers to gather whatever sort of data they need from BOP tests and send it along to NOV’s central data recorder.

The box is a tangible sign of the industry’s growing appetite for data as it seeks ways to reduce risk, increase efficiency, and pare costs. For Brown, it represents a big change from how things were done just 5 years ago, when the only data available often were just printouts of spreadsheets and graphs of pressure test data stored in a file folder.

Having a deep pool of data is “like a different set of glasses,” he said, adding that, “I am asking questions I never asked before.”

At a time when sales of stacks of subsea well control equipment as tall as an office tower are all but dead, BOP makers such as Cameron, GE Oil & Gas, and NOV are all working on developing digital tools to address pressing problems facing customers. An issue for some is the well control rule from the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), which requires deepwater operators to gather real-time data from the BOP control system and come up with a way to do real-time monitoring where offshore data can be observed by expert advisers on shore.

“One of the things we are pushing for is an extra set of eyes onshore, the ability to bring expertise from other areas and provide technical support as issues arise,” said Doug Morris, chief of the office of offshore regulatory programs for BSEE.

The value of monitoring programs will depend on the quality of information that can be extracted from a growing flow of data, and the ability of those onshore to build relationships with drillers who trust that the advice is useful.

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BOPs Become the Focus of Data-Driven Scrutiny

23 June 2016

Volume: 68 | Issue: 7

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