Neptune Energy developing digital powerhouse for global E&P operations

Dec. 1, 2021
Over the past two years, the company has implemented digital projects with various service providers targeting performance improvements in all aspects of E&P.

Offshore operators now routinely talk up the benefits of digital technologies, but Neptune Energy has been one of the more proactive advocates. Over the past two years, the company has implemented digital projects with various service providers targeting performance improvements in all aspects of E&P, from seismic and well data management to drilling, production, and maintenance. Some of the solutions could be hyped as ‘leading edge,’ but as the company constantly stresses, the thinking behind them is relatively straightforward: to provide better access to data for its global teams, helping them to maximize efficiency and reduce waste in all aspects of the business.

According to Chief Information Officer Kaveh Pourteymour, Neptune’s digital agenda encompasses  five main initiatives: Subsurface and Related Technologies to support exploration; Digital Assets - running facilities with digital technology to make them more reliable and emissions-friendly; Digital Supply Chain and Back Office – to improve sourcing and make the supply chain and the back office functions highly efficient and ‘agile’; Digital Workplace Solutions – equipping employees with digital tools and platforms to maximize efficiency and collaboration; and Next-Generation IT  transforming IT operations, which includes moving Neptune’s data centers into the Cloud and creating the right IT operating model and digital partner ecosystem. 

Another development is focus on “business intelligence” under which a series of digital dashboards are created, supplied with information from the company’s data ‘warehouses.’ “The aim is to break down silos of data and enable actionable insights,” Pourteymour explained. “To date we have put together around 50 dashboards and 250 key performance indicators (KPIs) for staff to act on that are readily accepted across our organizations. We believe it’s a unique process for the industry, based exclusively on our own requirements.”

Coordinating these various actions is a small pool of data scientists, although he insists that “the real data scientists are the business users, who understand what problems they have and what business solutions are needed. Our team helps these users identify KPIs, sourcing the data and normalizing it. In some cases, such as HSSE, all the data sits in one system, but there are other areas where there are multiple different systems. In each case, our data warehouse is used to normalize that data.

“Some companies will obtain an analytics tool which they then release to all in their organization for everyone to develop their own solutions. To me, that’s basically a glorified spreadsheet. In our case, we develop dashboards in an integrated and consistent manner, with some level of in-built intuition so that the users require zero training to use it. When we embarked on this process we started methodically, moving from a concept to scale, KPI by KPI, function by function, dashboard by dashboard. The benefit of this approach is that you can not only deliver but demonstrate value early on, so that the business starts using it. It is also important to create the right conditions for working collaboratively - not just delivering a technical solution, but emphasizing the benefits of adopting a ‘new’ technology. As another example, when the pandemic started, we smoothly transitioned into remote working, enabling Microsoft Teams within a week or two, also working with our communications team to build Microsoft Teams into the fabric of how the organization communicates.

“Our approach is based on demonstrating value to management. There is no ‘blank cheque’ to implement any digital solution whatsoever: we have to be focused and ensure that each technology investment produces measurable results that lead to improvements in safety, production optimization, exploration success, or project engineering performance.”

Early in 2020 Neptune announced a new digital subsurface strategy targeting faster discovery of hydrocarbons, lower exploration costs, and bringing discoveries into production earlier than current industry norms. A series of capabilities have been delivered under this strategy including establishment of Subsurface seismic Data Hubs for Neptune’s Europe and Asia Pacific teams, enabling them to share their data and experience where required, and high-performance computing established for faster reservoir modelling.

The Hybrid cloud solution provider Cegal’s GeoCloud technology has been deployed across Neptune, improving collaboration between geoscientists in multiple global locations, which has proved especially valuable during remote working imposed by the pandemic. “The GeoCloud-enabled workstations allow our geoscientists to access large volumes of seismic data from anywhere,” Pourteymour said. “Recently we went live with the latest edition of GeoCloud, which has improved the pace at which our teams can connect and collaborate with one another. Essentially, these improvements enable them to spend more of their time on value-adding work, and avoid unnecessary delays.”

As part of the same program, Neptune signed a three-year agreement in October 2020 to adopt Halliburton’s DecisionSpace 365 (DS 365) well construction cloud applications. These are designed to assist well planning, through streamlining well construction programs; creating digital twins of the wellbore and monitoring well activities; developing automated workflows to adjust planned activity to field conditions; and to provide warnings of potential issues during well construction. The applications are powered by Halliburton’s iEnergy Hybrid Cloud system, which serves as a repository for Neptune’s global drilling and wells data. Neptune’s goals include reducing the time spent on well planning from weeks to days; consolidating data currently spread out across multiple locations onto a single platform; and cutting non-productive time from wells. Using the digital twins of the wells enabled by DS 365, the teams can also plan and track the progress throughout the wells’ lifespan and model ways of improving performance or predicting problems before they arise.

“Before, our drilling and wells teams operated four different systems, including Halliburton software. The new arrangement provides a global view of our drilling competencies. We managed to get all of this information into the Halliburton support system and into the Cloud environment. Ever since there has been a continuous improvement in drilling: the system has also allowed us to build a digital dashboard on top to share progress, depth drilled, cost of the drilling campaign and so on. This was an initiative championed by our global head of drilling and wells. Ultimately, it’s all about continuously improving performance, reducing costs, implementing data quickly, and replacing legacy environments with one central system connected globally via the Cloud.” 

Earlier this year Neptune announced another initiative to build digital twins (DTs) of all its subsea wells across the Norwegian continental shelf. This is a collaboration with InformatiQ, an oil and gas data visualization specialist which combines data from wells and the subsurface to create detailed 3D models. InformatiQ’s GeologiQ cloud-based software ingests E&P data in 3D and 2D environments, using computer gaming technology to allow the drilling and wells teams to visualize both historical and live well data so that they can improve well design and apply lessons learned in future operations. This has improved the company’s ability to plan interventions, monitor drilling and production in real time, and better understand the wells’ history. The teams in Norway are also continuously enhancing their models as new wells come onstream. Potentially, Pourteymour added, the use of the GeologiQ software could be extended to HSSE and production monitoring. “And as the platform develops, the users are suggesting new applications for the DTs.”

Another development entailed the creation of DTs of five Neptune-operated offshore platforms in the North Sea, in partnership with Aberdeen-based 3D technology specialist Eserv. The platforms serve the K-9A, L5-D and F3-B fields in the Dutch sector, Gjøa in the Norwegian Sea, and Cygnus in the UK southern gas basin. According to Pourteymour, the DTs are being used by over 100 technicians that would previously have had to travel offshore for pre-engineering inspections, and site surveys. “Some can now do that work onshore prior to heading offshore. This speeds up work schedules and cuts travel-related emissions.  And our onshore teams working anywhere worldwide can also access the DTs to provide further support.