Aera Energy is Driving Operational Performance in Oil and Gas with OSIsoft PI

By Rick Rys

Industry Trends

At the 2018 OSIsoft user conference, Aera Energy described their IT journey to take advantage of their operating data by using the OSIsoft PI system to drive operational performance in oil and gas. Aera Energy takes advantage of the OSIsoft core product strengths of collecting and organizing valuable real-time streaming process data and providing the toolsets to interact with that data.

Aera Energy deals with data quality, IT cloud issues, and data analytics applications to achieve operational performance in oil and gas

Aera Energy focuses on collecting quality data and making the data easily accessible and visible to end user stakeholders. This means organizing and presenting that data to control room operators, shift supervisors, maintenance staff, engineers, and plant managers on the display device of their, choice including mobile devices. Aera Energy uses data filters, transformations, and complex calculations and aims to present analytic results to the appropriate stakeholders in an easy-to-understand manner. Many speakers at the 2018 OSIsoft user conference discussed how they use data to drive actionable conclusions that improve operations. Aera Energy, for example, has gained value from its data by reducing the gap between IT and OT organizations.

Aera Energy is Driving Operational Performance
                                    Aera Energy - Drives Operational Performance in Oil and Gas


Aera Energy provides about 25% of California’s oil and gas.  Formed in June 1997, the company is jointly owned by affiliates of Shell and ExxonMobil, but operates as a stand-alone company with its own board of managers. With headquarters in Bakersfield, most of their production is centered in the San Joaquin Valley and they have oil field operations in Ventura and Monterey counties. Aera produces about 125,000 barrels of oil and 32 million cubic feet of natural gas each day. The Aera OSIsoft PI application contains 1.2 million tags with 30 active users. With many independent PLCs and distributed control systems at multiple sites, the OSIsoft PI database allows Aera Energy to bring accurate, high-quality data from all these sites into a central location where engineers and operations can use it to improve operations. The act of simply organizing plant data and creating graphic displays and trends that focus on critical plant operations “lights up” operational issues.

The OSIsoft real-time and historical trend displays are often found as a supplement to DCS or SCADA system trending in the operating control rooms in the chemical, oil, and gas industries.  Communications between humans often improves when operators, supervisors, and plant managers all share the same OSIsoft displays and trends.  

Aera Energy developed two key applications. The Operational Surveillance tool includes:

  • Flowmeter fouling dashboards
  • PID loop tuning analysis
  • Failed surface controls alerts
  • Measurement analytics tool suite
  • Pipeline health dash boards


The Engineering Surveillance tool performs these functions:

  • Wellbore integrity alerts
  • Well interaction analysis
  • Production allocation measurement dashboards
  • Pressure transient analysis

Aera Energy on an IT journey to collect and extract value from its plant operational data

Aera Energy is only part way through its journey to extract more value from their data. Aera Energy has extracted significant value from operating data without resorting to advanced analytics or machine learning algorithms. With simple high-speed real-time trending, for example, Aera Energy detected that pressure controls were oscillating on liquid full lines, requiring control system changes to stabilize the regulation of pipeline pressure. The company used the digital twin concept to model pipe segments and compute estimated pressure drops for various piping segments and display this information to operations. The improvements in pressure control and increased ability to see piping pressure drops helped reduce blockages and associated maintenance tasks.

Aera Energy undertook this project as part of their shift in IT culture. Perry Gentry and Marcus Colman were key players on the implementation team and received early management support for developing OSIsoft applications. While they did not initially have detailed return on investment calculations, they did have enough domain expertise to give them confidence they could justify such a significant investment. Their application focused on 150 steam generators, with roughly 96 tags per generator and included operations at the production wells.  The savings achieved from improved pressure control and using the digital twin to compute and reduce pipeline pressure drops easily justified the expenditure. The company estimated annual savings from this project at $6.8 million for their operational surveillance tool, and $7.2 million for their engineering surveillance tool. Aera Energy is continuing their journey and is currently evaluating data analytics and machine learning applications to get even more value out of their plant operating data.

ARC’s Market Analysis Report on data historians includes more detailed information on OSIsoft and other currently available data historians and data platforms.

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