BP Leveraging IIoT to Optimize Well Production

By Tim Shea

Industry Trends

Following on a recent blog in which we highlighted BP’s leveraging GE’s IIoT solutions to optimize uptime and performance of its critical rotating equipment such as compressors, critical pumps and generators, we were even more excited to see the most recent highlights in which BP highlighted its reliance on GE’s Predix software to make its oil wells part of the Internet of Things (IoT).

Oil-and-gas giant BP has thousands of oil wells scattered around the globe.  The firm’s critical equipment pumps oil and some natural gas from the depths of the ocean to the surface to power our factories, cars, planes and any number of other industrial processes.  And after more than a decade of monitoring these platforms using homegrown software, BP is turning to GE to get an upgrade.

BP has started connecting 650 of its oil wells as part of a pilot project to test GE’s Predix data gathering and analytics platform.  Peter Griffiths, a strategist with BP, explains that the companies are in the design phase, but by the end of the year 650 wells will be connected, and each well will be dumping roughly half a million data points every 15 seconds into GE’s software.  If the pilot goes well BP will outfit a total of 4,000 wells before the end of 2016.

Previously, BP had built its own software to handle the data coming off the wells.  Each well can have 20 to 30 sensors that measure aspects such as pressure and temperature at the deepest level and closer to the surface.  Sensors also measure the surrounding equipment.  The goal is to understand the flow and quality of the oil or natural gas coming out of the ground so BP can predict the life of the well.

With GE’s software, BP will be able to collect and analyze the data from each well on the platforms almost instantly, and then send that data quickly to the Predix cloud for more analyses and storage.  The idea is that BP will see how each individual well is performing, but also get a fleet-wide view of them.  Once the data starts piling up, the software should help in predicting well flows so BP can proactively manage its extraction.

Griffiths said that while there is a lot of data coming off the wells, it is relatively small—only about 8 gigabytes or the size of two HD movies—so the real concern for BP was building a process that could be replicated across the world at all of its wells.  “This is a more standardized way of us doing something,” he said. “Previously we had four or five ways of doing it and now have a much more consistent approach.”

In ARC’s Strategy Report IIoT Strategies in Upstream Oil & Gas we discussed some of the many benefits that upstream oil & gas companies could realize when employing IIoT enabled solutions in various aspects of their value chain.  It is really exciting to see companies such as BP employing these solutions in order to more effectively operate in times of hydrocarbon price uncertainty and economic and political instability.  ARC believes strongly that those companies that invest in and continue to leverage automation, innovative upstream technologies, and IIoT enabled solutions will be the most successful in the future regardless of where oil and gas prices go or what economic or political crisis may exist.

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