How digital twin saved $20 Million for oil and gas production operators?

4 min read

Ever since the fall of the oil prices in 2014, operators are trying out each & every method possible in order to increase the production from their fields. But a list of challenges is also following them as far as equipment over the producing fields is concerned. The major portion of the issues is related to the unplanned downtime leading to decreased production by about 15%. Since most of the deployed oilfield equipment over the producing fields are more than 15 years old, more frequent unplanned down times are seen, causing losses of about $2 Billion in the production side of upstream operations.

About the oilfield equipment deployed over the producing fields, an important role is being played by a compressor, while considering both associated & non-associated gas reserves. Compressor normally works over different ranges for different purposes, ranging from transportation where normally it is 20 to 50 bar but when the operation is related to re-injection of gas into the reservoir for pressure maintenance, it increases to about 150 to 350 bar. Even while working for various operations, they encounter changes due to minute variation of physical factors, such as with the increase of every 100 psi, there is an increase of temperature of the gas stream by about 7-8 degree. The unplanned downtime for this equipment contributes around 20% of total mechanical unplanned downtime over the field. 

The unplanned downtime is mainly due to the failures, majorly related to the misalignment & bearing faults. Today, production technician has a schedule in place where they keep on track the maintenance for a compressor. If they experience any major deviation, they look deep into the problem, analyse the previous data & then conclude that a failure has taken place. To further investigate the cause of that failure, it would take around 8 hours every time. Since there is no conventional alternative approach to the situation, the whole process becomes time-consuming. Then he/she will take a tour to the field in order to have the maintenance activity carried, based upon the analysis which would’ve led to unplanned downtime counting in hours leading to delay in production, costing the operator hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

With the oil fields constantly moving towards digital oil fields, Digital Twin is no more an unknown word for the operators. By going through the definition, Digital Twin is a complete 360-degree digital replica of the equipment or process, deployed over the producing field, thus helping with the real-time monitoring & preventing unplanned downtime by helping detect the causes of the failures while sitting in the central operations centre. Still being on the reactive side of the maintenance as far as the equipment are taken into consideration, this feature proves to be a game changer for the operators.

So how the Digital Twin fit here? Let’s talk about a scenario where a Canadian oil and gas producer saved hours of unplanned downtime by detecting the causes of compressor failure in real time. This operator has multiple compressors spread over its producing fields. Earlier, the production technician used to follow the maintenance schedule & wasted around 6 hours while driving to the field in order to check the health of the compressor. Also, they were reactive in making the decisions as they lacked detecting which sub-component of the compressor had faced failure while analyzing operational parameters, so they faced a large amount of unplanned downtime. By introducing the feature of the digital twin, they were able to monitor the health of the compressor & monitor cylinder pressure, suction valve pressure, in real time, more accurately to get insights as to how well the compressor is performing. 

With the ability to perform these actions while sitting at the central operations centre of the operator, they were also able to perform simulations according to ever-changing well parameters like wellhead pressure, production flow rate to get hold of information as to how compressor will react to it. This gave them an edge to be ready for constant failure of angular misalignment, which was the major concern causing most downtime.  This solution helped the operator to manage the failures & was able to make trips whenever necessary to save time & hence this solution resulted in about $20 million due to the loss of production, the reason being the compressor failures.

Just like the instance discussed above, there are various operators producing oil and gas around the globe face compressor related issues such as angular misalignment, drive belt looseness etc. which can be solved using the solution of Digital Twin. Contact us if you are an operator facing the same issues or want to deploy this solution across a wide array of equipment like separators, tanks etc.

And stay tuned to our next post where you’ll get a more detailed understanding as to how operators are able to detect the underperforming wells & optimize their trip in order to reach out to each one of them in less time.

Derick Jose


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