Daily production optimization

Daily production optimization

This is a topic page to show an overview of a sub field of Integrated operations, describing the knowledge developed by the IO Center

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To determine the optimal production strategy in day to day operations is often difficult. An asset may have several bottlenecks, and balancing the tradeoff between these, with the goal of squeeze through as much oil and gas as possible, may definitely be non-intuitive. On- and off-line simulators are commonly used for decision support, both to monitor and to perform what-if studies. During a what-if study, you are essentially conducting a “manual optimization”, testing alternative strategies and choosing the best one based on a predefined goal, e.g. maximum production of oil. In this activity we utilize several modeling and optimization techniques, jointly called SmartOpt, to automatically online, in a few seconds, generate optimal recommendations.
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Optimizing daily production is of great importance to all oil companies. It includes many aspects, such as maintenance, logistics, process regulatory control, reservoir management and of course well control for optimal utilization of your production and process facility, which is the focus of this IO Center toptic. How can you optimally utilize your production system, which may contain several bottlenecks, so that you e.g. maximize the throughput of oil?

To highlight the complexity, consider the following problem – Maximize oil production by distributing gas for gas-lift on wells with artificial lift, finding choke settings on naturally flowing wells, routing subsea wells between production pipelines, and routing topside wells and production lines between the inlet separators. This should be done while acknowledging the handling capacity constraints on total gas-lift, total liquid production, total water production and total gas production. At the same time one needs to ensure that the production system is pressure feasible.

We could break the search for the best decision, into several layers and place them in a decision pyramid, see Figure 1. On top we have the goal or target and the decision space for how you are allowed to opperate the production system. At the botom you have the accual hardware where the decision should be implemented. When concidering and evaluating a production strategy, you need to have an idea of how your production system would respond. If you go 20 years back in time, this was the task of an experienced production engineer. It stil is, however more and more assets have production simulators that is essentially “automating” the prediction of system behvoiur. Given that the simulator gives a god prediction of the productions system’s response to a certain production strategy, a what-if study could be conducted on top of the simulator to search for the best strategy. This task is still conducted manually by the production engineer on almost all assets. 

The IO Center research on this topic seeks to automate this “what-if” study on top of the production network simulator, by utulizing stat-of-the art optimization algorithms, combined by advanced modeling techniques that utulize the strucutre of the production and process system, to atuomatically online real-time, provide optimal recommendations

By adding recommendation capabilities to existing software tools, the production engineer will have more time to focus on other important issues, such as well monitoring. This includes questions like; what is the preferred operational envelope for each well, and is the inflow performance ratio predicting the well behavior accurately for the recommended (optimal) production strategy, etc.

Pilot projects

On this topic, two lage pilot projects have been conducted:

  • From 2007 to 2011, the IO4 project had an extensive collaboration with Statoil's Troll west field. Troll west is one of the world largest subsea developments, with more than 100 subsea wells and a complex production system with many well to pipeline routing options. The oil zone is between 5 to 20 meters, which makes the wells gas to oil ratio and water cuts, rate and time dependent. The platforms have limited handling capacity of gas and water. During this period, the IO Center pilot project developed several methods that try to maximize the oil throughput while honoring the gas and water handling capacity, by finding the best routing and choke settings. The interested reader, which likes to know more about the problem and the methods we applied, is referred to the pilot project topic page.

  • Since 2010 and up to today, IO4 is working together with Petrobras to develop and implement a production optimization method that should find the optimal production strategy for their Marlim P-35 FPSO. The P-35 production system is complex, with both subsea and platform wells, where gas-lift rates, choke settings, and well and pipeline routing needs to be decided. The main difference compared with the Troll field is that one can assume constant gas to oil rations and water cuts for a period of several weeks. Hence, the production decision is complex, but the reservoir conditions stable, which makes a steady state production optimization strategy very relevant. The interested reader, which likes to know more about the problem and the methods we apply, is referred to the pilot project topic page.

  • On January 2013, IO4 started a pilot project together with BP, which will utilize the results from former pilots, to develop an optimization strategy for fields in both the North Sea and Angola where BP has a working interest. More information could be found here. 

Optimization techniques

Since 2007, IO4 has continuously developed and improved our method pool for day to day steady-state production optimization. During the last six years, our research group has built an extensive experience on which methods that exist and their pros and cons regarding solution speed, quality and robustness. A detail overview on techniques, and our current ongoing research can be found here.

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