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Transforming the energy sector with digital technology

The traditional energy industry is increasingly adopting digital technologies, ranging from the internet of things (IoT), machine learning, to the widespread use of sensor technology. Oil companies use such sensor technology, for example, to create “smart wells”, which help them improve how they maintain the well, thus avoiding the significant business impact of any downtime. Creating such smart wells is the focus of this case study, highlighting how Belatrix supported one international energy company create the technology platform to enhance its production efficiency and improve well maintenance.

Energy companies need to use digital technology to enhance productivity

Despite the rise of renewable energy sources, oil and gas remain the preeminent source of the world’s energy. Research by the International Energy Outlook indicates that in 2040, petroleum and natural gas will be the most significant energy sources for world consumption. The question therefore that every oil and gas company is currently looking at, is how can they use digital technologies to improve their production efficiency to meet worldwide demand? How can they use technology to increase production while lowering unit cost?

Why this energy company started work with Belatrix

This company is involved in every aspect of the exploration and production of oil and gas. It has nearly 50,000 employees around the world, and has built a strong reputation over the years for pushing the frontier of using technology.

Aware of their need to further improve their efficiency and prevent well downtime, executives decided to engage with Belatrix for our technical expertise, and help in creating the technology behind its smart wells. The project had the objective to create an automated platform, which would control the tasks and inventory involved in maintaining its oil wells.

Executives wanted to create a new web product to manage and keep track of maintenance that third party engineers performed on its oil wells. Executives also needed to create a new product for mobile devices to enable them to track on-site the wells’ maintenance. Creating such an “intelligent well”, where maintenance is efficiently tracked, means the company can significantly enhance productivity whilst minimizing downtime for the well.

The importance of preventative maintenance – well uptime has a direct financial impact

By improving the maintenance of its wells, the company can ensure they run uninterrupted for longer periods. One of the biggest risks facing any oil company is if their wells stop working, and they are faced with the corresponding loss of production. Equipment uptime directly correlates to an oil company’s financial results. However, conducting effective preventative maintenance remains challenging – research indicates that up to a third of every dollar spent on preventative maintenance is actually wasted.

Therefore, by improving how it tracks the maintenance of its wells, this oil company could improve how it conducts this work – and refine how it makes decisions regarding a wells’ maintenance.

When the project started, we used Agile methodologies for both development and testing, including task planning and progress reports. We arranged the project according to two week sprints.

The results of building the new maintenance platform

With the new platform, the company can now easily control the inventory of expensive supplies and devices, which are typically handled by third-parties. This platform enables engineers and executives to:

  • Track work performed by third-parties on oil wells.
  • Read maintenance tasks which engineers need to perform on site in remote locations.
  • Log maintenance tasks performed by third-parties to facilitate billing.
  • Perform data-mining activities to detect patterns of failures and maintenance.
  • Keep oil wells running uninterrupted for longer periods.

The end result of the project was the company could keep its oil wells running uninterrupted for longer periods, providing direct business and financial benefits.

Technologies involved

The following list details the technologies and methodologies used in the project for software development and quality assurance services:

.NET Framework 4, ASP.NET, C#, Entity Framework, Language Integrated Query (LINQ), JQuery, SQL Server, Compact SQL, .NET Compact Framework.

We developed and performed manual and automated test cases. We conducted stress and performance testing using Open STA, Windows Communication Foundation (WCF), JQuery, HTML5, SQL Server.

 
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