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Real-Time Operation Centers: a digital transformation of drilling operations

Real-Time Operation Centers (RTOCs) are becoming an essential part of the oil and gas industry. In this blog post, Lívia Alves de Oliveira, Real-Time Monitoring Specialist at ESSS Oil and Gas, discusses the daily routine of an RTOC and how new digital tools for monitoring can improve decision-making, communication, and safety across a company’s operations.

Real-Time Operation Centers are a reality that is here to stay

Real-Time Operation Centers are not just a new trend. Drawing upon a group of professionals to sit and think together instead of relying on documents has been proven effective in the oil and gas industry over recent years. This approach fosters collaboration and reduces the time spent on communication later in the process. The RTOC process is multidisciplinary, involving specialists from several areas of knowledge to brainstorm and achieve better planning, execution, and performance.

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted many different industries to expand the use of remote tools as much as possible for all types of jobs. The oil and gas industry is no different, and the digital transformation that was already underway presented itself as a solution for even more issues. Today’s digital transformation advances efforts toward automation by using algorithms and artificial intelligence to improve monitoring analyses.

The routine at a RTOC

The routine at a RTOC is very dynamic. Teams work 12-hour shifts on a 14×14-day schedule. The monitoring drilling engineer deals with lots of different demands. Usually there is hitch split, half being done as a day shift, half being done as a night shift.

Having all relevant personnel in the same room allows for easy communication flow which is especially helpful when information is crucial for decision-making that can save lives, costs, and materials. Instantaneously, doubts are resolved, confirmations are made, operational issues are transmitted, and relevant engineering discussions are held because key players are sitting close to the monitoring engineer, 24 hours a day.

As an example, our monitoring team has warned engineers about operational problems such as washouts, which saved our client millions of dollars. In these cases, real-time communication is critical to make the best decision possible with the best information available.

Digital tools for monitoring

Monitoring requires lots of attention, and the most important soft skill for a monitor is being able to multitask, as there are usually several wells to be monitored in real-time simultaneously (for safety, there is a maximum of 4 wells per operator). The drilling engineer needs to be able to focus on priorities and smoothly manage the other demands in a proper time window. Communicating and accurate reporting of each activity’s status and to-do list for the next shift partner are crucial,  given the intrinsic requirements of this group job structure. Working within a team ensures better performance than when one individual works alone.

To be able to handle so much information at the same time, companies need the support of the right tool to help to raise alarms and predict scenarios. The ESSS Oil and Gas drilling digital twin is created for this purpose. This powerful tool has been used since 2014 as an SaaS (Software as a Service) model, consistently delivering good results and client satisfaction. Developing and designing a software tool specifically to meet client needs also boosts response time, shortening the time between problem detection and the proper reaction to it.

Remote and automated operations are both the present and the future for the oil and gas industry. A key benefit of this approach is freeing up people from hands-on or routine work to focus instead on monitoring and thinking about processes. In addition, removing the maximum possible personnel from dangerous areas such as rig sites significantly improves safety and reduces costs.

For more information about how ESSS Oil and Gas Real-Time Monitoring can help your company go further, contact us today

Lívia Alves de Oliveira

Real-Time Monitoring Specialist, ESSS O&G

Lívia Oliveira holds a Bachelor's degree in Petroleum Engineering from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. Her experience spans 11 years in drilling operations. Since 2021, Lívia has been working at ESSS with a 24x7 real-time monitoring team, using the company’s drilling digital twin software and providing support to other initiatives to develop R&D projects related to simulation and new software technologies.

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