Shell technology E&P ahead of competition – part one
"As we enter the 21st Century, we expect our technology capabilities to be a key to differentiating us from our competition."
In the demanding environment of the Middle East, we need to ensure that we and our partners are too fast to follow through maximizing the impact of Shell's technology solutions and innovations," says Tim Warren, Director of Shell Technology E&P (STEP).
In an exclusive interview with 'Shell in the Middle East', he goes on to give an overview of STEP's purpose and objectives for the future, and describes some of the latest innovations to have been developed by STEP.
'Shell in the Middle East' then focuses on two of these, namely Drilling the Limit™ and Expandable Tubulars, and their successful implementation in two Shell joint ventures in the Middle East, at Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations (ADCO) and at Petroleum Development Oman (PDO).
"The E&P Business, like any other business in the 21st Century, has to be cost effective, efficient and continually developing.
It is the role of Shell Technology E&P [STEP] to provide people in the field in Shell operating companies, in joint ventures in which Shell is a partner, and in companies in which Shell is a shareholder, with the technology to achieve this and stay ahead of the competition," says Tim Warren, Director of Shell Technology E&P (STEP).
"STEP consists of three separate divisions, Technology Applications and Research, Deepwater Services and Shell Technology Ventures.
The first, Technology Applications and Research, is responsible for providing a portfolio of technologies in such areas as sub-surface imaging, improved well production, production system optimization, maximizing economic recovery and skills and competence development, to name but a few.
Deepwater Services focuses on maintaining Shell's lead in the deepwater business, whilst the recently formed Shell Technology Ventures has been established to commercialize selected technologies which have been developed by Shell's E&P Business.
One of these is Twister™ - a revolutionary separator which can remove liquids from gas, cheaply and easily [see April 2001 edition of 'Shell in the Middle East'].
"STEP is a global organization and not only provides practical and technological solutions to E&P people throughout the world, but draws on the knowledge and experience of these people to provide leading-edge technology.
"Whilst STEP is physically located in The Netherlands - at Rijswijk, where the European Technology Center is located, at Noordwijkerhout, which is our Learning and Development center, and in the USA, in three locations in Houston and in New Orleans - it is also a global virtual organization using Internet technology to best advantage.
"One way in which we do this is through the creation of our Common Interest Networks. Using the STEP website on the Shell Wide Web Intranet, any E&P operative can post questions for others in the Shell E&P world to read.
For example, there is a drilling engineers' Common Interest Network, where a drilling engineer facing a problem with a well in Nigeria can describe his problem and may find that an E&P engineer working in Brunei can provide the solution.
"In the old days, we tended to focus on what each individual operating company wanted.
Today, we try to focus globally on what it is that operating companies need collectively and we aim to develop the best technology to suit everyone's needs. Working on a wider scale, we are able to provide the best value.
"Our research portfolio is divided into several different areas, each governed by a team leader responsible for managing the results.
We have introduced the concept of lead Implementers - and Syria Shell and Petroleum Development Oman [in which Shell has a 34 per cent shareholding] are two examples of lead Implementers.
We use these companies to focus on the fastest possible implementation of a new technology and to evaluate its effectiveness.
Technology is useless unless it is implemented, and speed is crucial in order to make available the right technology at the right time.
Once successful, this technology can then be implemented on a wider scale, allowing other companies to become Fast Followers, learning from the Implementers, and this increases their speed up the learning curve.
"Technology for technology's sake is not where we are coming from. STEP must make a positive contribution to the bottom line. One example where we have proven results today is with our new methodology, called 'Realizing the Limit'.
This aims to raise the bar by setting higher standards and goals for tomorrow and to keep on raising the bar as the new potential limits are realized.
Using this methodology, we have reduced well drilling costs by over 25 per cent [see right Drilling the Limit™].
"Another area where we are using ground-breaking technology successfully is by the introduction of Expandable Tubular linings for wells [see right and over page]. These will enable us to drill deeper, quicker, cheaper and 'smarter', and this technology is already being applied around the globe.
"These are just two of the latest value-enhancing innovations from STEP, but we have introduced many others, such as Smart well technology, Novel well design, High Pressure High Temperature wells and something we called Game Changer.
This is another way in which we manage and develop technology and by promoting innovative ideas to become fully-fledged projects in less than a month. In other words, Game Changer is a way of stimulating and managing innovation.
"Furthermore, our use of 3-D visualization and virtual reality is a new way of enabling teams from various sub-surface disciplines to come together to make more accurate and efficient decisions simultaneously.
"As we enter the 21st Century, we expect our technology capabilities to be a key to differentiating us from our competition.
In the demanding environment of the Middle East, we need to ensure that we and our partners are too fast to follow through maximizing the impact of Shell's technology solutions and innovations," he concludes.
Drilling the Limit™.
"Shell Exploration and Production is radically changing the way it does its business through a series of performance improvement initiatives, known collectively as 'Realizing the Limit'," explains Andrew 'Alf' Garnett, Drilling the Limit™ Consultant at Shell Technology Exploration & Production (STEP).
"These initiatives aim to achieve world-class performance in the areas of production optimization, the delivery of major projects, full lifecycle hydrocarbon resource management and the delivery of wells."Drilling the Limit™ is not a technology as such.
It is a well delivery process and performance philosophy which aims to attain business improvements by achieving what once may have been considered impossible levels of near-perfect performance.
To do this, you have to fundamentally change the way people work together within a business.
"In January 1998, Shell set up a team of experts from several disciplines to radically transform the way we deliver wells, from the twinkle in the eye of the geologist when he finds oil to the flow of oil from that well.
"The team went to a great many E&P companies both in and out of Shell, and some non-E&P companies, to study the way they did business.
From this study and the many success stories which we have within the Shell Group, we created the Drilling the Limit™ process, and have been successfully implementing it all over the world ever since.
"With Drilling the Limit™, typical cost reductions in the drilling of wells have been in the region of 20 to 25 per cent.
The reduction in the time taken to drill a well has been as much as 30 per cent, whilst some operating units have achieved even better results.
"The Drilling the Limit™ concept is implemented by a team from STEP in The Netherlands, the members of which introduce the idea to Shell operating units and joint ventures as a way of reducing the development costs of producing oil from a single well or a drilling campaign.
"My job is to convince our colleagues and partners in the operating units that Drilling the Limit™ really works.
They also have to be made aware of the fact that the process normally requires significant changes in the way a company operates. It is all about teamwork.
"Having introduced the concept, we explain the role that the operating unit will have to take. We start with the creation of a multi-disciplinary team made up of geologists, reservoir and well engineers, and representatives from all other disciplines involved in delivering wells.
As consultants, we then work with the team to help them establish a common goal in terms of the time and costs they can save in drilling new wells.
"We then teach them the Drilling the Limit™ process to enable them to achieve their goal.
We also provide technology and change management support, but in most cases much of the technical expertise is already available in the operating units.
It's a question of using it to full advantage. We also spot any technological gaps, if they exist, and offer technology solutions to fill those gaps.
"Our aim is to embed the new Drilling the Limit™ way of working into an operating unit before dialing ourselves out of the picture - a process which normally takes between six to twelve months, depending on the size of the operating unit.
"So we go in as consultants in change management and technology and then, hopefully, leave behind a legacy of better performance and a changed way of working with improved teamwork.
In the end, what counts is the way people work together as a team. People make the difference, not technology on its own," he concludes.
Source: Shell in the Middle East.com
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)
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