Simplify hydrocarbon allocation and production reporting

Paul Boughton

Traditional production reporting and hydrocarbon allocation systems have time, cost and security drawbacks. Sean Ottewell reports on a solution which overcomes these problems.

Over the years the costs and complexity associated with production reporting and hydrocarbon allocation systems have been a major drawback for many operators. Today, as asset lifetimes are decreasing dramatically, the huge time involved in getting such systems up and running is proving an additional drawback. As a result, many operators find it less trouble to maintain manual systems on spreadsheets or even on paper.

However, production reporting and hydrocarbon allocation are becoming ever more troublesome as the exploration business becomes more complicated.

For example, many fields today have multiple partners, each having a requirement to know how their own wells are performing.

So not only is there the difficulty of the initial measurement - often a tricky mixture of oil, gas and water - but then the correct quantities have to be allocated back to the correct partner. How does this affect tariff agreements and ownership rights? Does the mass value at one end reconcile with the one at the other end? What happens if it does not?

"In essence these are relatively simple calculations overall, but certainly non-trivial to achieve," says Peter Black, md of EnergySys Limited, a UK-based company which has just launched a novel solution to tackle this problem.

Asset information

Known as EnergySys On Demand, it is a fully-hosted online service that is designed to make it easier and faster to manage and deliver asset information.

At the moment, much of the information needed to generate the spreadsheets is aggregated manually from a variety of sources including DCSs and historians.

"The big problem with this manual approach is that you have absolutely no control. Most historians are not designed as reporting repositories and are therefore not configured to run generalised reporting tasks either. So, for example, you don't get information such as daily operations comments.

In addition, such sources are not secure, lack audits trails and it is not appropriate for people to access them over the web," he says.

The EnergySys software sits on the company's own servers, along with all the storage, backup and support needed for the service aspect of the solution. It is an on-demand service, delivered via a low-cost, per user per month, subscription. All configuration and operation of the system is done using a standard web browser, and the flexibility and power of the tool is such that entire new applications can be built without the need for software changes.

"Users can load their data manually, write their own program to do it, or we can write one for them. Compare this with the old fashioned way of hooking the spreadsheet of your choice to a DCS. Avoiding the complexities of data management is a big advantage with this solution," notes Black.

The spreadsheet engine

At the heart of the EnergySys software is the Actuate e.Spreadsheet engine. Because the product uses spreadsheet files as the basis for all its business rules, it instantly overcomes the traditional challenge of building a system that is easy to change.

At the same time, however, the software also ensures that the data is secure and that an audit trail is maintained (Fig. 1). So, for example, only authorised individuals can load or change business rules. Information is then retained on what the changes were and who made them. To complete the picture, and deliver the flexibility and power that is needed in such a solution, the company has developed its own custom object technology to allow users to build and extend the application without code, and to define data to be loaded and stored by the rules.

The EnergySys product also includes an integrated Java application server as standard, bringing all of the benefits of enterprise Java in terms of security, transactions and support for modular architectures.

For storage, the built-in Oracle database engine provides the ideal repository for all of the business rules and data. Fast, flexible, and open to extension, the implementation in EnergSys addresses the need to support rapid and cost-effective change.Customers also benefit from a powerful built-in reporting solution that can be used to build attractive and compelling documents without any further license fees being payable.

Web service

Application reports can be delivered to users in a range of formats, including PDF, Microsoft Word, or XML via email or over the web, and can be made available through a web service in any of these formats. Reports can be produced and sent automatically at pre-determined times, or on trigger events, or the production and distribution can be manual. Reports can easily be stored on the file system, in the web directory, or stored in a document management system such as Livelink or Documentum.

"By making report distribution dynamic and, under strict security controls, available to end users on an on-demand basis, we can create real opportunities for new ways of working," says Black.

To ensure online security, the company's datacentre partner is BS7799- and ISO 27001-certified NTT. "This is your absolute guarantee of data security, and it probably exceeds the standards of many in-house solutions. Don't forget that the evidence is that the majority of security breaches come from sources within an organisation, not from external intruders."

In terms of cost, the service is typically £500 per month although this could be as low as £50-75 per month for larger numbers of users. There is no minimum subscription level, so even the smallest companies with a single user can get access to a complete solution with auditing, reporting, and secure storage and back-up.

System operation

EnergSys On Demand is already in use with a number of customers, the latest of these being Ithaca Energy (UK) Limited, operator of the Beatrice field in the UK North Sea. Ithaca's application is being configured by EnergySys' newly-appointed principal accredited partner Kelton, the Aberdeen-based specialist in flow and quality measurement to the oil and gas industry. Kelton is supporting Ithaca through all phases of the EnergySys project, from definition of the allocation and metering philosophy right through to system operation. For Ithaca, the online service ensures secure, reliable operation without the traditional need for investment in internal infrastructure of specialist IT skills.

"Ithaca is an archetypal customer. The company took over Talisman's operations in the North Sea and inherited a very complicated allocation system. What was required was an extremely flexible solution - which is exactly what we provide," said Black.

Iain Pirie, Operations Manager at Kelton, said: "By using our online service they get secure, reliable operation without the need for investment in internal infrastructure or specialist IT skills. We will support Ithaca through all the phases of their project, from definition of the allocation and metering philosophy through to operation of the system. EnergySys allows us to maintain the highest quality of service while delivering solutions rapidly and cost-effectively. We combine this with our expert advice to allow clients to maximise the value of their assets."

For the moment, EnergySys is concentrating on smaller customers such as Ithaca for whom the cost and time involved with traditional allocation and reporting systems is simply not feasible.

"The real fundamental of what we provide is accessibility to your information, the flexibility to change it, and low cost. Together, this overcomes all three of the traditional challenges. It's revolutionary in terms of its approach: people can make changes themselves without having to call in expensive people to do it for them," concluded Black

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