While data from above-ground operations have become increasingly optimized, the same is not necessarily true for subsurface operations.

One reason is that subsurface data often gets siloed, making it difficult for people in different project teams to access that data. To optimize subsurface operations, those teams need access to standardized, centralized and visualized data.

Once the data is easily available beyond the silos, it’s possible for teams to make real-time decisions based on that information.

The tendency to isolate data is unsurprising, said Alexander Edwards, product manager at Ikon Science.

“Different data standards, different procedures lead to siloed uses of data,” he said.

And specialties tend to lead to siloes as well.

Ikon Science collaborative workspace
Curate’s workspace brings users, workflows and data together in a shared environment. (Source: Ikon Science)

“If you’re in a single discipline, you naturally become specialized, and that leads to siloed thinking,” he added. At the same time, “technology in general has made us very interconnected and very interdependent.”

The problem: how to make the sharing of information simple, he said. To find a solution, Edwards said he started with breaking down operations into simple steps.

Whenever something was “not quite right with the pre-drill plan, or there was some uncertainty with the subsurface,” he said, the same questions always came up. “Did we have all the right data? Did we see the same thing on other wells?”

And time after time, he said, it came down to how people interacted with specific software.

“It’s not related to algorithms, not related to having the best notifications. It's down to how people work and interact with the system and application for well surveillance,” Edwards continued.

People can have access to live data, historical data, time data and depth data, and they can do historical matching of data, but no matter what they were doing, he said, the vital piece was the ability to “bridge the geosciences and operations so everybody can have access.”

That means the data – and the system – have to be easy for humans to use, he added. It’s long been possible for surface operations, he noted, but that capability has lagged for the subsurface.

Alex Edwards Ikon Science
(Source: Ikon Science)

"It’s not related to algorithms, not related to having the best notifications. It's down to how people work and interact with the system and application for well surveillance." – Alex Edwards, Ikon Science

“Everyone’s optimized above ground,” from drilling faster to optimizing brining pipe out of the hole, he said.

“The problem is, you’re still dealing with the subsurface,” Edwards said. “When you’re drilling the well, 10% of any well delivery workflow is actually related to the pore pressure and geomechanics. The other 90% is related to well engineering, and that is where everyone's optimized, too.

The 10% — pore pressure and geomechanics —  poses the greatest impact to health and safety and to risk in the environment. When it goes wrong, significant costs, environmental risks and, at worse, loss of life can occur.”

Solving the problem

Ikon Science’s Curate, a cloud-native subsurface knowledge management solution, has been on the market since April 2021. It allows users to search, appraise and use information contained in centralized data platforms.

Recent releases have added a Data Explorer capability that provides deep search capabilities and customizable data visualizations and the ability to have discussions within the software rather than having to rely on email for communications.

Edwards said that in the company’s experience, communication is still led by emails and other technologies. In short, he said, communications were cumbersome, difficult to track and not centralized. The ability to carry on discussions within Curate made it easier for the customer to monitor the well, improve well delivery and access information once the well was drilled, he said.

Curate is used to gather the information, regardless of where it resides, he said.

“It’s a lot more interactive,” Edwards said.

Curate monitors well and pore pressure and saves those interpretations, which drilling managers at rig sites can retrieve. And if a problem occurs, having shareable information displayed in a “really useful way” can help a user make a decision about what to do.

“When a well goes wrongly, it’s usually about 2 or 3 a.m., and no one wants to get up,” Edwards said. “You need to be able to make that decision and make it confidently.”