[Editor's note: A version of this story appears in the July 2020 edition of E&P. Subscribe to the magazine here. It was originally published July 2, 2020.]  

In the face of the current downturn, operators are look­ing for ways to ensure assets and resources return max­imized value, especially in their drilling programs where optimal utilization and minimal downtime of rigs are crit­ical. While more companies in the industry are digitizing their operations, selecting scheduling software for their operations is emerging as a new way to maximize return on assets and lower risk.

Recently, a U.S. E&P company was confronted with the drawbacks of not using digital well scheduling. The com­pany had gone through years of organic growth accom­panied by a series of acquisitions, each having its own way of scheduling. The company had no single, uniform process to sched­ule its operations across drilling, completions and facilities disciplines. In addition, its efficiency and reve­nues were being negatively impacted because, as it had grown, so did its number of well delivery scheduling methods. Adding to this problem was the fact that Big Data was com­ing to the forefront in the industry, further emphasizing the need for a central scheduling platform.

The company explored five differ­ent scheduling software solutions, including a custom-built in-house application. Based on its data model, visualization capabilities, ease of inte­gration, ability to run multiple scenarios and compare analytics plus more, the company selected Actenum’s schedule optimization software.

A single source of the truth

The software provides a single source of truth for all drill­ing activities without having to rely on multiple spread­sheets. Everyone sees the same information at the same time in one place and understands why schedule changes are being made. Using a single platform that is accessible anywhere, it also promotes collaboration between team members and 24/7 planning from everywhere.

Scheduling a well delivery project with more than a handful of rigs and wells is a demanding process for two key reasons. First, making appropriate decisions about how to assemble and manage the schedule is complex because of the number of possible alternatives at any given point. As activities and resources are added to a schedule, the number of sequencing/timing constraints to be satisfied increases exponentially. For example, while scheduling two drilling rigs over 25 wells is reason­ably straightforward, as additional rigs, wells and other well delivery activities are incorporated, the process becomes difficult to manage well.

Secondly, well delivery scheduling operates in an inherently dynamic environment. Any given schedule will only be valid for a short period, circumstances change because of planned and unplanned events, and reschedul­ing must be done. With numerous wells, the E&P company needed to consider these challenges going for­ward. Initially, the company wanted to schedule only drilling and com­pletions using the Actenum software. However, after starting a pilot pro­gram with one business unit, three months later all business units within the company were using the software.

Scenario Comparison for Schedule Health and KPI Analysis
This screenshot shows the ability to compare scenarios and see both visual and key metric comparisons across the two scenarios. (Source: Actenum Corp.)
LIfecycle Visualization of Integrated Schedule
This schedule shows the life-cycle view for a set of wells. Operations have been batched across all activity types, meaning all activities have multiple wells associated with them. (Source: Actenum Corp.)

Rapid configuration

Configuration and implementation of the software are performed rapidly with the entire process typically com­pleted within three to four weeks, including scheduling user training. For the E&P company, it was the fastest discovery-to-implementation process it had ever experi­enced. Additionally, for the first time, the company had an enterprise-wide scheduling system that provided management insight into all the activities going on across all business units.

Prior to implementation, the disciplines of drilling, completions and facilities worked in silos at the company. Each would make changes to their specific schedules without the other knowing. As a result, each discipline would have to laboriously check with the others to deter­mine the impact of the changes, and even then, opera­tions sometimes became unsynchronized. Using the software, as the composite schedule in real time, the impact of any change is reflected throughout all dis­ciplines, and there is no more wasted time checking changes manually.

The company has found that one of the key benefits of the software is a reduction in the time it takes to make informed decisions. Prior to adopting the soft­ware, it took eight engineers two weeks to create and evaluate scenarios that would enable them to lock in their quarterly budget. After implementing the schedul­ing software, it took only one planning analyst and two engineers two days to complete this exercise.

A fundamental change at work

After only three months, Actenum scheduling software fundamentally changed the way the company worked. With the software, the company was able to create a com­prehensive schedule that laid out well delivery tasks and resources so that everything was in one place and syn­chronized. Planning is now completed faster and more accurately, and the company gains immediate insights into how changes to the schedule impact costs and other business goals.