Modern digital technologies, sensor networks and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) enable operators to acquire and access larger amounts of data than ever before. As additional information becomes available for completions in unconventional resources, companies have ever-increasing potential to benefit from this wealth of data encompassing the entire life cycle of a well. Whereas most recently it has been the lower oil price that drove operational efficiencies in unconventional plays, digital technologies will lead the next wave of data-driven efficiency improvements, optimization of production and resource recovery. Ongoing developments will lead data analytics to the forefront of the oil and gas industry.

Integrated approach to data acquisition

Modern oilfield machinery is increasingly equipped with sensors and other IIoT devices. Every unconventional drilling and completions operation includes trucks, pumps, blenders, pump lines, valves, transducers and hundreds of pieces of hardware and equipment as well as many workers. Nearly every piece of machinery has embedded sensors.

Companies are increasingly using or investigating data analytics-based predictive maintenance programs; thus, with more data available and appropriate software, costly failures and glitches can be predicted and avoided.

Real-time data on formation and wellbore conditions during hydraulic fracturing are scarce, expensive and difficult to obtain without intervention inside the wellbore. For those reasons, outside of the standard operational and machinery parameters, no wellbore-condition parameters are monitored during a typical hydraulic fracturing operation. This results in less-than-optimal stage and well performance.

Seismos offers a real-time view into the wellbore. The company developed a technology based on borehole geophysics science to address this need without wellbore intervention. This technology combines proprietary geophysics with custom-smart, surface-based, noninvasive sensors and connected devices to acquire wellbore acoustic signals and process data to monitor the stimulation operation in real time. The signals provide typically unavailable measures on the state of the wellbore and fracture network that enriches existing well data information.

The Seismos suite of products focuses on monitoring perforation effectiveness and well connectivity in real time, identifying operational abnormalities before they cause shutdowns and allowing monitoring of near-well and far-field fracture properties, namely connectivity to the wellbore and reservoir.

The onsite acquisition, joint data streams and a processing module perform measurements throughout the fracturing process offering valuable insights and early warning signals. Each local node is connected to the cloud; acquisition and management of constant multichannel data streams in kilohertz ranges present a Big Data challenge, especially in combination with onsite pumping parameters. The expanded dataset can be incorporated along with the well data information for a more comprehensive understanding of the wellbore, state and progress of the hydraulic fracturing operation.

Processed and analyzed, real-time data streams provide instant feedback on the ongoing operations and information available to the person in charge both onsite and in the office. Taking a real-time approach allows the lead engineer or operator to identify abnormalities and make appropriate, timely and informed decisions or adjustments concurrently with ongoing treatment—all without downhole intervention. The measurements allow the operator to tweak pumping designs and treatments from stage to stage for more agile, flexible and stageoptimized completions. By updating completion design, spacing, sand parameters and other specifications in real time, operators can manage geological and financial risks for optimal success rate.

Seeing the big picture

Acquiring data is only a first step in creating value and data-driven efficiencies. Without disturbing the operations flow, all additional information and data that exist should be incorporated and tied together wherever possible. The data must be properly managed, not only acquired and stored. Good data management will preserve access, reliability, relevance and relationships among various datasets.

Performing larger-scale data analytics that allow data mining is the next step in getting the most value out of the data. To make sense of the ongoing development, access to real-time, cloud-based processing of acoustic data can give insights on expected relative stage productivity. As the datasets grow and more information (such as well logs or historical production data) enters the data store, engineers can rapidly query the database for various questions and seek correlations, not only about the ongoing jobs but also on a host of prior completions. The machine learning algorithms then provide additional insights that inform the engineers on expected efficiency and production, giving them the tools to make better decisions.

Seismos applies advanced pattern recognition to identify typical behavior of stages that tend to screen out, typical optimal treatment designs, correlations between top producing stages, top producing wells, operational techniques and/or unique challenges encountered during completions. The task for the engineers is then to use this augmented knowledge to design even more productive completions.

The fundamental paradigm shift to bespoke stage design opens up the potential to significantly increase the number of stages that contribute to overall production. As an additional benefit, the data can be used as an input to fracture models, to improve simulations and to help optimize future completions.

Seeking hidden value in utilizing broader datasets and their relationships, Seismos’ overall goal is to provide a smart, interactive, real-time cloud platform for operators and fracture engineers to aggregate, review and connect data in a useful way. This requires advanced data analytics, statistics and machine learning to truly leverage all the datasets. A practical, platform-independent graphical user interface with the most up-to-date information offers a solution. It is supplied through a web browser, delivering valuable results.

This information can be ready in near-real time and then streamed for fracture engineers in the office, who can then communicate proposed changes based on real-time data to the onsite fracturing crew. Seismos provides a portal that combines several of these capabilities in one user-friendly interface designed to be simple, robust, affordable, up-to-date and accurate. Such applications are poised to initially enter the more datarich and real-time demand sector of unconventional plays (hydraulic fracturing) but, with the addition of production information and monitoring, they will likely transfer across the spectrum to more conventional, existing wells or older reservoirs.