Petrobras has faced multiple challenges in exploring deepwater pre-salt reservoirs since 2006. These large reservoirs located under massive salt domes are extremely difficult to drill because of low penetration rates and the nature of the salt formations that can be over 2,000 meters thick, presenting different drilling characteristics along the drilling path. It was common in the early days of pre-salt exploration to have pipes get stuck and the ever-present problem of torsional resistance due to the shifting of the viscous salt environment and the problems caused by salt creep, which required increases in drillstring rotation and a very robust driveshaft in order to attain the targeted rates of penetration (ROP) for each section.
The highly corrosive drilling environment also requires specially developed mud and cement compositions for the completion processes due to significant amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and custom-made pipe metallurgy for successful drilling operations. However, the challenge imposed by pre-salt drilling also involved other solutions such as an increased and reliable data stream. Along these years of exploration, the National Operator and partners came up with many solutions to the pre-salt challenge, steadily managing to decrease drilling times, increase safety, while also decreasing costs.
During the last few years a small Brazilian company, Intelie Soluções em Informática SA, or just Intelie, managed to optimize critical pre-salt drilling operations through technological solutions specialized in stream data analytics with high data volumes and high data throughput. Intelie’s analytics platform has been instrumental in helping Petrobras find solutions to its data governance and analytics challenges, with its Real-time Operation Center assisting the development of Petrobras’s Libra pre-salt wells. Libra, one of the largest and most promising oil and gas production projects ever developed globally, has reservoirs that are among the most productive in the world, with light oil columns measuring up to 400 meters thick.
Petrobras, which worked with Intelie mainly on well planning and real time operations for drilling and completion, claims that using Intelie software allowed it up to 90% cost savings when compared to the previous software. The savings, it said, came almost instantaneously even without factoring in the cost reductions attained from the new drilling hardware technologies and components used in these drilling operations. Intelie’s data governance platform made it possible for the Petrobras to more efficiently and reliably consolidate all service provider data, enabling access from a single point.
An example of Intelie Live Charts (Image: Intelie)
Intelie Live works by collecting data from any source and processing all these data feeds in real-time to transform it into actionable information using machine learning. It works by continuously monitoring data streams from service providers and alerts users when critical functions deviate from plan and not permitting data collection interruptions to go unnoticed, allowing timelier data-driven reactions on predicted operational behavior. Intelie vitally depends on highly reliable communications services to ensure constant and synchronized data delivery, for the fundamental reason that its reliable prediction models are based on live data.
Petrobras is adamant that with the knowledge accumulated over the years in pre-salt operations and with technological hardware and software innovations, the average cost to lift pre-salt oil has dropped gradually over the past few years. From US$9.1 per boe in 2014, to US$8.3, in 2015, and less than US$8 in the first quarter of 2016. In 2018, it impressively dropped below US$7.
According to Petrobras sources, Intelie’s RTO Live analytics platform solved both their data governance and analytics challenges in one go, by allowing an efficient consolidation of service providers’ data enabling access from a single access point and automatically recoding the data to ensure a consistent taxonomy.
Critically for Petrobras, Intelie´s platform allowed it to reduce data costs from field services companies, reduce data request cycle times from days to seconds, perform both standard and more customized analyses in less time and with lower software licensing costs, deliver guaranteed data from service providers and ensure data standards compliance, all in one package.
In January 2018, Houston based RigNet, a global provider of customized systems and solutions bought Intelie. RigNet´s private network is connecting about one-third of connections to rigs worldwide. It also specializes in customized systems and solutions, offering complex data networking and operational technologies. After the acquisition, which RigNet has managed to sell Intelie´s software to other major oil and gas players. RigNet stated that the acquisition was expected to leverage Intelie's capabilities and market position to distinguish and enhance RigNet's bundled communications services.