Apache Opens Remote Operations Center

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Editorials
11/16/2017

Over the last two years, an increasing number of exploration and production companies have turned to oil field digitalization as a means to improve efficiency and reduce operating costs amid the low-price environment. Apache is capitalizing on this trend. This past summer, the company took steps toward expanding its digital strategy with the construction of a remote operations center in Elk City, Oklahoma.

The center, which came online in July, was built to help Apache optimize oil field operations, with a particular focus on reducing production downtime and improving the efficiency of trucking and hauling operations.

"The Elk City center takes large amounts of data from well pads and tank farms spread across thousands of square miles in southeast Texas and Oklahoma and aggregates it into a single, visual display that can be used by logistics and operations personnel for decision making," said Brad Eubanks, director of Production Efficiency at Apache. "This includes real-time data from Geotab, which tracks our trucks; ESRI, which is for mapping and spatial analysis; and CygNet, which shows all of our alarms and automation system data. By combining all of this information into a user-friendly platform, we're able to create a very clear picture of the oil field. This enables us to dispatch field personnel more efficiently and reduce equipment downtime, both of which have led to substantial cost savings."

Although the Elk City remote operations center has only been operational for three months, Apache is already seeing a return on its investment. "The center is manned by one person during normalworking hours, so it is a very leanly run operation," added Eubanks. "Because it is still new, we haven't been able to document everything, but we're already seeing savings of more than $50,000 per month. And it's only increasing. That figure is conservative because it only includes downtime savings. We're working on calculating savings from transportation costs right now, but it's safe to say that the center will easily pay for itself."

Spill detection is another important aspect of the operations center. By gathering data from field sensors and instrumentation, Apache has been able to detect tank leaks earlier. Work is currently being performed on an algorithm to improve spill detection capabilities. The company is also investing in refining and expanding detection methods in order to improve the environmental sustainability of operations and minimize costly cleanups.

"One thing we plan on doing in the future is to take data and use analytic tools to optimize trucking and hauling routes. We also plan on utilizing advanced predictive analytics to help identify potential issues in the field before they lead to failures," Eubanks said. "Ultimately, the purpose of these remote operations centers is to get all the data we are collecting and put into the hands of the people that need it in a simple, easy-to-drill-down format. The Elk City center is a testament to the benefits that can be achieved by doing that, but we are really only scratching the surface in terms of what kind of efficiencies we will gain moving forward."

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