Sunday, June 4, 2023

that’s how technology works

All operations performed daily by YPF in more than a thousand wells for the production of gas and oil in Vac Muerta are directed and monitored from a remote control center that applies digitalization and artificial intelligence resources for greater efficiency and competitiveness. does.

It is a technology center considered the “brain” of the company for its non-traditional operations, which came into operation in 2019 in a renovated building located in the city of Neuquén, 100 km from the areas where the company operates.

Dozens of screens and instruments that dominate all floors reflect thousands of data per second that are generated by operations at Vaca Muerta and weighted to generate alerts according to the urgency given.

The center, which required an investment of US$3.5 million and is at the same level of complexity as the presence of large global operators such as Chevron, ExxonMobil, Total or Petronas, allows the control of more than 40,000 variables in real time. By an interdisciplinary team made up of 50 people.

From there, all phases of construction, commissioning and operation of a gas or oil well are directed, as well as the post-treatment phase through a network of facilities and pipelines until its delivery to the gas transportation system. Is. Refineries.

Jonathan Contreras, head of YPF’s control room, explained that the tower is “a service center considered unique in Latin America, in which operation and control functions for more than 1,000 wells at the oil company’s 30 facilities are carried out 24 hours a day”. operating in unorthodox Neuquen territory”.

“On the first floor – he explained – everything related to the geosteering and construction of wells in all its phases is located”, including drilling, stimulation and completion, a task considered important for the company in the challenge of achieving efficiency and productivity. .

From there, the operator can guide the drilling equipment located in the field, in real time, to follow the best path that allows progress in branching bedrock of up to about 5,000 meters in horizontal length, and its continuation in the strip of land. detects. higher productivity.

On the second floor of the building, the center has a room for monitoring and controlling all well variables present in the YPF unconventional well, allowing monitoring—he explained—”all the problems that may exist in the field”.

It is possible to work on wells and facilities to control any abnormalities arising from this room.

Following a territorial arrangement, the operations in Vaca Muerta are distributed over the “East Sector” which coincides with the Shale oil window, which currently produces 5.1 million cubic meters of gas and 27,000 cubic meters of crude oil daily. are controlled simultaneously through information. Received by monitoring center on 21,000 variables.

The other area, called the “West Area”, focuses on shale gas production concessions, with a daily production of 14.5 million cubic meters (MMm3) of gas and 500m3 of crude oil, which are too close to be controlled by remote operations. Creates 12,000 variables. Center.

Thus, a remote operator can increase the pressure of a well or, conversely, stop its production, as well as adjust the mode of operation of any oil or gas pipeline in the network and its treatment plants.

The operation of the own power generation units with which the various areas of Vaca Muerta are supplied is also supervised.

Including monitoring treatment plants at the Loma Campana, Banduría Sur and La Amarga Chica deposits.

The building has an energy backup of its own four electric generators and a so-called “technical deposit” which is responsible for providing, maintaining and updating all computer, digitization and artificial intelligence equipment.

A total of 50 people at the center work in 12-hour shifts and operate under a 7×7 or 4×4 scheme depending on the tasks, comprising geologists, engineers and technicians from multiple disciplines in a comprehensive understanding of unconventional do converge. oil handling.

However, in addition to technical knowledge, a team of “Operational Managers” was formed, made up of technicians with more than 15 years of experience in areas they wanted to use their ‘expertise’ to improve decision making in unforeseen situations. Let’s contribute. may arise.

Monitored alarms refer not only to events that are potentially dangerous to the safety of facilities or personnel, but usually include early alerts that allow any production problems to be anticipated to ensure that good Thus the highest desired productivity is achieved.

The center’s top floor houses a simulation room, with a focus on the technical development of training and operations.

There the equipment allows simulating various situations in the context of drilling and production for the training of operators, who can acquire basic knowledge and experience interacting with the equipment and their partners before going into the field.

The unit is also a “technological observatory” where YPF, through its technical partners, can follow the development of resources used in other unconventional operations, especially in the United States, for their application in Vaca Muerta.

Times of National
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