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A tool developed to access well, pipeline, and platform data in the GoM could facilitate and improve the BOEMRE risk assessment and MODU mooring approval process.
When an operating company wants to drill a well with a moored mobile offshore drilling unit (MODU) in the Gulf of Mexico (GoM), the first step is to secure a permit. Part of that process is to evaluate the risk of damaging infrastructure in the area. While this sounds like a straightforward proposition, it can become labor intensive and time consuming because of the difficulty in obtaining accurate well, pipeline, and platform production data.
The desire to facilitate and improve this process has led InterMoor to develop a software system that can access publically available information from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) and provide a visual understanding of the infrastructure within any defined area in the GoM.
Necessity leads to invention
According to David Cobb, InterMoor vice president of business development, the company had several reasons for pursuing the creation of the product called MoorVision, a database application intended to facilitate the risk assessment process recommended in the American Petroleum Institute’s (API) “Gulf of Mexico MODU Mooring Practice for Hurricane Season.”
“We wanted to create a tool that helped streamline risk assessments for the moored rig permitting process,” Cobb explained. “We wanted to develop something that would take a collaborative approach to permitting and save time and money for BOEMRE, rig owners, and operators.”
Data gathered by the former Minerals Management Service (and now collected by BOEMRE) includes GoM well locations and production rates as well as the placement of pipelines, platforms, and other subsea structures. “We saw the benefit in developing something that queried the BOEMRE database to give a realistic view of production rates and consequence factors,” Cobb said. “The result is a tool that can quickly take a broad view of critical infrastructure to help our clients with planning and can potentially provide BOEMRE with additional information that can be used to help keep the database it maintains up to date.”
Visualizing infrastructure and production data
According to software developer Regan Miller, staff engineer at InterMoor, MoorVision allows users to quickly collect and organize publically available infrastructure information that can be imported to the Consequence Assessment workbook that was developed by the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS) for the “MODU Mooring Strength & Reliability Joint Industry Project.” MoorVision also facilitates the visualization of that data in Google Earth.
Kent Longridge, principal engineer, explained the function of the Consequence Assessment workbook. “This Microsoft Excel workbook is a tool that allows the user to estimate the consequence of a mooring failure by evaluating subsea infrastructure that is close to a MODU mooring spread and estimating the cost impact of damaging the assets and losing their production. It also contains a simplified reliability based risk model and presents risk data, the probability of failure and consequence of damage, for each asset on a graphical Whitman (Farmer) diagram.”
According to Miller, the original purpose of InterMoor’s program was to fill out the Consequence Assessment workbook automatically. “We were actually working on a project where we needed to draw out a tow route in Google Earth. We realized that you can draw lines in Google Earth and that the lines show additional information when you click on them, so that was the inspiration. It really came about through serendipity more than anything else.”
Once Miller recognized the potential of using Google Earth to visualize data, he went to work creating the code within MoorVision that would generate Google Earth infrastructure files. “The information is already available in the BOEMRE database,” he said. “It contains a wealth of information, all of which can be displayed on screen.”
Today, MoorVision generates Google Earth files that display a portion of the information available. “The Google Earth files show infrastructure within a 15-nautical-mile radius of any location,” Miller explained. “Clicking on any of the boundary circles displays the total volume of oil and gas flowing within the circle as a percentage of the reported oil and gas output in the entire Gulf of Mexico.” The minimum input required by MoorVision is the latitude and longitude at the center of the area of interest. “It just needs the location and a mooring radius,” Miller said.
Once the coordinates are entered, it takes 10-15 seconds for MoorVision to query the database and return the data. More complex queries can take 30 seconds or so, Miller explained. Data are provided in two formats, one that is ready for import into the Consequence Assessment workbook and a second file for visualizing the infrastructure and its data in Google Earth.
When the area is identified, everything that appears in Google Earth, even the circle that shows the 15-nautical-mile boundary, is “clickable,” which means for every element visible, there is a pop-up box that displays current information such as the owner, diameter, status, and throughput.
“The inner circle quantifies infrastructure within the radius of the mooring system while the larger circle quantifies the infrastructure within the 15-nautical-mile radius,” Miller explained. The pop-up boxes allow the user to see how much oil and gas is being produced from an asset or area. These numbers are calculated from reported meter readings at the wells feeding into the pipelines running through an area. “These are not just theoretical maximum production volumes,” Miller said, “but what is actually being produced based on historical data.”
Having accurate data is important to determining the true risk. “There are a lot of platforms that have been producing at 20% to 30% capacity for a very long time. There are very few that are reported as actually producing at 100% of what they’re capable of,” Miller said.
Knowledge is power
“It’s clear that if you can see all this stuff and access it visually, quickly, and easily with tools like MoorVision and Google Earth, then that’s a huge benefit toward increasing our understanding of the risk associated with mooring a rig near local infrastructure,” Longridge said.
InterMoor is planning to meet with the BOEMRE to demonstrate the software before actually rolling it out. “We are scheduled to do that in May,” Longridge said, “and I imagine that if they like it – which I hope they will – they may want to see additional information displayed.” Consequently InterMoor anticipates there will be enhancements to the current version of the software both before and after MoorVision is made available to the public on InterMoor’s website, (www.intermoor.com).