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E&P company steps into the digital oil field to better project cost controls and integrate existing software programs as part of work associated with ongoing projects in two natural gas fields.
Labor intensive report compilations and data entry were typical of the extensive manual process employees came to know as a way of doing business at Noble Energy.
But with assets totaling more than US $16 billion, as of year-end 2011, with reserves of 1.2 Bboe/d, the chance of errors when trying to keep project cost controls in check increased the chance for errors. So the company set out to find some help in the digital oil field.
Various software companies aimed at improving digital operations of E&P companies tout benefits of digital solutions targeting different sectors of the industry. However, in this instance, Noble Energy sought a cost controls solution. After a competitive analysis process in mid-2011, the company selected EcoSys EPC, which entered production with Noble in 2012, given its project cost management capabilities and configuration, said Javier Sloninsky, managing director and CEO of EcoSys.
“They have moved from siloed Excel spreadsheets to an enterprise system that allows multiple users to input data into a single source. The data from multiple aspects of the projects -- such as from the request to award, to the individual purchase order, to the change orders, to the resulting invoices -- are managed by different individuals but automatically come together in reporting,” Sloninsky said, later adding it was modeled after Noble’s custom workflows. “Additionally, the software solution allows the project controls process to be standardized and enforced, as in the past it had varied across projects.”
Change management was among the areas the solution targeted for Noble. The software provides an audit trail that shows why changes occur on a project, the costs, and who authorized the change, Sloninsky said.
When asked how EcoSys EPC differs from other available digital solutions, Sloninsky spoke of the software’s flexibility and ease of use. It is also 100% web-based and scalable, which enables remote access. “Its interface is ‘Excel-like’ using spreadsheets, while delivering the enterprise level protection that is missing from Excel -- e.g. full audit trail and accountability, version control, role-based security.”
The software also is capable of tailoring industry-specific terminology to meet the company’s requirements without calling for custom programming, creating custom reports and new dashboards as well as snapshots of budgets, estimates, and project performance. “As such, the software can be used for extensive what-if analysis for planning and forecasting, while also maintaining detailed point-in-time records throughout the life of a project,” Sloninsky said.
Currently, Noble is putting the solution to use at two natural gas fields -- Tamar in Eastern Mediterranean and Alen in West Africa.
Tamar, of which Noble has a 36% working interest, is a 9 Tcf gross natural gas field offshore Israel. Tamar, proclaimed as the world’s largest deepwater natural gas discovery in 2009, is expected to come online in 2013, according to the company’s website. The Alen liquid project offshore Equatorial Guinea was sanctioned in 2010, and first production is anticipated in late 2013. The company has a 47% interest at Alen. Combined with the Aseng oil project, Alen could add more than 35,000 bbl of daily liquid production net to Noble.
For E&P companies like Noble, which undertake major projects, the solution offers “advanced multi-currency capabilities, time phasing of data, drilldown visibility from portfolio level analysis to detailed cost transactions, and handling of huge data volume that accompanies mega projects,” Sloninsky said. EcoSys EPC also integrates data with other software products in the areas of finances, scheduling, and payroll among others, avoiding manual entry.
“For the complexity typical with E&P projects, this saves weeks in report creation,” Sloninsky said. “Many of the risks of error are eliminated, and experts are freed from tedious, mundane tasks (data compiling, reformatting, etc.) to high-value activities like analysis, forecasting, and recommending changes that will improve project performance.”
Noble Energy plans to use this digital solution for other projects. EcoSys also said the software solution will be used by a large LNG export terminal operation planned for the coast of British Columbia, Canada. Additional details were not released.
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