By Software Magazine Staff
Each year, the demand for oil increases, and the supply becomes harder to find, produce, and refine. The rising price of oil, driven largely by this divergence between supply and demand, is an important economic factor for many industries that rely on transportation or petroleum products. Consequently, oil companies constantly develop and apply new and innovative technologies to optimize and reduce the cost of producing oil and gas.
The cascade of scientific, engineering, and business roles that move oil from the ground to market is ripe with opportunities for improving performance through better data analysis and business intelligence (BI). Chevron Corp., a major oil company and innovator in the energy industry, has capitalized on many of these opportunities by applying high-dimensional data mining techniques and visual analytics across the value chain.
Chevron employs the TIBCO Spotfire analytics platform as a catalyst for innovating processes. Here we assess how the latest in on-demand software analytics enables the energy provider to operate efficiently.
Chevron is an integrated, worldwide energy company with roots dating back to 1879. Established in Pico Canyon, CA, as the Pacific Coast Oil Co., it later transitioned to Standard Oil Co. before taking its current name after acquiring Gulf Oil Corp. in 1984—one of the largest mergers in U.S. history.
Another well-known branch of the company is the Texas Fuel Co., formed in Beaumont, TX, in 1901, later becoming the Texas Co. and finally, Texaco. Chevron and Texaco merged in 2001. The acquisition of Unocal Corp. in 2005 solidified the company’s position as an energy leader.
Chevron began using TIBCO Spotfire eight years ago in scientific applications like geochemistry. The energy provider realized its potential across many business areas and today, the solution enables the company to improve the speed, quality, and collaboration on data-intensive and complex analytical workflows.
Spotfire is applied in diverse applications, including exploration, drilling, reservoir management, production engineering, analog identification, and business forecasting. With TIBCO Spotfire Professional, non-IT roles have the ability to author analyses and share them as Web applications, allowing scientists, engineers, and business users to perform their own ad hoc analytics.
Scientific & Engineering Applications
The Spotfire analytics platform enables self-service analytics. However, particularly sophisticated analyses may require a data foundation to stage and integrate sources, custom domain-specific visualizations, data mining, or interaction design.
Troy Ruths, data scientist for Ruths Analytics and Innovation, is a subject matter expert tasked with designing and implementing these sophisticated Spotfire analyses for a growing set of applications at Chevron. Ruths works directly with technical end users and IT departments to plan and deploy Spotfire analytical tools along the entire value chain.
For example, Ruths and John Pederson, production manager for a Chevron asset, developed a reservoir management application to analyze and monitor oil fields. The software’s goal is to integrate and expose relevant, oil field-related data sources to improve the efficiency and quality of decision-making, communication, and data mining in a friendly, visual analytics environment.
By leveraging the Spotfire software, the application provides a solution that is general yet able to handle the unique challenges that arise on an asset-by-asset basis. By integrating heterogeneous data, the application fosters an environment for further innovation through data mining. It is stable, tested, and deployed to global Chevron assets.
With data and analyses staged inside Spotfire, scientists and engineers use the tool as a BI dashboard or extend analyses without requiring a development cycle.
“Decisions are made daily during the regular operations of an oil field regardless of the accessibility of data and analyses,” says Pederson. “By reducing the time it takes to view relevant data and perform analyses, we both expedite and improve the quality of our decision making.”
Operating an oil production field requires diverse activities and multiple teams working in concert. Consequently, important decisions draw on several functional roles and vendor applications. The Spotfire analytics platform provides the necessary capabilities to drive cross-functional insights by displaying more than 10 dimensions at once, including completions, equipment, interventions, production, injection, well tests, rock properties, pressure, location, forecasts, downtime, and safety. These data come from a variety of vendor applications, including OFM, Energy Components (EC), WellView, OSIsoft PI, and custom Microsoft Excel applications.
The identification of analogs is an important analysis in the oil and gas industry. Finding similar “plays” is central to business planning, asset development, portfolio growth, and reservoir prediction. Ruths developed analog identification and analysis tools inside Spotfire for a variety of applications, including hydrocarbon prediction and rock sample analogs.
Spotfire lets the user interactively comb through and drill down into millions of records in real time. Further, tools like the hydrocarbon prediction tool are shared on the Web using the TIBCO Spotfire Web Player server. A Web application that may have taken several months to develop can now be created with minimal cost in less than a month.
BI in Action
Chevron also utilizes the Spotfire analytics software as part of its business processes. As a global corporation, Chevron manages and owns more prospects and projects that can be funded at any given time. Portfolio optimization identifies projects that should be funded based on different constraints and maximization scenarios. The thousands of optimal portfolio realizations are brought into Spotfire so planners can drill down and identify the best portfolio candidates.
With Spotfire, the business plan analysis process is reduced to as little as an hour with the software’s ability to combine data from different sources. This enables asset teams to access detailed data without the need for combing through flat data files or stale presentations. Users can then immediately understand why projected targets are not met, so corrective actions can be taken in real time. The software’s self-service discovery capabilities allow users to explore data on their own to make data-driven decisions.
Additionally, the company utilizes the BI technology to complete a look-back analysis on drilled wells, which compares what was expected to be produced with actual production volume. Prior to Spotfire, the asset team relied on Excel databases, which required a separate curve plotted for each well. Now, the production of all wells is visualized on the same plot, making it easy to compare actual versus projected results and drill down into the high-variance wells.
BI is essential to the productivity of Chevron. The Spotfire analytic platform is utilized enterprise-wide due to its ability to access and visualize the multitude of databases and data types inherent in the oil and gas industry. SW