All on the same screen
We visited the 22nd floor of the Tecpetrol Corporate Building to see the brand new control center in action, coordinating operations throughout Latin America.
Pablo Nachef, Real Time Operations Center Director, looks out toward the horizon from his position on the 22nd floor of the building. He talks about technology, learning and new ways of working. “In the last five years, the Neuquén operation has grown in all directions because it’s been dealing with the challenge of Vaca Muerta. We learned a great deal, and to merge and enhance this knowledge with what we’d been doing in other operations, we centralized everything at Tecpetrol’s new corporate offices."
The idea of bringing this know-how together and starting to export it to other areas is already happening in this new location, which is effectively the first try-out for the future revamping of the company’s offices. “We moved this control center from Neuquén to oversee all of Tecpetrol's field operations throughout Latin America. It’s designed to guarantee real-time 24/7 communication with our drilling and completion teams across the continent. When we were planning this, all our engineers converged on CABA, not just those of us here today, but also our directional, drilling and completion engineers. We sat down and we drew up the drilling program for Mexico, Colombia and Argentina.”
It’s all about the teams, according to Diego Pugliese, IT Business Solution Manager: “Things don’t work out just by themselves, which means that each of us is an important link in the chain: communications, infrastructure, functional services, tools... Our mission is to give users the room they need to carry out their activities as best possible.”
Building the ultimate version of a control room such as this one was a major challenge. Pablo recalls that, “During the pandemic, Germán Piccin, RTOC Project Expert, Lucrecia Gava, RTOC Project Specialist, and I learned to program. We used Python language and started developing software. We were looking for programs in the market that could help us monitor the industrial processes that Tecpetrol applies to its wells.”
But there was no such product with these characteristics on the market. “We started using machine learning and developing Artificial Intelligence projects to predict alarms and anticipate possible deviations. This meant that we learned about how this technology works and where it’s going and we specialized in it. In the control center, we need to process some three million pieces of data per hour, coming from all the drilling equipment. How could we possibly manage all that information?” asks Pablo.
According to Lucrecia, they couldn’t have chosen a better option: “We already knew what data and indicators we needed to see and how we wanted to track our operations. We also came to the point where we realized that we needed more sophisticated tools so we could go deeper, on a daily basis, and develop new applications with all the tools that Pablo mentioned. We integrated our program with Corva, a data management software. We are constantly in touch with them as they provide us with around-the-clock support. In parallel, we’re working on the operation with the company man and the engineers.” And Diego chimes in with, "this control room is in constant evolution, our work is always evolving, and its growth accompanies the needs that arise in operations."
And now that everything is in place? That one question gets three answers: Pablo says that, "We’re working to ensure that the transition is short and the benefits we expect to see actually have an impact on the operation." Diego forecasts that, "We know the biggest challenges are yet to come and our control center has no limits." While Lucretia shares that, “I feel really proud to be part of this change, to see that despite the kilometers separating us physically, we are one united team. You really get a sense of that in the new control room, that it’s our home.”