A future on remote is approaching

Tecpetrol has been testing out the latest solutions for remote fracture set management from its Real Time Operation Center in Buenos Aires. One of its company’s experts shows us the technology involved.

A glimpse of what the future holds. At Tecpetrol’s Real Time Operation Center (RTOC) located at its offices in Buenos Aires, Tecpetrol is trialing remote management and parameter modifications on fracture equipment belonging to SLB on the other side of the country in Cerro Las Niñas, at the Los Toldos I Norte field in Vaca Muerta. As always, Tecpetrol’s culture is an example of innovation and technological progress in its purest state.

On the map. Neuquén and Buenos Aires, more united than ever.-

However, this is just the beginning. At the moment, all eyes are on these innovative tests, pioneering new technologies for unconventional wells. Lucrecia Gava, RTOC Project Specialist is no stranger to the pace of innovation set by the company, as she and her team have been developing the RTOC for the last three years: it started out with the remit to centralize drilling and completion operations and today, it’s looking at a completely new phase in remote operation.

“We’re envisaging a future where all operational actions can be managed remotely, in both Completion and Drilling. We carried out this test as part of the hydraulic fracturing process in Vaca Muerta. In conceptual terms, we assembled the van at head office and managed the fracture set equipment from there. This was essentially a feasibility test where we measured the timing for all processes, so that a simple click at the main offices materializes in a parameter change at the operation itself,” says Lucrecia.

Parameters and responses under control.-

What kind of processes are involved? Densitometer calibration, sand stage changes, and modifying pump flow, for instance. “We’re controlling every facet of the operation. The tests went very well as both the responses and parameters were satisfactory. We were able to successfully carry out tests to change concentration as well as flow, and remotely manage the fracturing equipment. SLB has the technology to duplicate the screens of the fracture van and we’re running these tests as a team with them.”

These were the first steps on a new path, one that promises to be a long and complex one despite all the planning involved. There’s no doubt that ensuring the room operates as the nerve center for operations requires high levels of teamwork, coordination and many measures to ensure that operations are not affected nor safety put at risk while all the trials required are carried out.

Using technology at the RTOC.-

“Beyond the tests themselves, which were excellent, we’re delighted with the reaction time. This shows us that the possibility of being able to control and send signals remotely to drilling rigs and fracturing sets is highly feasible in the future. Our objective is to continue to improve the quality of our operations and make them as safe as possible, even though there are still many tasks that have to be done onsite, in the field. This was the first step: in January, our center went from monitoring to having direct responsibility for operations. The next step will be to be able to make any changes required from Buenos Aires.”

Real-time communication with Vaca Muerta.-

A future where operations are not only optimized, but also monitored continuously to enable action to be taken from a distance seems closer than ever. “The migration towards a completely remote operating scheme for unconventional stimulation, together with the relocation of stimulation engineers, heralds a paradigm shift in terms of decision-making,” concludes Lucrecia, looking to the future.

Tasks underway in parallel in the control room.-

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