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Improving the planning and design of oil wells


Assistum Knowledge Tools were chosen to stimulate industry-wide collaboration to increase the value of dwindling stocks of North Sea Oil and Gas.

Major oil companies agreed to fund an initiative that used Assistum tools to share best-practice methodology to increase the value of development wells in the North Sea. Shell, Conoco, Halliburton and Amerada Hess were among the backers for this project called Well Decision Navigator (WDN). This was one of several collaborations instigated by the Government to raise the value of declining oil and gas reserves by £1 billion through sharing best practice in the industry.

A prototype had to be developed rapidly and at low cost. Higher Level Systems was approached because its Assistum knowledge management tools create an ideal framework for managing the questions which the group had defined, and had the ability to capture and store knowledge for sharing throughout the industry. The project was managed for LOGIC by Edinburgh-based decision analysis and knowledge capture specialist TMX Limited. Assistum model enhancements and VBA extensions werer subcontracted to Higher Level Systems Limited.

Steve Brady of Conoco, Co-Chairman of the Steering Group, said that his company was already benefiting from valuable insights gained even from the demonstration version.

The application - Well Decision Navigator

The decision model aims to increase the value of oil and gas development wells by ensuring that all the right questions are asked in the planning stage. As new questions are identified through evolving best-practice, then these are added to the decision model. In this way the industry expects to propagate higher quality design decisions targeted at maximising the total lifetime value of an oil well.

The application includes a framework of over 60 questions focused on well planning, and documents why various design decisions were made, not just what was decided. It also creates action reports as each project progresses. Several workshops were held, getting very positive feedback from over 40 participants who could see some early business benefits.

The model has been used by Amerada Hess in planning and designing a new development well.

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