Gazpromneft STC Designs ERA:ISKRA Software to Digitalize Oil Industry

Gazprom Neft is working on a proprietary information system named ERA:ISKRA to look for optimal integrated solutions in oilfield development. The innovative digital product was designed by a team of experts from Gazpromneft-Razvitie and Gazpromneft Science and Technology Centre. ERA:ISKRA is an integrated system for conceptual asset development that makes part of the ERA digital product family (ERA, a Russian acronym for Electronic Asset Development, is one of the domains in Gazprom Neft’s Technological Strategy).

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Neftianka Internet Project had an interview with Roman Panov, Head of Technological Development Programs at Gazpromneft-Razvitie, who told us about this innovative solution.


— If I understand correctly, ERA:ISKRA is an element of the “smart field” concept, right?

— “Smart field” is a system for automated production management, while EAR:ISKRA is a tool that helps our company staff maximize the efficiency of reservoir development throughout the field’s lifecycle. With this system, human operators still have the power to make decisions and control the processes.

Therefore, we can say that ERA:ISKRA is part of the concept of a future smart field specifically intended for conceptual design and engineering purposes.

— What led you to design a digital system like this?

— Back in 2014, we realized we needed a tool to help us with field development challenges that would consolidate the operational algorithms and streamline the transfer of data between task modules.

The situation on the oil market changes fast, and so do the approaches to oilfield development. As early as at the field design stage, we need to consider an asset’s uncertainties and constraints, as well as all the possible scenarios, approaches and methods of its development. The standards for the speed of decision-making and the quality of engineering solutions are growing higher. All of this may be secured only with the help of cutting-edge computing and analytical IT systems, such as the ERA:ISKRA system.

— The company’s official press release says that ERA:ISKRA is already in service at the cluster of fields in Nadym-Pur-Tazovsky area of Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District. How does this product actually work and what kind of challenges does it deal with?

— Oil fields in Nadym-Pur-Tazovsky area of Yamal-Nenets AD is a new cluster of fields where a number of high-end technologies are used, to include ERA:ISKRA. In fact, this is only one of the projects where we chose to employ this integrated tool. Today, all of the company’s major deposits are evaluated using the ERA:ISKRA system.

The software was developed in 2015-2016, and its real-life application began in 2017. For example, we used it to develop a regional strategy for exporting the products of the Urengoy field cluster. The analytical data provided by the software was used in formulating integrated solutions for product export from Tazovskoye, Severo-Samburskoye, Messoyakhskoye, Pestsovoye and En-Yakhinskoye oil fields.

ERA:ISKRA can automatically build a field’s model and provide a comprehensive technical and economic valuation. The information system creates a digital plan of the oil field that includes the formation, well, surface infrastructure, as well as relevant financial and economic settings. The algorithms built into the system allow processing and interpreting all of this data and help find the most effective field development scenarios.

Speaking of Nadym-Pur-Tazovsky area, the analysis of solutions for this asset provided by the system reflected all the relevant baseline data and constraints, to include high uncertainty with regard to the production levels. Besides, there are several deposits in this area, and we had to decide how to build the product export system. At the end of the day, a multiple-path analysis performed by the system helped the company find the most effective and stable scenario and prove why this specific path had to be taken. Even if production portfolios change, this scenario will remain the most stable and effective one.

— What are the benefits of this software?

— By integrating the system into the Company’s processes, we secure maximum future effects from oil field development as early as at the field’s conceptual design stage. Furthermore, the system helps increase the speed and efficiency of conceptual engineering.

Prior to this software, such engineering solutions in the oil industry were chiefly experience-based. The concepts were drafted by hand, and only a limited number of scenarios were reviewed. As a rule, only three to five most probable scenarios were considered and later analyzed in economic terms. The next step was to make the decision found to be the most effective based on engineer’s experience. With this system, we can increase the number of scenarios, consider the least obvious ones and make a more objective decision regarding the path forward. Besides, now our employees do not need to waste their time on routine calculations; instead, they can go straight to analyzing the scenarios of implementing the integrated projects.

— How will the use of ERA:ISKRA affect the company’s revenue?

— The company’s revenue depends on much more than just the use of a new product. Still, this system will certainly contribute to our competitive edge.

— How many people work with the system?

— Even one person can develop a conceptual design using this system, but it is a modular system that integrates different disciplines. A specialist in a corresponding discipline can work in each individual model. Today, the system has over 150 authorized users in the company.

Speaking of the team who designed the software, it includes highly qualified engineers in all sorts of disciplines, including geology, drilling, production and infrastructure, as well as power engineers, cost engineers, economists, business analysts and programmers. This software product was designed from scratch and deployed within the digital perimeter of Gazprom Neft. Users may access the system via the web interface.

— How do you think introduction of digital technologies will change the oil and gas industry?

— The resource base structure is changing, and the focus shifts more to the fields with difficult oil. This requires a higher rate of acquiring data about the field and making relevant decisions. It also increases the volume of information and the number of data streams. The number of things to be considered for the most effective decision is growing. All of these challenges can now be handled by digital solutions that can be utilized to the best of their capacity in the areas where “digital” competences have a key role. This way, the industry will become more dynamic, detail-demanding and relying on effective technologies.

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