Saudi Aramco showed off its first digital geosteering command center recently as Abd Allah S. Al-Saif, senior vice president of Exploration and Producing (E&P), and his E&P management team formally inaugurated the Geosteering Operations Center in the Exploration and Petroleum Engineering Center (EXPEC) building
Geosteering is the science of guiding and navigating the directional driller by using all available geological, geophysical, petro-physical, and engineering information. Geosteering is performed remotely from the Geosteering Operations Center (GOC) in the EXPEC building, where one geosteerer can guide multiple wells simultaneously. The result is highlyl efficient drilling and use of resources
The inauguration kicked off with "Geosteering and Beyond," a presentation by Northern Ghawar team leader Suhail Al-Humoud, of the Reservoir Characterization Department. That was followed by a presentation introducing the "Geosteering Operations Center Infrastructure and Implementation" by GOC implementation team leader Roger Sung, of the EXPEC Computer Center.
"The Geosteering Operations Center is equipped with the state-of-the-art computer, visualization and real-time satellite transmission technologies," Sung said. "It is designed for geoscientists, engineers, EXPEC Computer Center specialists and service companies' personnel to analyze, interpret, predict and guide the drilling bit," he said.
Misfir A. AzZahrani, manager of the Reservoir Characterization Department, introduced the GOC functions. "The dramatically increased number of drilling rigs coupled with the complexity of the reservoirs presented tremendous challenges to all of us," he said. "We must be prepared to make real-time geosteering decisions at any time, because drilling a well is a continuous operation."
AzZahrani walked the group through the workflow, explaining the life cycle of a well and demonstrating examples of geosteering sessions in offshore, onshore and oil and gas fields. Information is transmitted almost instantaneously from the drill-bit to the Geosteering Center in Dhahran, where geologists from the Reservoir Characterization Department, reservoir engineers from the Reservoir Management Department, formation evaluation engineers from the Reservoir Description Department, drilling engineers from Drilling and Workover and directional drillers from service companies work together to ensure the best decision is transmitted back to the drill-bit with minimum response time
"It's like virtually being on all Saudi Aramco's drilling rigs to observe the gauges right here in the Geosteering Operations Center," said AzZahrani.
"The Geosteering Operations Center's design and implementation is the largest in the industry in terms of its capacity to monitor and geosteer several wells at the same time," said Saad S. Al-Akeel, Exploration Application Services Department manager.
Abdulla A. Al-Naim, executive director of the Exploration organization, added, "During 2004, geosteering exposed 850,000 feet of the reservoir, while in 2005, we forecast geosteering across more than 1,500,000 feet in the reservoir. At the same time, we are gearing up to geosteer through more than double this footage of reservoirs in anticipation of the growing global energy demands."