How Deepwater Subsea is harnessing new technology for Blowout Preventers testing

Analytics in blowout preventers testing

Implementing self-service analytics not only saves time but provides greater insight

In the days following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of April 2010, in which the failure of the rig’s blowout preventers (BOP) system led to the loss of 11 lives and caused the largest accidental offshore oil spill to date, the emergency response teams were handicapped in their ability to troubleshoot due to the lack of monitoring capabilities and the last known equipment statuses available onshore.

In an effort to minimize the chances of incidents of this nature from possibly occurring again, regulatory aftermath ensued. Much of the focus of new or revised regulations were on offshore drillers, BOP systems, and designs. In 2016, U.S. regulations mandated the requirement of well real-time monitoring for all blowout preventers operating in the Gulf of Mexico. And as of April 30th, revisions to existing BOP systems, well control, and real-time monitoring regulations will go into effect.

The digital transformation of offshore drilling

The impact of these changing regulations, as well as the general desire to improve equipment reliability and reduce non-productive offshore oil rig/pressure test time, have been major catalysts for the industry’s move towards accepting new tools that enable digital transformation. Due to the remote locations of assets like blowout preventers (BOPs), options beyond manual reporting have unfortunately been limited.

Recently, however, the big push for digital transformation has resulted in new technologies aimed at improving the safety, productivity, and sustainability of all operations, both off and onshore. Luckily, some of these new technologies also provide the ability to get a better understanding of BOP conditions in real-time, making it increasingly easier for operators to decrease downtime and turn higher profit margins.

Empowering offshore oil rigs with advanced analytics

Blowout Preventers (BOPs) are responsible for maintaining an oil well’s seal on the sea floor under extreme erratic pressures and uncontrolled flow/formation kicks during drilling. They are crucial for sealing, controlling, and monitoring wells in order to prevent blowouts.

The health of each Blowout Preventer is critical to ensuring that they work as designed. As a result, BOPs are under extreme scrutiny. They are also one of the major causes of rig non-productive time (NPT). In order to reduce NPT, companies need to understand the condition of their BOPs by leveraging their abundant yet underutilized rig data. Luckily, new and emerging technologies are now enabling the actual subject matter experts to fully use the wealth of information they are sitting on to make better informed, timely decisions that can decrease costs, reduce downtime, and improve rig safety.

Deepwater Horizon Analytics

Blowout preventers- Analytics

Deepwater Subsea, LLC is the industry’s first and only independent 3rd party inspection company capable of providing 24/7 real-time monitoring and BOP compliance inspection. Their platform, Janus24, the brainchild of Mike Fry, the CEO and founder of Deepwater Subsea, is a BOP real-time monitoring system that allows for the collection, monitoring, trending of faults and alarms, reporting of subsea control system data, and regulatory compliance inspection points. It is used on rigs across the Gulf for customers such as Chevron, Pacific Drilling, and TransOcean. The backbone of Janus24 is OSIsoft’s PI System along with  TrendMiner’s self-service analytics platform.

TrendMiner, which is also an OSIsoft partner, is an advanced self-service data analytics platform designed for the subject matter expert (SME) to be able to interpret and fully leverage the data that the PI System collects. This dynamic technology duo, along with the expertise of Deepwater’s subsea specialists, has revolutionized the way BOPs are tested.

The specialists at Deepwater Subsea have been running BOPs through pressure tests for years, and previous methods would generally be time-consuming and labor-intensive. With the implementation of TrendMiner, however,  they are able to simplify this work and establish best practices related to BOP testing

“TrendMiner’s given us better visibility than what we’ve ever had before because it allows us to speed up our troubleshooting in our analytics with their predictive models”, said Deepwater Subsea CEO Michael Fry. “For us as the subject matter experts, utilizing software like TrendMiner gives us greater access to the data and a better understanding of what’s going on with it without having to be a data scientist.”

Specialists are now able to monitor, trend, and report on equipment in 10,000 ft of water from thousands of miles away. This has allowed the most important piece of data collected from BOPs, pressure readings from each valve, to be more easily collected and utilized.

Improving the efficiency of BOP pressure testing

BOP pressure testing is the core of Deepwater’s business and when developing Janus24, Mike focused heavily on the end users and stresses the importance of “putting people first.” It’s one of the reasons TrendMiner compliments their platform so well – it’s extremely user-friendly.

When conducting these important Blowout Preventers tests using TrendMiner, the SMEs at Deepwater are able to look at pressure trends over time and golden fingerprint of BOP tests. TrendMiner collects the trends, overlays them on top of each other,  and compares them with the golden fingerprint (or a good dynamic operating profile). This analysis is constantly being run by TrendMiner in the background and notifies the team if there’s a deviation in the real-time data from the golden fingerprint.  

The notifications alert SMEs to look for degradation that may start to happen in, for example, elastomers or even the equipment itself. Additionally, by analyzing these historical trends, Deepwater Subsea knows what the ideal average test time should be at each pressure level.

In one example, Deepwater observed that the lower annular regulator had some sudden changes in the reading during the running state of a BOP. If the data was visualized without changing scale, operators wouldn’t be able to see these sudden changes clearly, so they needed to create an analysis that operators could easily run and visualize the changes.

Using TrendMiner’s correlation analysis functionality, Recommender Engine, the factors causing sudden pressure changes were identified. A new rate of change of pressure was created as a tag, enabling operators to quickly see the changes in the pressure profile. A monitor was then created to alert operators if the pressure goes above the threshold value, allowing Deepwater to effectively monitor the Blowout Preventers pressure tests and avoid any unnecessary issues.

Deepwater is planning to use TrendMiner for equipment health check as well.

Using TrendMiner’s various functionalities, a change in equipment performance can be identified. This will allow Deepwater to perform predictive maintenance rather than go for time-based maintenance. Learn about our latest capabilities to enable your digital transformation in a fast lane.

Advanced data analytics for time-series data as the solution

New and evolving technologies, such as self-service industrial analytics, are now enabling rig operators to rely less on traditional manual reporting and spreadsheets and gain greater insights through advanced analytics. In the case of Deepwater Subsea, it’s a combination of Mike’s team of renowned experts and industry-leading oil and gas solution tools that, when layered together, reduce the amount of time spent on testing, unplanned maintenance, and component failures which translates into huge cost savings for their customers. Deepwater recently signed a 2-year agreement with Trendminer

By putting the wealth of data into the hands of the day-to-day operators, Deepwater can now easily analyze pressure trends, set automatic alerts and take proactive actions to reduce non-productive time and costs while ensuring the safety of those onboard the rig. This is the perfect example of harnessing the synergy between a subject matter expert and technology.

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