The energy industry is vast, ranging from oil rigs on the North Slope of Alaska to wind farms in the landlocked Midwest. It also presents a diverse range of technologies, from oil wells located more than 10,000 feet below the sea floor to magnetic “crawlers” that scan miles of offshore pipelines looking for abnormalities. The common factors that connect all of this technology are data and the people who rely on it.

“Big data” analysis is now a required core competency for the industry. It is essential for predicting weather patterns at production sites and interpreting geographic, geologic, and seismic data that show where it is safe to drill. It is the key to operating a nationwide fleet of wind turbines in varying weather conditions.

Many energy companies like BP have invested in intricate “pipelines” of data to continuously monitor oil and gas production sites, ensuring safer operations. Innovative monitoring technologies and sensors generate, capture, and deliver real-time information from BP’s production sites, pipelines, and refineries. The data then move swiftly to advanced on- and off-site centers where visualizations are rendered and used by specialized teams to monitor performance, predict trends, and take action.

BP deepwater wells can be outfitted with sensors generating time-stamped data about critical well operations and the tools performing them. They also provide atmospheric measures like temperature and motion, which affect how drilling equipment functions. Back onshore, monitoring teams at BP’s Cherry Point and Whiting refineries are pioneering the use of phased array ultrasonic tests (PAUT) to inspect systems and monitor the safety and soundness of pressure vessels, tanks, and piping.

These technologies are part of BP’s effort to foster a safety-first culture where people are empowered to make confident and timely decisions, even if that means stopping a job.

Across the energy industry, BP is innovating forward-thinking, safety-first worksites. ↓

Offshore

Nearly three decades after BP began exploring the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, the company remains one of the region’s leading oil and gas producers, with lease blocks covering an area about the size of Delaware. In fact, BP has been the largest energy investor in the deepwater gulf over the past decade.

Between 2014 and 2017, its average daily production in the region increased from 252,000 barrels of oil equivalent to more than 300,000. This reflects BP’s continued investment at its four massive Gulf of Mexico production platforms: Atlantis, Na Kika, Thunder Horse and Mad Dog. Elsewhere in the gulf, the company holds interests in four hubs that other companies operate: Mars, Olympus, Ursa and Great White.

BP Well Advisor uses sensors placed within all BP offshore well sites to improve drill operations and stability. The system integrates data from wells with predictive tools, processes and expertise to help operators improve decision-making in real time. Its intuitive consoles enable rig crews and office-based engineers to monitor operations. The program is supported by monitoring in Houston at BP’s Global Monitoring Center.

Similarly, BP has tested the use of magnetic “crawler” robots to inspect the pipelines that connect its deepwater gulf wells with production platforms. The robots take continuous laser measurements of the pipelines, measuring for thickness, corrosion, and damage to the protective layering.

Offshore

“The Gulf of Mexico is central to BP’s upstream portfolio, and we’ve proven that deepwater projects can be economical even in a low oil price environment. By executing projects through existing infrastructure at our major hubs, we are leveraging our portfolio of high-value, longer-life assets and strategic partnerships across deepwater to provide BP with operational momentum for years to come.”

RICHARD MORRISON, REGIONAL PRESIDENT OF BP GULF OF MEXICO

Wind

BP has 14 onshore wind farms located everywhere from the Hawaiian island of Maui to the green hills of northeast Pennsylvania. The wind farms have a gross generating capacity of 2,259 megawatts, which is enough electricity to power all the homes in a city the size of Philadelphia.

Using advanced technology, teams centrally monitor all BP wind sites at the ROC (Remote Operations Center) — 24

hours a day, seven days a week — while working with colleagues in the field to enhance performance, reliability, and safety.

ROC monitoring systems capture turbine availability, power generation capacity, wind speed, weather, and other critical factors. An embedded alarm system immediately notifies operators of potential problems, such as approaching storms or flash flood warnings.

“We are always focused on safety and sustainability in everything we do at our wind farms. Our staffers at the ROC provide an extra set of eyes and help our people in the field work safely and responsibly. Additionally, we continue to optimize our business by seeking out technological advancements and finding ways to deliver power more efficiently.”

LAURA FOLSE, BP WIND ENERGY CEO

Pipeline

Every day, BP’s U.S. Pipelines and Logistics business (USPL) manages more than 3,200 miles of pipelines carrying 1.1 million barrels of crude oil, natural gas liquids and refined products. Meanwhile, USPL has an ownership stake in close to 1,500 miles of additional pipelines.

BP also uses pipelines to connect the Prudhoe Bay oilfields in Alaska. On Alaska’s North Slope where temperatures are well below freezing and conditions can be dangerous, the company uses FLIR cameras, a new thermal imaging technology, to inspect difficult-to-reach pipelines and detect leaks before humans can see them.

The FLIR cameras are mounted to trucks, paired with digital video and equipped with telephoto lenses, allowing field surveillance to be performed from a safe distance and detection of a gas plume to happen without needing to enter the plume with a vehicle.

This technology has reduced potential personnel exposure to freezing conditions.

Refineries

BP currently operates large, modern refineries in Cherry Point, Washington; Whiting, Indiana; and Toledo, Ohio. These installations, with total capacity for processing up to 746,000 barrels of crude oil every day, produce a wide range of fuels, petrochemicals, and lubricants to serve America's highway, air, and rail transportation needs, for home, commercial, and institutional heating, and for power generation and use by industry.

In its refineries, BP has developed and deployed advanced technologies to help prevent corrosion in processing units. For example, it uses phased array ultrasonic testing (PAUT) to conduct non-intrusive inspections.

Deployed extensively at BP’s Cherry Point Refinery, and also at its Whiting Refinery during a recent modernization project, PAUT technology emits ultrasonic pulses to monitor the safety and soundness of pressure vessels, tanks, and piping. This technique minimizes the amount of time a facility is out of operation, reduces turnaround costs and risks and helps prevent production losses.

Refineries

“Being able to monitor changes in real time – even down to small changes in pipe wall thickness – allows us to make well-informed decisions to maximize value, and is key to running a safe, reliable, and efficient refining business.”

BRUCE COOK, TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT MANAGER – REFINING AND LOGISTICS TECHNOLOGY

Onshore

With operations that stretch from the Rocky Mountains to east Texas, BP’s Lower 48 onshore business is one of America’s largest natural gas producers. Over the past two years, it has grown to include a major presence in the Haynesville and Bossier shale plays near the Texas–Louisiana border. In 2016, it produced an average of 302,000 barrels of oil equivalent each day.

In 2015, the company made history by completing its first-ever “multilateral” wells in the San Juan Basin of New Mexico. Multilateral wells feature multiple horizontal wells connected to a single drilling hole, or “wellbore,” allowing producers to access more of the oil and gas in a given reservoir while reducing the number of drilling sites.

Across the energy industry, BP is innovating forward-thinking, safety-first worksites. ↓

Nearly three decades after BP began exploring the deepwater Gulf of Mexico, the company remains one of the region’s leading oil and gas producers, with lease blocks covering an area about the size of Delaware. In fact, BP has been the largest energy investor in the deepwater gulf over the past decade.

Between 2014 and 2017, its average daily production in the region increased from 252,000 barrels of oil equivalent to more than 300,000. This reflects BP’s continued investment at its four massive Gulf of Mexico production platforms: Atlantis, Na Kika, Thunder Horse and Mad Dog. Elsewhere in the gulf, the company holds interests in four hubs that other companies operate: Mars, Olympus, Ursa and Great White.

BP Well Advisor uses sensors placed within all BP offshore well sites to improve drill operations and stability. The system integrates data from wells with predictive tools, processes and expertise to help operators improve decision-making in real time. Its intuitive consoles enable rig crews and office-based engineers to monitor operations. The program is supported by monitoring in Houston at BP’s Global Monitoring Center.

Similarly, BP has tested the use of magnetic “crawler” robots to inspect the pipelines that connect its deepwater gulf wells with production platforms. The robots take continuous laser measurements of the pipelines, measuring for thickness, corrosion, and damage to the protective layering.

“The Gulf of Mexico is central to BP’s upstream portfolio, and we’ve proven that deepwater projects can be economical even in a low oil price environment. By executing projects through existing infrastructure at our major hubs, we are leveraging our portfolio of high-value, longer-life assets and strategic partnerships across deepwater to provide BP with operational momentum for years to come.”

RICHARD MORRISON, REGIONAL PRESIDENT OF BP GULF OF MEXICO

BP has 14 onshore wind farms located everywhere from the Hawaiian island of Maui to the green hills of northeast Pennsylvania. The wind farms have a gross generating capacity of 2,259 megawatts, which is enough electricity to power all the homes in a city the size of Philadelphia.

Using advanced technology, teams centrally monitor all BP wind sites at the ROC (Remote Operations Center) — 24 hours a day, seven days a week — while working with colleagues in the field to enhance performance, reliability, and safety.

ROC monitoring systems capture turbine availability, power generation capacity, wind speed, weather, and other critical factors. An embedded alarm system immediately notifies operators of potential problems, such as approaching storms or flash flood warnings.

“We are always focused on safety and sustainability in everything we do at our wind farms. Our staffers at the ROC provide an extra set of eyes and help our people in the field work safely and responsibly. Additionally, we continue to optimize our business by seeking out technological advancements and finding ways to deliver power more efficiently.”

LAURA FOLSE, BP WIND ENERGY CEO

Every day, BP’s U.S. Pipelines and Logistics business (USPL) manages more than 3,200 miles of pipelines carrying 1.1 million barrels of crude oil, natural gas liquids and refined products. Meanwhile, USPL has an ownership stake in close to 1,500 miles of additional pipelines.

BP also uses pipelines to connect the Prudhoe Bay oilfields in Alaska. On Alaska’s North Slope where temperatures are well below freezing and conditions can be dangerous, the company uses FLIR cameras, a new thermal imaging technology, to inspect difficult-to-reach pipelines and detect leaks before humans can see them.

The FLIR cameras are mounted to trucks, paired with digital video, and equipped with telephoto lenses, allowing field surveillance to be performed from a safe distance and detection of a gas plume to happen without needing to enter the plume with a vehicle.

This technology has reduced potential personnel exposure to freezing conditions.

BP currently operates large, modern refineries in Cherry Point, Washington; Whiting, Indiana; and Toledo, Ohio. These installations, with total capacity for processing up to 746,000 barrels of crude oil every day, produce a wide range of fuels, petrochemicals and lubricants to serve America's highway, air and rail transportation needs, for home, commercial and institutional heating, and for power generation and use by industry.

In its refineries, BP has developed and deployed advanced technologies to help prevent corrosion in processing units. For example, it uses phased array ultrasonic testing (PAUT) to conduct non-intrusive inspections.

Deployed extensively at BP’s Cherry Point Refinery, and also at its Whiting Refinery during a recent modernization project, PAUT technology emits ultrasonic pulses to monitor the safety and soundness of pressure vessels, tanks, and piping. This technique minimizes the amount of time a facility is out of operation, reduces turnaround costs and risks and helps prevent production losses.

“Being able to monitor changes in real time – even down to small changes in pipe wall thickness – allows us to make well-informed decisions to maximize value, and is key to running a safe, reliable, and efficient refining business.”

BRUCE COOK, TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT MANAGER – REFINING AND LOGISTICS TECHNOLOGY

With operations that stretch from the Rocky Mountains to east Texas, BP’s Lower 48 onshore business is one of America’s largest natural gas producers. Over the past two years, it has grown to include a major presence in the Haynesville and Bossier shale plays near the Texas–Louisiana border. In 2016, it produced an average of 302,000 barrels of oil equivalent each day.

In 2015, the company made history by completing its first-ever “multilateral” wells in the San Juan Basin of New Mexico. Multilateral wells feature multiple horizontal wells connected to a single drilling hole, or “wellbore,” allowing producers to access more of the oil and gas in a given reservoir while reducing the number of drilling sites.

TRACKING CHANGE IN REMOTE PLACES

Data and technology are especially important as offshore oil platforms and drill sites move farther into remote, challenging locations. Harsh environments, like the North Slope of Alaska or thousands of feet under water in the Gulf of Mexico, require rugged, industrial monitoring systems that can withstand extreme conditions both above- and underground.

Offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, data from five active drill sites – including live camera feeds – is transmitted to BP’s Global Monitoring Center, the 24/7 facility for Gulf of Mexico operations, while simultaneously being reviewed by onsite rig teams. The information is translated into standardized visualization screens, which dozens of skilled operators are trained to review for anomalies. With one glance, operators can view metrics for drilling, cementing, pressure, and local atmospheric conditions. The Houston and offshore teams are in direct communication, using systems and protocols developed in collaboration with former NASA officials who are experienced in continual remote monitoring.

“Drilling wells at these kinds of depths, there is a complexity in the operations and they have to be able to watch that all the time to provide feedback to the folks working offshore on an as-needed basis. They communicate between offshore and onshore all the time. If they see something wrong, they will take a moment to talk about it.”

BOB FRYAR, BP’S SAFETY & OPERATIONAL RISK EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT

BP’s offshore operations are connected with its onshore monitoring teams by 1216 km of fiber optic cables, with 20 branching units and 25 repeaters that reach a depth of almost 2,000 meters. The system is called the GoM Fiber Optic network. Over the past five years of continual operation, these feeds have ensured consistency between what offshore rig personnel and the Global Monitoring Center see.

“Drilling wells at these kinds of depths, there is a complexity in the operations and they have to be able to watch that all the time to provide feedback to the folks working offshore on an as-needed basis. They communicate between offshore and onshore all the time. If they see something wrong, they will take a moment to talk about it,” said Bob Fryar, BP’s Safety & Operational Risk Executive Vice President.

Operation and Control Centers

Global Monitoring Center

Opened in 2011, the Global Monitoring Center provides around-the-clock support for BP’s well operations in the Gulf of Mexico. A collaborative real-time environment is devoted entirely to preventing safety incidents. Specialists in the facility are in constant communication with offshore rig and platform teams to monitor and analyze real-time data, focusing on pumps, pits, flow rates and pressures. Onshore teams evaluate and verify that the data they’re monitoring is consistent with agreed execution plans. These specialists have extensive offshore experience, and they send safety issues up the chain of command as needed.

The direct involvement of onshore staff in offshore drilling activity is a prime example of the additional layers of checks and balances that BP continues to implement throughout its business.

The Remote Operations Center (ROC)

Every kind of weather condition, from heat, to snow, to hail, to tornadoes, can have an impact on a wind farm. These conditions, among many other points of data, are watched at BP Wind Energy’s Remote Operations Center (ROC) in Houston.

Staffers at the ROC provide support and monitoring to the company’s 13 operated wind farms across seven states in the United States. An embedded alarm system immediately notifies operators of potential problems, such as approaching storms or flash flood warnings.

The dominating feature of the ROC is a wall-sized display showing in precise detail how each wind facility is operating. The screens depict wind speed, electrical production, turbine availability, market pricing, power generation capacity, and numerous other data points that give the operators a real-time picture of each wind farm. Another large screen presents the weather across the continental U.S.

“This comprehensive view and the ability to control individual turbines allow us at the ROC to play a significant role in managing our wind operations…it also helps keep staff in the field safe in their often geographically remote locations by providing them real-time weather information.”

RYAN BLAINE, LEAD OPERATOR, BP WIND ENERGY

Center for High Performance Super Computing

BP’s state-of-the-art Center for High-Performance Computing (CHPC) in Houston is one of the world's largest supercomputers for commercial research.

A key tool in supporting the company’s core oil and natural gas business, the center serves as a worldwide hub for processing and managing geophysical data from across the global portfolio. Increased computing power, speed, and storage reduces the time needed to analyze large amounts of seismic data and enables more detailed in-house modeling of deeply buried rock formations before drilling begins. The CHPC also allows for safer and more efficient management of complex reservoirs during production, and it opens up new possibilities for research into other important aspects of BP’s business activities.

“Our product is geological understanding, the ability to make smart decisions about where we’re going to explore and how we’re going to develop our finds.”

KEITH GRAY, DIRECTOR OF TECHNICAL COMPUTING

Weather Monitoring

Whether they’re monitoring a storm in the Atlantic Ocean or tracking sub-zero temperatures in Alaska, BP’s team of meteorologists keep a watchful eye on weather conditions that could have an impact on the business’s safety and operations.

Each day, BP’s meteorologists prepare specialized forecasts that help inform important business decisions. Chief meteorologist Dr. Ed Bracken is based in Houston, Texas, and leads the team monitoring conditions worldwide.

“Because BP has operations all around the world, we can’t just find a forecast on the internet. We need to know the exact timing on when wind may change, when precipitation may start, when weather may become severe.”

ED BRACKEN, CHIEF METEOROLOGIST FOR BP

FORECASTING CHANGE

All sorts of weather events can bring conditions that might impact the safety of BP operations, including sub-zero temperatures in Alaska, violent tornadoes across wind country in the Midwest, and the most dangerous: tropical hurricanes. The prospect of something like a total rig evacuation requires more than weather forecasts. BP's in-house team of meteorologists, led by chief meteorologist Dr. Ed Bracken, work around the clock preparing specialized forecasts that constantly inform business operations.

During hurricane season, for example, weather patterns and forecast models are closely followed and analyzed to get ahead of any potential threat to safety on offshore rigs. Bracken commands decisions from Houston, and keeps an eye on every post where BP has operations in the U.S. “Twice a week, we’re briefing the Gulf of Mexico Severe Weather Assessment Team to give them an update on what’s happening so they can plan for possible evacuations,” says Bracken. “If there is an actual threat, we start meeting daily to discuss the forecast and all the risks around it.”

They can’t wait until a hurricane is looming on the horizon, as that would be too late. When a hurricane or tropical storm is in the forecast, Bracken and his team stay in constant contact with a wide range of offshore facilities – from large-scale excavation platforms that function like small ocean cities to state-of-the-art drilling rigs. The location and size of the offshore installation determines how quickly boats or helicopters can reach it. Sometimes an evacuation can last two to three days, since it can take that long to shut down well operations. Once storms subside, Bracken’s team continues to track conditions to determine when it is safe to redeploy non-essential personnel and resume normal operations.

THE X-FACTOR: PEOPLE

Advanced monitoring technology is vital to current operations, but the data provided need to be accessible and easily manipulated for real-time analysis and action. Ultimately, people and their know-how provide the mechanism for success – they are the “x-factor” for ensuring the data and technology are used to create safe and efficient operations.

Industry-wide, technology has evolved to allow for real-time monitoring and smarter uses of data. But only people can make safety a core value in their decisions.

The staff at BP’s Global Monitoring Center averages about 25 years of experience per person in rig operations, both on and offshore. The men and women at the center have to perform effectively in high-stress situations, adhering to protocols and communicating with on-site rig teams to keep them and the drill site safe by predicting and preventing adverse incidents.

People leverage technology and data to make faster and better decisions that improve safety. When engineers have data and information, they can start observing and trending it, while building out program alerts and scripts to automate various monitoring tasks.

Industry-wide, technology has evolved to allow for real-time monitoring and smarter uses of data. But only people can make safety a core value in their decisions. After science, it takes a human to turn tactics into standards.

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