Statoil Uses SGI Visualization Technology at Support Center

Statoil has purchased a sophisticated array of Silicon Graphics visualization technologies that herald a new era in remote reservoir management. Statoil has installed SGI(R) Onyx(R) 3000 family-based visualization supercomputers in its first Onshore Support Center (OSC), which officially opened in late December 2003. Onshore scientists, engineers, and management can now see what the operators on the North Sea oil platforms see, provided by real-time data feeds via fiber optic cable, broadband radio-linked communication, and sub-surface sensor transmissions.

By supporting a variety of offshore operations to onshore remote management, Statoil will be able to:

  • confidently drill new oil wells with extreme precision
  • reduce the number of people on the rigs
  • reduce cost of transportation
  • improve the safety of their workers
  • accelerate and improve decisions
  • increase the amount of oil from existing platforms and wells
  • achieve a safer, more profitable environment over the lives of reservoirs

  • One of the world's largest net sellers of crude oil and a substantial supplier of natural gas to Europe, Statoil constructed the OSC at their offices in Stjordal, Norway. Several more remote management centers based on SGI(R) technology are in the planning and construction stages at Statoil.

    "This new entity puts Statoil among the leaders for implementing new and existing technology," said Svein Omdal, HNO-Stjordal Visualization & Onshore Support Centre, Statoil. "It could improve recovery by 19 million barrels of oil-worth some 3 billion Norwegian Kroner (more than US $428.5 million over a 5 year period)-through optimal well positioning for optimum recovery. This new way of working can also reduce costs during the drilling process. By using the better support from onshore and better collaboration between offshore and onshore personnel, we feel that we can become more efficient in the drilling process, and that we can save drilling days in the project. We selected SGI because of our prior experience with their high-end visualization products and because they continue to be market leaders in the visualization compute area for oil and gas recovery. It was important for us at Statoil to continue that good work."

    Statoil's OSC is based on the SGI(R) Reality Center(R) environment, powered by SGI's Onyx 3000 family of visualization supercomputers, and uses Barco(R) CADWall(TM) projectors and screens. It features a rear-projected, flat-screen with two-channel passive stereo. There are also two rear-projected three-channel control room displays, plus a number of pods and modules where the operations engineers and geologists work. The SGI(R) Reality Center facility utilizes four Barco digital projectors and two Barco projection screens as well as SGI(R) Reality Center Manager augmented by video, DVD, audio, and switching equipment. The combined SGI Reality Center and control room displays result in a visualization area that is over 18 feet wide and over 6 and one-half feet high (5.5 meters x 2 meters). Working with Statoil, SGI designed and, with long-time partner Barco, delivered the control walls and SGI Reality Center systems.

    "This is a whole new direction for the inclusion of visualization technology into the operations management part of the petroleum business," said Magne Arne Brekke, country manager, SGI Norway AS. "For Statoil, the SGI Reality Center facility onshore visualization provides much more visual information and much more accurate and precise information than ever before. Throughout the industry, these kinds of centers will be, more and more, where decision-making takes place, not only for production and reservoir management but also for safety and security, an ever-increasing concern. With onshore remote visualization and control, management can follow whatever situation occurs, especially under certain circumstances such as bad communications or in war zones. Many oil and gas companies are considering onshore centers because, frankly, oil is located in many areas where many companies wish it were not. While cost-savings and greatly improved exploration and drilling operations are paramount, security remains a substantial part of the industry's move to remote management operations."

    SGI Reality Center facility at Statoil's OSC delivers complete, real-time virtual representation of all the instruments people would see in the control room on the oil rigs. Users can experience a complete virtual presence with none of the risks of traveling by helicopter in the brutal winds over the frigid waters of the North Sea. These supercomputers handle a variety of collaborative efforts -- ranging from day-to-day operations and management, and beyond, to virtual reality planning and monitoring of drilling wells based on data transmitted from the drill bit, to computation of complex seismic data to optimize well locations. Statoil's onshore multidisciplinary geoscientific, engineering and operations teams will work closely together with personnel on the platform, to bring offshore and onshore together in a tightly integrated team.

    "Statoil has long been a pioneer in the application of technology to their oil business and now, once again, Statoil will be setting the global standard for how remote operations are going to be built and used," said Bill Bartling, senior director, Market Strategy, Energy, SGI. Silicon Graphics is very well established in the exploration work process, but this is now moving those time and field proven technologies, which have proved to be so effective in exploration, into a new part of the petroleum business -- into the Production Department Profit Centers where teams will use them as their everyday workstations. The fact that Statoil has built one Onshore Support Center, and has selected SGI to continue to deliver visualization supercomputers as they build several more, is testimony of their confidence in the value these centers are going to provide. It's a powerful endorsement of SGI technology. Plus, the OSC provides a very convenient vehicle to place teams in close proximity that were previously distant to collaborate using the best data, the best tools and the best people to drive improved operational, environmental and financial excellence. Putting all the teams together in the same place around their data in a collaborative facility is a way of bringing disparate disciplines together in a way that's going to have a lot of very tangible and measurable financial benefits."

    As the OSC was being outfitted, Statoil began using some of the SGI visualization capabilities and the operation control rooms with rigs that have similar equipment installed on board. At present this includes five North Sea drilling rigs. Plans are underway to install similar equipment on other Platforms and drilling Rigs, in addition to Statoil's several new OSC's currently under construction throughout Norway.