ChevronTexaco's Digital Oil Field Aims to Aid Reserves, Productivity
By ANGEL GONZALEZ
DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

April 20, 2005
HOUSTON -- The digital oil field of the future has taken shape in ChevronTexaco Corp.'s new headquarters in Houston since early January -- and it looks like the set of a Cold War melodrama. In a screen-filled war room, technicians monitor real-time data flowing via fiber-optic cable and satellite links from sensors behind the drill bit below a Gulf of Mexico platform. By looking at the acoustic, temperature and pressure information, engineers can almost hear and feel the pulse of the drill, and receive e-mail alerts of any emergency on their BlackBerries if they are out of the office.
.
Developments like these could help add 125 billion barrels to global reserves in the next 10 years, according to Cambridge Energy Research Associates. CERA analysts predict digital oil fields could improve reserve recovery by 6%, raise production rates by up to 10% and cut operating costs by up to 25% through better reservoir management and reduced on-site crews. The technology would be a boon for oil companies being pressured to find and pump more oil amid a shortage of qualified labor.
.
The technology industry also stands to gain. International Business Machines Corp., which employs about 1,000 people in its petroleum-industry practice, estimates the market opportunity for digital oil field applications to be $1 billion between 2005 and 2010.
.
"The digital oil field has moved from being a fringe concept five years ago to the point where it's becoming an accepted part of the industry," said Bill Severns, the lead researcher for the CERA study. Challenges arise from oil companies' cautiousness when it comes to technology spending and potentially drastic changes in the workplace, but proponents are hopeful.
.
................Total Asset Awareness.............................................................................................................................................................
.
According to Mr. Severns , information technology can provide companies with "total asset awareness" -- real-time monitoring of reserves, production and transportation. Live data would flow from sensors at the drill into remote operation centers, and from there into the accounting department and Wall Street.
.
Full Article
.
Write to Angel Gonzalez at angel.gonzales@dowjones.com
Copyright (c) 2005 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.