China National Offshore Oil Corp, or CNOOC, said on Thursday that its “smart” natural gas project in the South China Sea will help make offshore oil and gas production in the country more digital and intelligent.
The “smart” natural gas project, or an intelligent production control center, uses technologies like the internet of things, big data and artificial intelligence. It can also conduct real-time monitoring, forecasts and diagnosis, remote control, integrated sharing, coordinate operations and assist decision-making, all of which will substantially improve the production efficiency of offshore oil and gas fields, the company said.
“The production control center is the central pivot and brain of the entire smart gas field, which supervises production conditions in the cluster,” said Cui Rong, managing director of the Dongfang oil and gas fields.
“It not only supervises the high-risk operation, but also follows the potential hazard rectification progress, monitors all mechanical equipment with fault diagnosis implementation and collates production data to enable collaborative production of various gas fields.”
The Dongfang gas fields cluster, consisting of 10 offshore production platforms, one onshore processing terminal and several oil and gas offshore pipelines, is the biggest self-run gas field in terms of production located in the western part of the South China Sea, according to CNOOC.
After two decades of development and construction, the annual gas production from the region has exceeded 5.7 billion cubic meters, making it the most important gas source for Hainan province’s domestic and industrial sector, said CNOOC.
According to Tang Guangrong, deputy director of CNOOC’s Hainan branch, offshore gas production will not only be more secure, but also more efficient with the digitalized production control center.
“The remote control of the various types of gas production will allow faster distribution and dispatch while substantially increasing the production efficiency,” he said.
The intelligent gas distribution system, which analyzes the gas fields’ upstream and downstream flow conditions, will make the distribution 10 times faster than in the past.
“The intelligent patrol robots and the real-time monitoring equipment are also more precise than the manual inspection, making the gas output more secure and guaranteed. It also ensures the steady supply of gas even under extreme conditions like typhoons, so that there are no disruptions in gas supplies.”
Experts said the digitalization of offshore gas fields will promote high-quality development, with production costs gradually decreasing as more high-tech personnel are deployed in the control center.
Cao Lujia, an analyst at BloombergNEF, said: “The smart gas field will further improve the modernization of the country’s oil and gas industry chain.
“This is also in accordance with the 2021 energy guidance of the central government, which emphasizes innovation in energy infrastructure construction, digitalization in oil and gas fields as well as pipeline networks,” she said.
Digital renovation on the Dongfang offshore gas field commenced in 2018. It became the country’s first unattended wellhead platform that can resume production via remote control in 2019, thereby reducing the production resumption time from the previous two hours to 20 minutes. It also finished the renovation projects of automatic platform gas distribution, intelligent detection of equipment and intelligent machine patrol inspection last year.
The company is currently going through the “unmanned transformation” of its 29 offshore platforms in the country. Nearly 11.3 percent of its platforms are unmanned, it said.
CNOOC has also vowed to use its smart gas field construction experience to push forward the country’s offshore oil and gas development and bolster intelligent equipment research and development and manufacturing.
The construction of the offshore smart gas fields is one of the company’s efforts in digitalized transformation, said Wang Dongjin, CNOOC chairman.
The company will continuously step up construction of smart offshore oil and gas facilities and further decrease expenditure through digitalization to achieve high quality development of China’s offshore oil and gas sector, Wang said.