Statement of Problem
The idea of acquiring digital records in place of paper records has been the goal of most every industry with the hope of improving performance and reducing costs. Paper records can’t tally columns of numbers automatically or create charts like a spreadsheet can. Paper records can’t automatically organize data like a database can.
If oil field data can be efficiently and reliably collected in digital form, operators can use the data to more quickly and accurately evaluate a well’s performance. By giving the pumper/well tender a tool that will help them with better and more efficient data collection, well visits can be more productive. Overall well operation and management will improve with more timely data through deployment of smartphone capability into the field with this project.
The data collection problem comes in acquisition methods and devices. Automatic acquisition using sensors is expensive. Some data requires input by a human, however if the acquisition takes longer than jotting down the information on a paper form, and is difficult to use, users will resist the change.
Data needed from the field includes basic well information such as company, well and lease names, well location, tank capacities and etc. Basic information only needs to be entered once. Daily information can include tank levels, pressure readings, temperatures, pump strokes per minute, operator name, and special observation or operational notes.
The goal of this project is to focus on the input methods and devices in order to overcome the user resistance with a new system whose usage is intuitively obvious and compelling. This work has its roots in an earlier 2006 SWC project undertaken by the Oklahoma Marginal Wells Commission (OMWC)(DOE/NETL Prime Award Number: DE-FC26-04NT42098, Sub Award Number: 3191-OMWC-USDOE-2098, Pumper/Well Tender PDA Program for Small Producing Companies). While several units were tested in the field, users found the devices difficult to use. In the final report, James Revard, Executive Director of OMWC, comments the data input using the PDA was more time-consuming than desired, and that additional work was needed on the software.
In order for the data collected to be of any use, it must find its way to the owner and be displayed in a meaningful way. Part of the project will be devoted to data communication, storage and display.
Systems of Merritt, Inc. seeks to collaborate with OMWC in order to leverage lessons learned from the previous project, and to gain access to contacts in the field that can provide feedback on their needs and requirements for efficient data acquisition.
With the changes in technology since the previous project, there have been significant changes in user interface, internet and communication technology. These changes would indicate that the idea of a hand-held data input device be revisited.
What are the costs of the new smartphone technology? Actually the cost is very low and fits in with cell phone costs already being paid by the operator. Below are some numbers that will give owners an idea of the technology costs:
iPhone hardware: $200 with AT&T contract, $100 for a previous generation iPhone and contract (see Wal-Mart and Apple references below).
AT&T monthly costs: Approximately $60 for phone plan and $30 for data plan – roughly $100 per month per phone per AT&T contract.
iPad hardware: $630 and up for wireless and cell data communication.
Monthly data Plan: $30 per month unlimited data plan from AT&T or $15/month for 250MB of data transfer – no contract required for either plan.
While the iPhone is a more expensive “phone,” it is competitive with other smartphones in price in terms of the initial hardware cost. If the owner replaces a phone and data plan he already has and switches to AT&T, the net monthly cost may be neutral if he already has a comparable $60/month usage plan and $30/month data plan.
Data collected by the smartphone would be transmitted back to the home office via cell communication and delivered via the web. Thus, no additional equipment would be needed in the office.
Another important point is that the user doesn’t need to carry any extra equipment into the field. Virtually all well tenders carry a cell phone. Since the smartphone would take the place of the user’s cell phone, there are no extra items to carry or keep track of.