Technology & Innovation
We’re an oil and gas company, but now also a tech company with a future defined by open access to data that represents a single source of truth for all to use.
Marathon Oil has made significant progress in using technologies and data to achieve operational excellence and boost business performance. We’re able to monitor the health of our fields remotely in real time, proactively manage our production assets, predict production early in a well’s life and automate wells, facilities and repetitive tasks. As a result, we’ve increased efficiency, enhanced well and facility uptime, improved safety and environmental performance and lowered costs.
One example of putting data to work is our field service management (FSM) system that combines work practices, processes and technology. FSM optimizes maintenance, measurement, pigging, production operations and our digital oilfield operations control centers (OCC). Using FSM, we’re addressing the challenge of managing these key processes on a fully mobile platform that operators can access in real-time on their smartphones.
Enterprise systems such as SCADA and SAP Plant Maintenance automatically feed equipment maintenance and operations tasks into the system. Work is prioritized and scheduled based on predefined business rules and objectives, and then individuals or crews that meet the required skill set are automatically dispatched. It also assigns the optimal driving route, which reduces drive time and the associated risk of accidents. Operators in the OCC monitor work execution in real time to ensure efficiency and workers’ safety.
The FSM system – a platform customized for Marathon Oil’s needs – is the outgrowth of data aggregation that started when we opened our first OCC in 2016. A small team of Marathon Oil employees collaborated with the vendor to configure, test and implement the FSM system in our Eagle Ford asset in 2019. We’re using lessons learned from the data captured to date to drive continuous improvement in Eagle Ford and implement FSM in our North Dakota Bakken and Oklahoma assets by year-end 2020.
Using the same core technology as FSM, we’re addressing the complicated and costly challenge of managing the produced water disposal process. In the Permian Basin, where we generated over 100,000 hauls of produced water in 2018, the existing process of identifying and scheduling vendors was time-consuming and inefficient. The transportation management system (TMS) we developed combines our OCC, vendor dispatchers and truck drivers onto a common mobile workflow platform. It schedules haulers in advance, assigns the most efficient and safest driving route, tracks progress from the OCC in real time using GPS and assures delivery to an approved water disposal site.
All hauls are confirmed against a set of asset-specific business rules and validated job tickets are entered into SAP, eliminating the need for the vendor to send an invoice, and improving the accuracy of payables. We’re seeing positive results from faster haul times, more accurate information, alignment and compliance with our contract terms and better visibility into the overall process in the Permian Basin. We plan to implement TMS in our other basins by the end of 2020.
Other targeted innovations developed by our employees are having a meaningful impact in the field. They include an automated dashboard to optimize operator routes in the Permian Basin and a data-driven, integrated automated workflow to optimize completions and well spacing in hours instead of weeks.
This unconventional thinking is apparent throughout Marathon Oil. Our finance and accounting and global supply chain teams automated repetitive tasks through robotic process automation, allowing employees to spend their time on higher-value work.
In addition, we’re combining the digital and physical worlds to address issues such as microbial induced corrosion (MIC) that can lead to pipeline leaks. The Eagle Ford asset team is using pipeline inspection data and our knowledge of our pipeline systems to try to predict where we need to remediate pipelines to prevent leaks. If successful, this predictive model would improve our environmental performance, strengthen our reputation as an operator and save money.
Physics, geology and engineering – the physical world – are still foundational and must be understood to extrapolate outside the bounds of today’s data set. The physical world will be augmented by a parallel, complementary digital world driven by immense data sets created in real time that provide a platform for predicting expected outcomes and testing near infinite business scenarios. Both worlds are essential and will converge for higher confidence, more predictability and better decision making.
Marathon Oil will continue to embrace digital technology and drive innovation to achieve our goal to be a low-cost, high-margin producer with safe, clean and responsible operations.
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