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Shell chooses HiberHilo for better well monitoring

12 October 2021

Oil and gas wells can last a hundred years, but they don’t last forever. And when a well reaches the end of its life, it needs to go through a decommissioning process to preserve the surrounding area and make sure there is no environmental contamination in the future.

The decommissioning process begins with a one or two-year diagnostics period before the actual decommission. During this period, engineers gather data about the condition of the well so they can make a plan that eliminates risk after the decommission. Engineers need a lot of data during the diagnostics period, but not all of the data can be gathered automatically. To get the information they need, oil and gas companies send teams of engineers out into the field to gather the data.

Shell understood the hassles of decommissioning, and knew there had to be a better, safer way. And when the company’s engineers heard about HiberHilo, they figured it was worth testing the solution.

Crew trips are expensive: they can cost anywhere more than $10,000 per trip, depending on the location and the size of the crew. The trips also present a safety risk, which is especially sensitive in an industry committed to a zero-accident rate. Because the measurements are done by humans on an infrequent basis, there’s more room for error and a longer response time to any well integrity issues.

The Nederlandse Aardolie Maatschappij (NAM) and Royal Dutch Shell (better known as just “Shell”) wanted a better way to monitor well integrity. In a joint project, the companies tested HiberHilo on a well awaiting abandonment that was still connected to a pressure monitoring system. The purpose of the test was to evaluate the speed and ease of installation, compare the output of the sensor to an existing wired measurement system, and evaluate the future possibilities of HiberHilo.

Both companies wanted a system that was easy to install, easy to use, and easy to trust. HiberHilo proved to meet all three of these criteria. Installation of HiberHilo was lightning fast. The entire installation took less than three hours, and the sensors connected to the satellites within 15 minutes. The installation was so fast, the engineers estimated they could have done another 15 installations in the same day, which makes the application of HiberHilo in remote areas even more interesting.

HiberHilo vs. the wired connection

When Shell started using HiberHilo, the HiberHilo system reliably sent data to our systems. But, while we were testing we discovered a few tweaks that ultimately meant 99.8% of the data collected by HiberHilo arrived in our system.

Reliability is important, but so is the accuracy. We’d agreed with NAM and Shell that accuracy levels should be within a 10% range from what the current wired system reports. We found that the accuracy was astonishingly close. At most, our sensor’s data was only 1.87% away from Shell’s, when compared on a 0-40 bar range. On average, HiberHilo’s data was 99.75% as accurate as Shell and NAM’s systems. 

Shell is the third-largest oil and gas company in the world with more than 80,000 employees across 70 countries. Signed by the Shell headquarters, the agreement creates a centrally-approved template that covers basic aspects of the contract like pricing, liabilities, and warranties. With the framework in place, subsidiaries only need to create “call off” contracts that cover the gaps between what was centrally agreed upon and what specific contract details are needed per country.

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