As can be seen in the most forward leaning oil companies these days, a new take on the organizational structure offers opportunities to gain speed and efficiency in the drilling organization.

Posted 03.06.2020 07:28 by Magnus Tvedt
02 by doing business as usual


For instance, with data driven well planning, you move from single case engineering to multi case engineering. The engineers get tools to analyse multiple cases, such as well designs and concepts - in hours and minutes. Traditional well planning has emphasized the single cases, where engineers have to enter pages on pages of details to get to a conclusion - where the uncertainty in the data entry quickly can be significant.

So, the engineers get data driven tools for fast analytics, what does this mean for the organization?


The first organizational topic we meet is the pace of iterations. Well planning have week long iterations in defining and analyzing a case. Data is entered into simulators by different individuals in many disciplines to document effects of the chosen design.

A formation thickness uncertainty or a fluid system optimization takes two to three weeks to study and plan for. For more complex scenarios, a study can take months, involving parts of or the whole well planning team, and costly external resources.

These long iterations and individual work call for weekly status meetings and progress reporting. With these week long iterations, project management is complex and require advanced project management skills to follow up. And your engineers can turn into expensive administrators, starved for technical challenges. Changes in scope, progress, scenarios, data version tracking and decision reporting.

Patching together discrete deliveries and conclusions to a combined project business case is a complex task, where experts are bound in stakeholder management and often get trapped with wrong data and undocumented decisions. This can be done better.


You want your team to be creative and productive. And they want to come up with brilliant solutions to valuable problems. All you need is a data driven tool which caters for this way of working.

In data driven well planning, the engineering teams shift to analyzing data and screening scenarios. When you have data for pressures, experiences, well designs and operations, the engineering teams quickly prototype concepts and designs, and can keep track of reasoning, background data and scenarios.

And the iteration time goes down, a good morning session covers what used to take months, because the data entry is replaced with analysis.

When data is visualized and categorized for decision makers across disciplines, a good team screen and prioritize well designs and challenges in a meeting. In fact the more data you have up front, the more decisions you can make early to avoid costly waste of time later in the project.

And since the engineers don't have to spend time on administration and data entry, they get to spend more time on high value engineering and personally rewarding tasks. You see the result on the bottom line with faster, cheaper and more advanced wells.


It can seem intimidating with more efficient work processes, but what the industry is going through is an increase in precision level. When you see the big picture, you realize that the engineer's creativity is called for in optimization and further detailing of the operations, but engineers are locked up in repetitive data entry tasks instead.

In multi case engineering, more planning and risk mitigation is done in the planning phase than in traditional well planning. When you do multi case analyses, you end up with a prioritized list of well and well designs, and you can choose where to place your effort. So, if two well designs have two unique features which needs further examining, well spend time on those before you move into decision making on concept selection. There will always be more technical challenges awaiting, and they will never look the same.

Tasks which have been traditionally handled in operations are now moved into planning, as the engineers get more powerful tools. As new work processes are implemented, engineers start practicing more advanced well planning skills, where they get to exercise their full range of technical experience.

A follow up to more advanced planning, is that the precision of the operations increases. When the plans are more detailed, fewer assumptions and quick decisions are made in operations. And the well responsibility moves into planning, giving the engineers even more challenging tasks and visibility for their creativity.

You now get a well manufacturing organization which make thrive with recasting the well designs, and deliver operational plans at sky high detail levels. They implement operational uncertainty in the plans, and spend time on developing scenarios for all possible outcomes. Where traditional well planning has to stop because the operational uncertainty is too large, data driven well planning let the engineering teams continue adding detail and controlling the operations.

In fact, giving well planners data driven tools is like upping the architect with a ruler - wouldn't you love to be the one to start exploring the more precise planning?


In oil companies around the world, the drilling and well organization can be looked at as variations of a theme. Everyone knows this theme, and the vendors are familiar with how things work. Trying to change this world wide business by introducing some new software has proven impossible. This calls for creative and ambitious leaders in the oil industry.


First of all, you need to know what your organization is supposed to deliver. Lean well planning is about optimizing the investment for production, and you know how incidents can be detrimental.

Defining real deliveries which optimize value for investment can be complex, as the well delivery process has been defined by well known industry software. Almost down to every button click and safety factor has been described as the work process, since the industry has been so homogeneous and centered around one software suite. But new goals needs to be set - just getting to TD without severe incidents is no longer a success.


Set ambitious goals, move away from traditional tasks and routines, look for faster iterations. It takes time to learn alternative ways, and the unknown can seem intimidating on a powerpoint level.

But try out new software, give it a chance, invest in data science and train your team for modern operations. Our experience working with the best drilling organizations is that both managers and engineers need to see a personal gain - after all we are all humans.

Remember that any move is about making your best people better, the challenge is to show people how they will fit into a new well planning paradigm. And everything seems intimidating on powerpoint.


We in Pro Well Plan work with data driven well planning; software development and work processes. Contact us here for consulting opportunities, and to receive our white paper on how software affects the organization.

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