During the SPE Intelligent Energy Conference 2016 in Aberdeen Carl Schmitz, Operation Manager of Shell's Groningen gas field, has been talking about its unmanned operations and onshore control rooms with Energy Voice.
Energy Voice reported that NAM, a joint venture between Shell and ExxonMobil has been producing gas from the Groningen field since the early 1960s. In the mid-1990s NAM needed to replace older equipment and put in compressor modules to maintain pressure in the field. The restoration programme led to a 50% reduction in headcount on the field as NAM brought in greater automation.
Mr Schmitz said the area’s 300 wells have been grouped into 20 unmanned “clusters” that are watched from a central control room. A small number of people were employed to carry out maintenance on the various sites on Groningen but no more than two people are stationed in the control room, which is operational 24/7.
He said the unmanned, automated approach had provided greater consistency and flexibility in managing the huge field. “If we have five operators starting up a plant there will be five best ways of starting. When you automate you get rid of all that,”
Using technology and integrated operations to cut down on manning has been a popular theme throughout the SPE event, which is held every two years to showcase new and developing technologies and expertise by operators, service companies and technology providers.
Find out more about the conference at SPE Intelligent Energy.