The Future of Completions Design
This study is an overview of future technological trends in oil & gas completions design. Whether for an operator, a contractor, or a start-up, Frost & Sullivan believes that open collaboration and idea sharing will drive business opportunities and progress in the industry. To that end, this study has 3 goals:
• Describe key areas of technological advancement. Conventional methods of completions design is expected to see incremental changes with
the advent and use of new technologies. Which Industry 4.0 technologies will take precedence over others is the big question.
• Highlight notable work in those technological areas. The oil & gas industry is no stranger to innovation. In the completions stage, what key
innovations are happening and who are the notable innovators? Are there notable developments in other industries that we might leverage?
• Note the activities of operators, contractors, and service providers that are driving them toward the future of the industry. Established players
all know the industry landscape is changing. How are they responding to this change? And what can others learn from these strategies?
The future of completions design is inspired from other markets and industries. Several Industry 4.0 technologies are making an impact on new completion designs. At the same time, inspiration for use of new technology is also coming from manufacturing, aerospace, space exploration, and even Silicon Valley.
Equipment will become more integrated, incorporating several technologies. Robotics will leverage sensors and digital twins, while parts ordering and logistics will be handled via blockchain. Parts will be created via additive manufacturing, maintenance will be aided by artificial reality (AR), and the whole system will be coordinated via cognitive computing.
Several future technologies are already on the horizon. While outsiders may have thought these technologies were far off a few years ago, all of the mentioned technologies are under active development or undergoing commercialization. It is not too late to start partnering or exploring technology companies, but the first movers have already begun to move.
From 2006 to 2014, drilling costs formed the bulk for overall upstream projects as drilling service companies were ramping up to capacity. Post that phase, dual factors of reduced drilling activity as well as increased drilling efficiency has brought down cost in that phase dramatically.
With about 75% of costs now attributed to the well completions process, it is imperative for stakeholders to use technology as a means to ensure greater efficiencies, reduce time to complete each rig, and, resultantly, reduce cost of completion.
Early 2019 estimates indicate that the inventory of DUCs in the United States has increased to 8,200 from 4,300 in the last 5 years alone.
Rebounding oil prices that hit the $50/bbl in late 2016 and crossed $70/bbl in summer of 2018 has led to this increase of drilling of non-producing assets.
Among the several factors that impact these numbers, the ones to note include completions crew shortages, capital expenditure constraints, and production management.
Use of key Industry 4.0 technologies could help mitigate some of these challenges and push down breakevens so operators can be profitable even when oil prices are as low as $50s/bbl.
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