by Nancy Thompson
In November 2009, ConocoPhillips began exploring the potential of the liquids-rich Eagle Ford shale, located in south Texas. The company had acquired a strong position with low acreage costs in one of the best shale plays in the country before industry attention to the area intensified.
Fast-forward to today: at the end of 2018 the company held approximately 200,000 net leasehold and mineral acres and had drilled more than 1,200 wells in the field. It focused on building infrastructure capacity with central facilities and pipelines and three condensate processing facilities. But as field complexity increased, so did progress in developing technology and resources to support the company’s long-term development plans. The Eagle Ford Integrated Operations of the Future team is solely dedicated to predicting, analyzing and solving field complexities. The team brings together talented production engineers and field operations staff to build best-in-class integrated operations where people, process and technology connect to deliver exceptional business value.
At the center of the integrated operations team is the Integrated Operations Center (IOC) in Houston. The IOC acts as a central hub, consolidating field data into one place and giving the team a detailed look at each Eagle Ford well and facility.
The IOC staff monitors all wells in the field 24 hours a day and seven days a week. If necessary, the team can remotely shut in each well with a click of a button. The staff also collects thousands of other real-time data points through automated technology.
“The IOC enables us to keep our finger on the pulse of the field from 180 miles away."
— Dayton Packebush
“Data gathered through the IOC allows us to constantly monitor our ongoing operations and provides a road map for efficient field development,” said IOC Operations Supervisor Dayton Packebush. “The IOC enables us to keep our finger on the pulse of the field from 180 miles away. We prevent spills by monitoring tank levels, oversee all equipment alarms and alerts, manage offtake levels, account for field personnel, and track truckloads per day.”
The IOC also plays a crucial role in the safety of local communities and employees. Remote shut-in capabilities control the wellhead from afar, preventing human intervention during potentially dangerous situations. For example, when flooding from severe storms threatens communities and operations, wells can be quickly and remotely shut in without dispatching field personnel. Data gathered in the IOC also helps progress the company’s strategy to move toward more liquid transportation via pipeline instead, which means fewer trucks on the road and lower emissions.
“Empowered with leading technology, our dedicated IOC team improves processes and safety in the field and guides future operations to their peak efficiency,” Packebush said. The unique combination of technology, people and process helps ensure that the Eagle Ford will continue to deliver exceptional value for years to come.