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SEP-OCT 2017

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INTECH SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017 27 AUTOMATION IT energy of the gas processed by the equipment. The system has auxiliary (backup) batteries charged with a conventional battery tender pow - ered by the primary generator or a solar panel. The auxiliary power system is required to keep communications alive when the system is not running due to maintenance, a component level failure, or insufficient gas flow from the site. Once the shutdown condition has been remedied, hav - ing communications available with headquarters allows remote startup. Data from afar The company currently has systems installed in the western U.S.—and future sites could be on- shore or offshore anywhere in the world with cel- lular or satellite connectivity (figure 2). Alternately, a local radio network could be installed to get the data to a network hub. Well-site data from the systems is sent to local data centers. This is a critical element of the modu- lar architecture, because it leverages specialized resources. Data centers have extensive redundan- cies built into their power and networking services, absolutely required for operating critical hardware remotely. The company uses one data center in Denver and one in Dallas, and is investigating vir- tualization to add dynamic scaling and load bal- ancing to field data gathering. Currently, all analog data is being transmitted at 1-second intervals. Discrete data is transmitted as it changes. Although Pioneer had data coming in from field sites to the data centers, it had no sophisticated data analysis tools. If engineers found themselves with some free time, they could manually load historical data into an Excel spreadsheet and cal - culate a few basic metrics. But Excel is not suit- able for calculations of reasonable complexity, so much of the data gathered was not used as it could be. How could the company better analyze data from its far-flung operations? Visual analytics application software After analyzing various data analytics software packages, Pioneer selected a visual data ana - lytics application software that met its vision for utility and ease of use. This included com- ponents such as a graph database, time-series optimization, and a clean browser-based inter- face—plus advanced data analytics and infor- mation sharing capabilities. The visual analytics application enables the company to optimize the data stream. It can define simple computations to be performed at the edge to determine what data needs to be streamed to headquarters for analysis, and what data can be archived locally at the sites. The visual analytics application software is cur- rently being used to analyze and understand his- torical data, and to generate and define new rules for operating parameters (figure 3). Applications are endless. In a continuous improvement cycle, all data has potential value if it can be unlocked and leveraged. Now there is also an environment for experimentation and learning, and instant visual feedback so engineers can analyze complex data in a reasonable amount of time. FAST FORWARD l Oil and gas fields in several states use Pioneer Energy's equipment at production well sites to capture methane and natural gas liquid streams. l Operating data from the equipment is sent via cellular or satellite communications to secure data centers for monitoring and analysis. l Engineers use the data to analyze and improve well-site operations. Figure 1. The FlareCatcher unit produces NGLs and pipeline-quality methane from flare gas. The Seeq visual data analytics software application helps im- prove efficiency, reliability, and performance. Figure 3. Engineers can monitor equipment at remote well sites with Seeq's data analytics software, optimizing the data stream at the edge to focus on the most relevant information.

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