In a collaborative effort, BP, Ensco and National Oilwell Varco (NOV) are conducting a pilot program offshore Brazil to test a real-time blowout preventer (BOP) health-monitoring system. The key component is a BOP “dashboard” designed to improve communication among operations personnel, rig contractor subsea engineers and the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) to assess potential BOP issues, said Jim McKay, drilling engineer for BP.
“We see the dashboard as a communication tool, not a diagnostic tool, for operational decision-making and to simplify the complex diagnostics in BOP systems,” Mr McKay said in a presentation at the 2012 IADC/SPE Drilling Conference & Exhibition on 6 March in San Diego, Calif. “Traditionally, BOP data is not exchanged to shore from the offshore event logger,” he said. “We believe the industry could benefit from having BOP control system integrity, or BOP health, presented in a way that allows both onshore and offshore operations people to communicate with BOP experts to assess risks associated with the BOP and the BOP control system.”
The pilot was launched last year on Ensco’s DS-4 rig. Since late November, data has been transmitted from the rig to shore, and a working dashboard was activated in February. The initial phase of the pilot is focusing on the system’s electrical components, with the hydraulic components planned for subsequent phases. The dashboard takes existing alarms, analog data and events from the BOP engineering work station (EWS) and translates them into a high-level traffic light status – red meaning no functionality, yellow meaning functionality but no redundancy, and green indicating full functionality with redundancy. The end user can view the dashboard at any time to see the current status or review past reports of alarm and event information.
Assessing the risk
For the pilot project, yellow is the highest level. When an alarm is activated, a risk assessment is conducted to determine how critical the alarm is. If the assessment indicates a non-critical issue, the color will remain yellow. The color also can be elevated to red status or moved back to green if necessary. The system is designed to recognize that alarms are not equally important, Mr McKay noted. Some alarms may indicate remedial action is necessary. However, an inoperable solenoid valve on a blind shear ram could dictate that the BOP be pulled.
“One of the key takeaway messages from the pilot is that the offshore EWS must be used to confirm anything that is seen on the dashboard before making a decision,” Mr McKay said. “We are not going to pull the BOP simply by looking at the dashboard. This is a communication tool that facilitates joint assessment of an issue and broadens the reach of BOP health. We are hoping the industry will ultimately adopt this system and that its use becomes widespread with a common platform across the entire rig industry.”
Going forward, the team would like to implement some of the redundancy logic for electrical health, starting with hydraulic logic, work with other OEMs for similar solutions and look at sensors for improving the BOP system. “We also need reliability data,” Mr McKay said. “While the production side of the industry has been actively populating an industry database of reliability information, reliability data for BOPs is pretty sparse.”