By Kelli Ainsworth, Editorial Coordinator
In 2013, Shell formed a BOP reliability team to improve BOP uptime, which averaged 91% that year. By 2015, average BOP uptime had risen to 97%, Jose Meraz, BOP Reliability Team Lead, said in a presentation at the 2016 IADC Well Control Europe Conference on 19 October in Copenhagen. “One of the things we noticed back in 2013 was the lack of data,” he explained. Shell’s team’s efforts, therefore, have focused on improving data collection through more detailed reports, databases and real-time monitoring.
Information that Shell received on BOP failures used to contain few details. “We started initiating a failure report that allows subsea engineers to fully describe what happened with the BOP,” he said. The report includes information such as the part and serial number, along with pictures associated with the failure and recommendations. “That led to a different mindset for individuals who were offshore,” Mr Meraz said.
In 2015, Shell also implemented a system that tracks BOP performance in order to improve between-well maintenance. Such maintenance used to be performed according to a database, but it wasn’t specific to the particular BOP being maintained. “It really wasn’t taking into account the issues that were already encountered,” Mr Meraz said. The issue tracker shows what issues had come up and how they had been managed, allowing engineers to consistently address those issues during maintenance.
Shell’s BOP reliability team has also been focused on improving the collection and use of real-time data. “It’s now a requirement in the Gulf of Mexico to perform real-time monitoring because of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE),” Mr Meraz said. “Aside from the regulations, we feel it’s important for us to assess the data for the sake of reliability.” Shell has BOP monitoring station in Houston that is manned 24/7.
An internal database also organizes engineering bulletins that are sent out regarding BOP issues and failures. “There’s a flurry of engineering bulletins that get sent out to the industry, but there’s really no management on how we implement them,” Mr Meraz said. “We decided to tackle that problem… This helps us understand where we’re at and the issues that are existing on other rigs.”
Additional data being collected is being used to develop Shell’s BOP Reliability Model. The operator performed a fault-tree analysis, during which it looked at every individual component of the BOP to determine how a failure of that component would affect the overall health of the BOP. The model will also build reliability profiles for each component. “When we get down to the later stages, we’ll be able to understand what is the reliability of a particular component. Every time that component is faulty, the reliability profile will change,” Mr Meraz said.
One of the biggest challenges the BOP Reliability team is facing is tracking the life cycles of valves, which is currently done manually. “It’s very difficult for us to say this valve with this part number failed at this point at this many cycles,” he said. “So we’ve got to find a better way of doing this.” The operator is exploring using radio frequency identification (RFID) technology to track component life cycles. The RFID tag associated with a failed component would be scanned to provide data on how many cycles the component went through before failing. This information could then be used to update the database and reliability profiles.