Control Room Operator Greg Guice used to take a 40-minute helicopter ride to a production platform in the Gulf of Mexico to do his job. Today, he rides an elevator to the 22nd floor of the One Shell Square building in downtown New Orleans.
That’s because Guice can now perform the same duties from the Olympus Remote Control Room (RCR). The room’s connection to the platform via fiber optics allows shore-based team members to see the same data at the same time as their offshore counterparts.
The RCR is part of the Olympus Integrated Operations Center (IOC), an innovative, collaborative work space that brings people, work processes and technology together so Shell Gulf of Mexico project teams can better plan required work and improve decision-making.
Jay Trussell, Olympus Platform Operation Manager, and Marc Chevis, Upstream Americas Integrated Deepwater Operations Manager, envisioned creating a place where the operations team offshore and the engineering and technical support teams, typically located in offices at One Shell Square, could work closer together.
Collaborative Work Environment
From his desk at the Olympus IOC, Trussell can see inside the RCR, where operators like Guice work around the clock. He can also view members of the surveillance engineering team sitting together nearby in one of six IOC work zones. In the past, they would be seated in individual offices, some on different floors, and others offshore.
“By bringing engineers, management and offshore operations staff into the IOC, we can work better together, planning activities so they are ready to be executed offshore. Instead of sending an email and waiting for a response, people can just turn around and talk to each other. We can reach decisions quicker and have fewer opportunities for miscommunication that so often comes with email,” Trussell notes.
That real-time access to the platform is key to production efficiency. “We are able to notice issues and trends before they become problems. That ultimately means production flows more consistently. And, that’s the ultimate benefit,” Trussell says.
As an example of the efficiencies the IOC creates, during the Olympus platform installation, a group of 11 engineers who traditionally would have gone offshore, performed 75% of its work from the RCR. “It was the first time Shell in the Gulf of Mexico had a remote commissioning of subsea equipment. Because they could do it from the RCR, we didn’t have to interrupt other critical work, pulling people off the platform to make room for the engineers,” Trussell adds.
Adjacent to the Olympus IOC at One Shell Square is the new Mars IOC, Shell’s second platform collaboration work space. Going forward, all offshore production platforms will be designed using this IOC concept.
“When you think about how we did things before, it was difficult to share information and data and actively work together. Phone and email communication creates a lot of wait-and-see time in reaching decisions. We didn’t have a very integrated staff between office and field. Now, both organizations are joined, at the same time in the same room, and work as a team. Operationally, this is a major milestone,” Chevis says.