Black Bear Energy Resources Plc (BBER) and chief executive Tony Mason prioritise the use of technologies typically reserved for much larger companies as it gives the team an edge in an ever-evolving industry sector.
Q1: What do we mean by ‘digital technology’ in oil and gas operations?
Digital technologies are electronic tools, systems, devices and resources that generate, store and/or process data.
Digital technology, or remote technology, enables a view of operations and production on a 24/7 real-time basis.
They are powered by sensors installed in wellbores, flow lines, surface facilities, pipelines, and oil and natural gas storage/sales facilities. Such sensors transmit information in real-time and will reveal any irregular activity or worse, whether something is going wrong.
Oil and natural gas production data can be captured in real-time, linked with automated data communications systems and provide the basis to make informed operational decisions.
The second aspect of digital technology is “digital twinning”.
Digital twinning is the use of software that enables engineers and operations to share information.
This is hugely important because it allows a sharper, more effective information exchange. It enhances critical processes. It cuts down on duplication of efforts, asking questions, or setting a course already answered or solved.
This eliminates wasted talent, wasted time, and wasted money.
Q2: How and where is digital technology currently used successfully?
In the oil and gas arena, it is currently used by larger and larger mid-sized oil and gas players like BP, Shell, Chevron, and Anadarko.
It is not being used by the smaller or smaller mid-sized companies due to the costs associated to retrofit facilities or because they have not “had to do it” from a regulatory and compliance perspective.
The companies that use these technologies set the pace and remain ahead of the business curve, not to mention they are the more responsible players with a view to the environment and ESG.
Q3: Chief executive Tony Mason has been using digital technologies for years, what is his track record?
– Mason enabled remote monitoring of a field in 2007, the project which contained H2S (Hydrogen Sulfide), a gas that can a be deadly.
It gave the ability to shut-in the well, to help avoiding any safety-related issue with these emissions.
This also added the timing and safety dimensions at the physical source.
While on-site safety checks happen at least once a week, the remote monitoring technology saved time, money, and manpower by not having to have a pumper on-site and therefore cut costs.
– Remote monitoring was used extensively in the Permian Basin and North Central Texas area while running 600 wells from 2015-2018.
This allowed us to manage flow rates of oil into the sales tanks and provided the ability to see the levels of both oil tanks and saltwater disposal (SWD) tanks with the ability to react in real-time to spill issues and overflow.
In particular to the saltwater disposal tanks, there were several instances of potential overflows from the SWD unit that were averted and remedied in real-time. Without real-time monitoring the outcome could have been disastrous.
The same applied to a sudden “flush” of production on a lease in N. Central Texas that would have caused an oil tank to overflow. Again this was averted, because of the ability to react rapidly to the situation.
In all cases the use of remote monitoring enabled a reduction of manpower on the ground and allowed what manpower we had to be sent to the most relevant areas as needed.
The safety aspects and environmental aspects are self-evident. We had the ability to react in real-time to specific situations.
Q4: Why is Black Bear Energy Resources committed to using digital technologies?
Digital technologies are not new to Tony Mason.
Mason adopted a technological approach to oil and gas operations over 15 years ago when companies like BP and Shell began pioneering this process.
He inherently saw the value to operations and of cost savings to which he remains committed as well as the sound environmental benefits.
Firstly digital technology, or remote technology, enables a view of operations and production on a 24/7 real-time basis.
Secondly, Black Bear knows this technology enables vastly better flows of information between engineers and operators creating a “digital twin” of information.
Equally important is that it supports compliance. It is a vital tool in monitoring critical regulatory, health, and safety issues. It is a hugely important tool for the Company’s commitment to ESG integration pertaining to methane, CO2, H2S, or any other type of emissions, leak, breakage, or spill threat.
Simply put, it is smart.
It is also expedient as the company can and will act and react in real-time. It will help eliminate lag time and capital expense when sending out crews, learning about an issue from local people in the area, or worse yet, not knowing there are issues at all.
It will allow the company to work at higher levels of productivity based on higher levels of intelligence, creating a more robust workflow between people, projects, and equipment.
When US regulations become more stringent Black Bear will not lose time, money, or efforts because the infrastructure will already be in place.
Under the leadership of Tony Mason, the use of digital technology has been built into the cost of all aspects of the business eliminating additional and very costly adaptation at a later date.
It is non-negotiable and will be incorporated into all aspects of the business from the outset. When and as the US mandates a higher level of reporting and control Black Bar Energy Resources will already have these systems in place.
Black Bar Energy Resources expects savings of up to 20-40% CAPEX by incorporating this technology into the business from the outset.