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Customer Story

A model in real time: How Eni built a digital oil field using the PI System

Photo of pump jacks in the field
  • Challenge
    Lack of real-time data to model and simulate production scenarios.
  • Solution
    A digital twin of oil field assets to run advanced algorithms and production simulations.
  • Benefits
    Optimized processes and assets, enabling new production opportunities, early detection of issues, and optimal parameter settings.

Headquartered in Rome, Eni S.p.A. identifies and extracts oil and gas across 79 countries. Given the volatility of the oil and gas market, Eni’s long-term success hinges on the combination of optimizing a network of upstream assets while locating new extraction opportunities. To do so, Eni engineers use operational data to monitor upstream assets. However, previously, information was not available in real time. Not only did this cause delays in analysis, it prevented the team from capitalizing on new revenue streams and ensuring optimized production. With a goal of creating new efficiencies in production by finding optimal asset parameters, Eni turned to the PI System. Leveraging data to feed simulation models representing real-time oil field conditions, Eni embarked on a journey to optimize asset configuration and maximize oil production across sites.

Genetically optimized data

As a first step toward maximizing upstream assets, Eni built a robust integrated production-optimization system. Sitting at the center of this solution is e-rabbit, Eni’s proprietary technology. Just as a geneticist can use chromosome markers to predict certain characteristics or desirable traits, e-rabbit applies genetic algorithms to operational data to create various simulation models. Using a series of inputs, such as pump stabilizer speed, pressure, separator, and more, e-rabbit compares every possible combination of settings to find optimal asset parameters.

With e-rabbit, Eni is going beyond traditional targets and moving toward the best possible configuration of assets. However, for Eni to leverage e-rabbit most effectively, it needed access to real-time data.

The digital oil field

Already a PI System user, Eni had access to operational data. However, extracting data from the PI System caused delays. Engineers manually gathered data in the field, connected it to Excel, and imported it into business-software systems before building simulation models run by e-rabbit. Ready to step into real time, Eni connected the PI System to headquarters, enabling continuous updating of simulation models. Models are connected to the PI System and e-rabbit, creating a circular network of integrated and process simulation. “The PI System can communicate with e-rabbit, and e-rabbit will orchestrate the models that are updated with the real-time data from the field,” said Luca Cadei, chairman of Eni’s SPE YP Italian Section.

Beyond e-rabbit, Eni also connected the PI System to its internally developed digital oil field solution called eDOF (Eni Digital Oil Field) for visualizing data coming from the PI System as well as other data sources. With high-frequency data acquired in real time and mixed with lower-frequency data, such as daily and monthly information, eDOF models and simulates production data to give users across departments the information they need to monitor parameters and understand KPIs. While they can’t monitor every KPI at the same time, Eni uses coefficients and pass-through technology to make KPIs a single variable trend, enabling engineers to monitor assets as a whole.

Through the combination of eDOF and the PI System, key stakeholders have access to remote displays, dashboards, trends, statistics, and more to perform real-time analysis. Data from eDOF is visualized in the monitoring room using PI Vision, and real-time data is sent to e-rabbit, allowing engineers to work in a collaborative environment. “If we are not able to visualize what we are building or trending, it’s useless,” said Cadei. “And PI Vision gives us big help for building this type of dashboards.”

We can build a model, but we need the PI System.
Luca Cadei
Chairman of Eni’s SPE YP Italian Section
Eni real-time based application chart with PI SystemUsing real-time data from the PI System, Eni simulates production scenarios to find optimal equipment parameters.

Two simulation views

Once the PI System was connected to eDOF, Eni had a true digital twin, with full simulation capabilities viewed two ways. Using the optimization algorithm, users can connect to the PI System directly, schedule optimization, and receive an output of recommended operating parameters. Those new parameters are then sent to production engineers to implement in the field, often weekly.

In monitoring mode, users can build trends and KPIs by connecting the PI System with simulation models and defining input variables from the Asset Framework (AF). AF elements are organized by country and site and connected to e-rabbit, which runs simulation models showing optimal production. Those models are compared to real-time PI System data. Simulations are run throughout the day, enabling engineers to immediately see when assets deviate from projected performance.

Thanks to these simulation models, Eni has optimized production efforts and even identified new production opportunities. Recently, e-rabbit used PI System data to suggest that Eni open a new service line in its West Africa location, increasing oil production by 60 percent. Not only that, business units across Eni now have access to operational data, promoting a more collaborative environment and empowering engineers to increase efficiency and production at their sites.

For more information about Eni and the PI System, watch the full presentation here.

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