Oil & Gas 4.0: Remote Operating Centre (ROC)


Significant developments over recent years in new oilfield technologies have and continue to enter the design and operating environments, leading to large amounts of data being generated and analyzed to solve complex issues.

Today, we start the conversation in one of the evolutionary shifts in oilfield operations; the establishing of Realtime Operating Centers to control operations and make decisions in real-time, with limited physical presence on well sites. These combined with the very latest technologies will have a major impact across the industry.

Welcome to ROC4.0

This development is expected to provide enhanced decision-making capability and shift highly skilled talent from fields and platforms to ROCs (Realtime Operating Centers).

They are expected to allow early issue detection, resulting in increased production, and according to a recent WEF study deliver a combined global impact of $140bn, serving to mitigate risk and HSE incidents, especially in remote/inhospitable environments.

What They Should Do

The ROC activities typically revolve around Well planning activities and realtime monitoring during execution and include, but are not limited to:


  • A platform for collaboration across geologists/geophysicists, reservoir engineers, petroleum physicists, and production and well engineers
  • Providing visualization of the 3D subsurface and well for optimum well placement, well trajectory selection, asset development
  • Providing offset well analyses using integrated subsurface and drilling information
  • Performing detailed well engineering modeling
  • Dissemination of best practices and previous lessons learned in key well preparation experiences
  • Facilitating through various communication tools, the participation of the necessary local, regional, and global subject matter experts in collaborative well planning sessions


  • Real-time monitoring, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by experienced staff looking at trends and critical parameters from surface and downhole telemetry sensors and comparisons between actual data and modeled/predicted parameter values
  • Delivery of high quality data annotated and QA/QC’d by staff to decision makers and other relevant stakeholders, wherever they may be located
  • Capture and dissemination of relevant learnings and applicable best practices
  • Data facilitation of any after-action reviews, performance benchmark exercises, root-cause failure analyses, etc.

Business Case

The Business Case is compelling and is to improve the quality and speed of well planning and well delivery decision making, by reducing costs, improving quality, a more pro-active approach and improved communications across the enterprise, care of:

  • Reducing fault events and non-productive time
  • Improving operational efficiency and reducing invisible lost time
  • With increasing well complexities, to improve the quality of well construction and safety
  • Enhanced connectivity across reservoir engineering, geology/geophysics, well engineering etc

The journey is complex

The "Mark"

Capturing and interpreting data, taking effective action while minimizing risks to employees and the environment, lies at the heart of how E&P operates. Using IoT technology and the resulting data from core physical infrastructures so far has been used to improve HSE and unlock marginal operational efficiencies.

In the future however, taking the entire life cycle of an asset into account (see my previous article on the Cyber-Twin) should be adopted by collecting and analyzing data at each step; understanding how it would affect the next step in the sequence and capturing lessons to inform future designs and Machine Learning thus driving oil field assets in two ways:

(a) Advances in digital capabilities allow operators to shift their cost base to insight-driven analytics; enabling a greater share of resources to be invested in improving reliability, increasing flexibility and unlocking innovation.

(b) Operating models should be flexible and nimble, allowing for cross-disciplinary collaboration across assets to process data faster and more reliably.

Of course, this theoretically sounds good and today and over the coming weeks, we'll look at the real challenges and solutions that lie ahead in establishing the ROCs

The Main Challenges

In establishing these Realtime Operating Centers, there are a number of major hurdles to be overcome for them to live up to expectations:

  1. There are various applications deployed across the Automation Pyramid from the Enterprise Intelligence layers to the equipment controllers and each instance has its own unique reference and data model that relies on vendors for integration
  2. Unacceptable error rates in data, care of measurement devices applied as close as possible to extraction point and throughout the process
  3. Process information tied to equipment is not connected to realtime IT, thus creating lags in remote definition, subscription and communication, with local level fire-fighting the norm
  4. The resulting production cycle analysis are frequently undertaken offline with limited re-use within dashboards

Potential Solutions for further investigation

There are various solutions being used, tested and discussed across the majors and the NOCs, care of the rapid rise of the new 4IR disruptive technologies:

  1. New advanced IoT, Storage and Networks can greatly shorten time-to-value and the investment returns
  2. The technologies are becoming more accurate in data provisioning to integration to analysis to intelligence and machine learning
  3. The ongoing improvement in machine-2-machine communications and through the automation layers start to remove the silos and enable a more holistic and sophisticated view of the field
  4. At the same time, "shop-floor" to "top-floor" applications continue to be rationalized as the major software providers deepen their offerings

Integration and centralization of Oilfield systems is at the heart of the ROCs. The reality of device positioning, quality, communications and storage in realtime remains the greatest challenge and it will be my pleasure to dig deeper into the solution over the coming weeks. The "bottom-up" approach. 

Thereafter, the "top-down" optimization, planning, scheduling and performance analysis are the functions that are to be built around the ROCs.

It will be fun to explore!

Things Are Underway

Today we enjoy working with some of the very best Oil & Gas Operational and Information Technology SMEs from around the world to identify best practice solutions to overcome the business challenges associated with the investment and development cycles of ROCs.

In so doing we look at the streamlining of business processes and workflows that remain at the top of the list of improvements. These, when combined with latest proven technologies at an oilfield and corporate level are showing promise as long as we never under estimate the significant change management and training issues ahead (The Digital Culture 4.0).

But, Talent Acquisition is what we love to do.

love to hear from you, Andrew