Route optimization is simpler than most oil and gas companies think it is

Route optimization doesn't have to be as complex as people make it out to be. Most companies have the data they need to do effective route optimization today.

Samantha McPheter
September 24, 2020

More people are asking about route optimization but should be asking this straightforward question instead

We have heard the question “Does eLynx provide route optimization software?” more often recently. Oil and gas route optimization is something that we have been helping our clients with for over a decade now. The core of our product has always been focused on operational efficiency, including spending less time and money driving from well to well to make sure everything is performing as planned.

Many oil and gas companies perceive that there is a fairly large leap to get from where they are today with their data and analytics to multi-stop route planning and dynamic route optimization. Perhaps the ubiquity of real-time GPS route guidance and nascent self-driving car technology makes people wonder when oil and gas analytics will get to the next level of automatically telling us what to do, where to go, and when.

While route optimization is gathering steam as a buzz phrase, the simple question your pumpers should be asking is, “What well needs my attention the most?”

route optimization based on production variances and well status
Optimal route based on production variances and well status

Our product has helped hundreds of companies in the gas industry optimize their routes. Most of these didn’t realize how close they were to route optimization analytics when we started working with them. Many times we see that companies have the data, it just needs to be circulated to the right people at the right time and with the right visualization so they can make better and faster decisions. So it is not a massive undertaking or investment of time and money.

What we have learned is determining the route to take is the easy part. Having everyone know what well should be worked on next is the real optimal route planner and route planning software. Most companies are not as far away from having these as they think.

How to decide which well needs attention

First and foremost, at the core of this decision comes having access to the right data. This means that everyone on your team should be able to quickly understand which problems represent the biggest opportunity. For pumpers, this means having instant mobile access to all of their wells. Their vehicle routing for multiple locations in the field instantly becomes easier. They can more quickly find the best route.

eLynx mobile app well review with target production and variance
The eLynx mobile app provides instant access to the information pumpers and operators need to make decisions

The eLynx mobile app provides instant access to the information pumpers and operators need to make decisions

Now that your team has the data, they need to be focused on making the best decision. When deciding which well you should drive to next, there are three factors to assess.

1. Well Status

Having a real-time view of which wells are currently down is the starting point in determining your next steps. However, this alone is not enough to jump in the truck and head out.

2. Target Production

Assessing whether a well produces 2 barrels per day or 20 barrels per day is the immediate next step in the decision-making process. Empowering your pumpers with this data is crucial to enabling them to make the best call as to which down well is most important.

3. Production Variance

Finally, it is important that we do not just focus on down wells. A down well that produces 2 barrels per day is less impactful than a 45 barrel per day well that is producing at 40% of target. Production Variance becomes the key metric that drives decisions because it looks across all wells and makes comparisons simple and fast.  

eLynx’s Well Review feature gives the ability to optimize routes today

The best way to more effective route management is to create a culture that makes decisions based on production variances. Everyone on your team should be asking “Where is the biggest production opportunity today?” You then empower them with access to the right information to make the best decisions in the field. eLynx has the most used SCADA mobile app for pumpers in the United States.

Our Well Review feature gives users a prioritized list of wells that require attention. This list can be accessed through a mobile device where you will see production variances calculated for down wells, wells at risk of going down, and wells producing normally. Quick and digestible visuals make it easy for both engineers and operators to decide what to work on and where to go next.

Operators can plan multiple stops and quickly determine the optimal solution for their route based on this information. The Well Review becomes their online route planner. Production variance is the ultimate optimization algorithm.

Route optimization is simply making decisions based on production variances.  

Predictive features take route optimization to the next level

eLynx is not only developing features to help our customers understand “what wells need their attention the most,” but are building the tools to help them know “what wells will start going down” before production falls. Our Anomaly Detection product reliably detects when production variances are expected to occur and identifies the root cause of the problem. This allows operations teams to understand the production variance at stake and know exactly what type of maintenance or fix is needed. By layering predicted time to failure into the mix, eLynx is able to help teams prioritize the wells that require their attention on a daily basis, especially before they begin to fail.

Your next steps to route optimization are likely much smaller than you think  

We have learned working with hundreds of oil and gas customers that companies often underestimate what can be accomplished with what they already have with very little work or additional investment. eLynx will partner with you to quickly take those smaller next steps so your team can make the best decisions about what to do next and where to go.

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