Asset Management Automation IIoT

Marathon Upgrades Shale Asset Management

Grant Gerke | April 11, 2018

Oil and gas supermajors have moved away from large capital offshore development projects and toward optimization in oil fields in the western U.S.
Oil and gas supermajors have moved away from large capital offshore development projects and toward optimization in oil fields in the western U.S.

With a stable investment climate in manufacturing for the past eight years, mergers and acquisitions are here to stay for the foreseeable future.

While a bonus for investors, the result has been added complexity with the introduction of multiple manufacturing-application platforms and, in response, the creation of optimization initiatives for many large companies.

Marathon Oil, an exploration and production company with footprints around the world, recently launched a comprehensive reliability project with SAP’s Plant Maintenance module for their North American assets. Due to the success of the international division’s implementation, Marathon North America made the strategic move to update its legacy processes and shift toward better digital management of its oil-field assets.

For Marathon and the oil industry, smart instruments and data-acquisition technology have coincided with the shale boom of the past ten years. Also, the strategic decision by many oil and gas super-majors to move away from offshore development and toward oil-field optimization has resulted in the start of a golden age of remote monitoring for oil wells.

Project funding for Marathon’s three-phased maintenance initiative is coming from the corporation’s Information Technology (IT) and Reliability Group.

“From a global IT perspective at Marathon, one of our strategic directions is to enable as much mobile communication as possible,” said Paul Musser, IT operations manager at Marathon Oil in a webinar titled, “Preparing for the Future of Asset Management.” “Operations need to capture maintenance information much more quickly, so funding for the reliability initiative was right in line.”

The reliability initiative included three primary assets in Texas, Oklahoma, and North Dakota, along with implementation in three phases. “We created notifications, work-order creations, and equipment-health history, so we could begin doing reliability on equipment in the field,” stated Musser. Marathon built out operator and technician screens using Synactive’s GuiXT (Synactive Software Komponenten GmbH, Saarbrucken, Germany, synactive.com), which provides user-interface customization within an SAP environment. Remote equipment monitoring can include valves, motors, and components that have sensor relationships. 

“After a year of the first phase at the Eagle Ford development [Eagle Ford region of South Texas], we had implemented a functional system to collect data on all the wells, completed operator training, developed maintenance plans, and turned the system over to users,” explained Musser. According to Marathon, Eagle Ford had more than 27,000 work orders in one year and created KPIs (key performance indicators) for the entire oil and gas oil play in Eagle Ford. EP

This is the first part of the Marathon case study. Click here to read how Marathon implemented richer data sets with its maintenance module and how it’s changing the company’s maintenance approach.

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Grant Gerke

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