At Chevron, Digital Technology Spouts Gusher of Savings

Some Fortune 500 companies wait years to learn whether their expenditures on newfangled technologies translate into cost savings and increased efficiencies. That's not the case with Chevron. The San Ramon, Calif.-based oil and gas giant is already saving several hundred million dollars in annual operating costs, thanks to its version of a digital oil field, the "i-field," shorthand for "intelligent field." And the company is on track to save up to a billion dollars a year when the i-field and a broader operational overhaul are fully implemented in 2016.

Chevron's i-field harnesses advanced technology and communications to improve performance at 40 strategic assets throughout the world, including some of its biggest and most productive oil and gas fields. The company is rolling out six to eight mission-control centers focused on separate business areas, ranging from machinery to drilling to wells and reservoirs, that monitor those assets in real-time and rely on sophisticated computer algorithms for early detection of problems. From Chevron's perspective, the i-field is now essential to its global operations, which span six continents.

[See Technology Fuels Energy Sector's Rapid Evolution.]

"There's been a technology explosion of things that have been referred to variously as digital oil field, intelligent field [and] intelligent well," says Paul Siegele, president of Chevron Energy Technology Company. The concept of a digital oil field has been evolving for a decade, but "it's really been over the last couple years where it's all come together," Siegele says.

In addition to Chevron, other companies viewed as industry pioneers for implementing their own versions of digital oil fields are Shell and ConocoPhillips. Chevron, named by U.S. News as one of America's "Most Connected" energy companies, is often heralded as the gold standard for its emphasis on NASA-style nerve centers.

Chevron's profile was raised considerably in May when the prestigious MIT Technology Review featured the company in an article about digital oil fields.

"One of the really unique things about oil and gas is simply the remoteness of the operations," says Judson Jacobs, research director at IHS CERA, an energy analysis firm. The challenge for fuel producers, he says, is to tether everything together in a way that optimizes performance.

[See From Microgrids to Smart Meters, Sempra Pushes Energy Tech.]

To overcome such hurdles, Chevron has deployed thousands of tiny sensors, only millimeters or centimeters in size, that monitor field operations and transmit data, both wired and wirelessly, back to central locations. The sensors instantaneously track pressure, temperature, and other readouts and aid with the mapping of underground fuel deposits, allowing the company to maximize production. Chevron also employs analytics to evaluate data streams in real-time from oil wells, drill rigs, ships, and elsewhere.

Chevron already has two state-of-the-art mission control facilities in Houston that specialize in drilling and machinery support, and two more, based in Lagos, Nigeria, and Covington, La., that oversee deepwater drilling.

High above Houston in an office tower, a tech-savvy team at Chevron's machinery support hub monitors thousands of pieces of equipment, in real-time, across every continent except Antarctica. Using software to analyze data transmitted by sensors, it conducts "predictive intelligence" to pinpoint when equipment, such as rotating devices called compressors, needs maintenance "so we can change out parts before they break down," Siegele says.

The team also relies on "artificial intelligence" that recognizes recurring patterns in Chevron's business operations and flags inconsistencies that might indicate signs of trouble.

[See Duke Energy Uses Charlotte as its Living Lab.]

Siegele says its mission control has already remotely identified and corrected critical problems as a result of the i-field. The machinery support center suspected that a compressor in one of the company's Asian business units was malfunctioning due to a valve failure. Diagnostics conducted on-site confirmed the breakdown, prompting work to be halted as the valve was fixed, a move that averted further damage, which Siegele concedes would have been costly.

"That single example is probably about a $4 million savings," he says. "And this kind of thing happens over and over and over again."

In a similar situation, when machinery at the company's enormous Sanha oil and gas field off the coast of Angola in Africa showed subtle signs of an irregularity, a Houston support team was the first to notice. Once again, the savings from potential damage and lost production were in the millions. There's also a safety aspect to the technology, which enables Chevron to quickly identify hazards that personnel on the ground might not see.

The combination of falling sensor prices and improved computer processing power and bandwidth has made the technology more cost-effective and attractive, Chevron's Siegele notes. As digital oil fields progress, sensors are being added to more types of equipment and are being used to gather a wider range of information, resulting in higher-quality statistics, says Jacobs, the analyst.

There has also been a marked improvement in the transmission of this content from the field to central offices, as fuel companies shift from satellite transmission, which can be sluggish due to limited bandwidth and latency, to fiber optics, which is more "reliable and robust," Jacobs adds. By comparison, in the pre-digital oil field days, less information was available, and the data that could be gathered was often assessed on-site based on experience and hunches, "rather than bringing this back and looking at it more holistically," he says.

For now, the i-field remains a work in progress. While Chevron already conducts computer simulations with employees, Siegele says it's developing a prototype based on computer games that could take the experience to another level. "This is more virtual walking through a three-dimensional space, and opening and closing valves, reading gauges," he says. Oil rig operators could train on new platforms before they've been built.

Also under consideration is the use of cameras at remote Chevron facilities to zoom in with precision on gauges, pipes, and tanks to conduct quick diagnostics when employees are not readily available. For now, these ideas are in their infancy--a lot like the digital oil field was a decade ago.

More From US News & World Report


Get stories like this on the Yahoo app and discover more every day.
Download it now.
  • Oil prices dip as focus returns to global supply overhang
    Oil prices dip as focus returns to global supply overhang Reuters - 4 minutes 48 seconds ago

    Crude prices dipped on Thursday as brimming U.S. and Asian fuel inventories returned investor attention to a large global supply overhang, cutting short a price-rally and restricting Brent crude futures to below the $50 a barrel mark. International … More »

  • Aluminium giant Rusal reports 70% net profit plunge AFP - 8 minutes ago

    Russian aluminium giant Rusal said Thursday net profit fell 70 percent in the first half of 2016, as weaknesses in global commodities markets keeps prices depressed. The cost of aluminium sank to six-year ... … More »

  • Weekend guide (26-28 Aug): Singapore Night Festival, Tanjong Goodman Weekend Market and Singapore Rhapsodies The Concert 2016
    Weekend guide (26-28 Aug): Singapore Night Festival, Tanjong Goodman Weekend Market and Singapore Rhapsodies The Concert 2016 Yahoo Newsroom - 16 minutes ago

    Do everything from planet-gazing at the Science Centre, attending the Singapore Night Festival, shopping at the Tanjong Goodman Weekend Market to catching a concert by Mando pop-rock duo Power Station and more fun events this weekend. … More »

  • Malaysia's closing tin prices for Aug 25 Reuters - 30 minutes ago

    KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 25 (Reuters) - Following is a table of Kuala Lumpur tin market prices provided by a Malaysian trader. (Prices in $/tonne, and volumes in tonnes unless stated) Date KL Premium/ Spot Bid ... … More »

  • Why It Makes Sense To Own A Credit Card From Young - 31 minutes ago

    Being financially responsible starts from a young age. The post Why It Makes Sense To Own A Credit Card From Young appeared first on … More »

  • Dollar edges lower as market awaits Yellen speech AFP - 32 minutes ago

    The dollar was barely moved Thursday ahead of a speech by Federal Reserve boss Janet Yellen that could shed light on whether a 2016 rate hike is still on the cards. With the economic calendar relatively ... … More »

  • Gabon's Bongo finds new pep on the campaign trail
    Gabon's Bongo finds new pep on the campaign trail AFP News - 1 hour 0 minutes ago

    Ali Bongo of Gabon, who is running for a second seven-year term in Saturday's presidential election, has spent more than half his 57 years cruising the corridors of power. Known variously by his initials ABO, Ali B and less flatteringly as … More »

  • Asia energy firms extend losses as oil falls
    Asia energy firms extend losses as oil falls AFP News - 1 hour 4 minutes ago

    Asian energy firms fell further on Thursday as oil extended losses, while currency traders moved cautiously the day before a key speech by Federal Reserve boss Janet Yellen. World markets have struggled to gain traction this week with few catalysts … More »

  • Indonesia finds ship that was taken by disgruntled crew Associated Press - 1 hour 14 minutes ago

    Indonesia's navy said Thursday it has located a fuel tanker that was missing for a week after being taken from port by its disgruntled crew. The navy said in a statement that the MT Vier Harmoni with 10 ... … More »

  • China's CNOOC reports $1.16 bn net loss
    China's CNOOC reports $1.16 bn net loss AFP News - 1 hour 20 minutes ago

    China's main offshore oil and gas producer CNOOC saw its shares on the Hong Kong stock exchange fall on Thursday, after it reported a $1.16 billion net loss for the first half of 2016. It was the company's first half-year loss since it started … More »

  • Marketing solutions company CtrlShift names new CEO, CFO and Malaysia Country Head
    Marketing solutions company CtrlShift names new CEO, CFO and Malaysia Country Head e27 - 1 hour 21 minutes ago

    Team to take on Southeast Asia’s digital advertising industry, expected to hit US$9.9 billion by 2025 CtrlShift, a data-driven audience-focussed marketing solutions company, has announced three new appointments to its management team. Deepika … More »

  • Asia stocks mark time before Yellen speech; dollar firm
    Asia stocks mark time before Yellen speech; dollar firm Reuters - 1 hour 25 minutes ago

    Asian stocks edged higher on Thursday but clung to recent well-worn trading ranges while the greenback held firm against regional currencies ahead of a speech by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen at a global central bankers' meeting. MSCI's … More »

  • PBOC Money-Market Tactic Has Traders Trying to Decode Signal (2) Bloomberg - 1 hour 30 minutes ago

    The People’s Bank of China sold 50 billion yuan ($7.5 billion) of 14-day reverse-repurchase agreements on Wednesday, its first offering of anything with a tenor other than seven days since February. Officials are signaling they’re ready to curb … More »

  • Asian shares waver in thin trading after Wall Street decline
    Asian shares waver in thin trading after Wall Street decline Associated Press - 1 hour 32 minutes ago

    Shares wavered in thin but volatile trading in Asia on Thursday, following a bleak day on Wall Street led by declines in health-care stocks as outrage mounts over steep price hikes for Mylan's EpiPens. ... … More »

  • This is what the world of finance really thinks of Donald Trump
    This is what the world of finance really thinks of Donald Trump Truewealth Publishing - 1 hour 36 minutes ago

    The chances are slim – somewhere between 4 and 21 percent, depending on the source – that Donald Trump will become the next president of the U.S. But as long as there’s any chance at all that he’ll become the American president (and as long as he’s … More »

  • Mobius Says Helicopter Money Will Be Japan’s Next Big Experiment Bloomberg - 1 hour 38 minutes ago

    Haruhiko Kuroda decides to act. Helicopter money is coming, says Mark Mobius, even as soon as next month. For Mobius, executive chairman of Templeton Emerging Markets Group, traditional easing measures have just made people save instead of spend … More »

  • Dollar Rally Fades as Markets Calm Before Yellen; Kiwi Advances Bloomberg - 1 hour 52 minutes ago

    The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index snapped a four-day winning streak that was fueled by hawkish comments from Fed officials. Fluctuations in the MSCI Asia Pacific Index over the past two weeks have been the most muted since 2012 and gauges of expected … More »

  • High-Speed Trader IMC Under China Stock-Index Futures Probe Bloomberg - 2 hours 11 minutes ago

    The firm has received inquiries from the China Securities Regulatory Commission related to futures trading at its Shanghai-based affiliate, said Ian Bickerton, a spokesman for IMC. Discussions between IMC and the regulator have been constructive … More »

  • Kuroda Money-Go-Round Undercuts Japan Negative-Rate Windfall (1) Bloomberg - 2 hours 23 minutes ago

    Japan’s Ministry of Finance made about 110 billion yen ($1.1 billion) more in the year to April than it would have if yields had been zero, according to Bloomberg calculations. This money-go-round shows how intertwined the finances of the BOJ and … More »

  • Two strata office floors at AXA Tower for sale from $2,550 psf
    Two strata office floors at AXA Tower for sale from $2,550 psf The Edge Property - 2 hours 34 minutes ago

    Perennial Real Estate Holdings has released two strata office floors at AXA Tower, 8 Shenton Way for sale by expression of interest (EOI). The indicative price starts from $2,550 psf, according to marketing agent JLL. … More »

  • 69 industrial units at Kaki Bukit for sale from $37.5 mil
    69 industrial units at Kaki Bukit for sale from $37.5 mil The Edge Property - 2 hours 37 minutes ago

    A portfolio of 69 strata industrial units at the Ruby Warehouse Complex has been put up for sale by public tender. According to marketing agent CBRE, the guide price for all the units combined is between $37.5 million and $38.8 million, which works … More »

  • Hong Kong’s Equity Bull Run Tires as Fed, China Concerns Return Bloomberg - 2 hours 38 minutes ago

    Speculation China’s economy is stabilized has been dashed by July data showing faltering growth. At the same time, technical indicators are signaling that the Hang Seng Index’s 25 percent ascent since February’s low was too quick. For BNP Paribas … More »

  • GCB in Dalvey Estate for sale by auction at $30 mil
    GCB in Dalvey Estate for sale by auction at $30 mil The Edge Property - 2 hours 41 minutes ago

    A 2½-storey GCB in Dalvey Estate has been put up for sale by auction. The indicative price for the house is $30 million ($1,972 psf). It is currently tenanted at a monthly rent of $26,000, with the lease expiring in August 2017.The GCB sits on … More »

  • Israeli adtech startup MassiveImpact acquired by Taiwanese GMobi
    Israeli adtech startup MassiveImpact acquired by Taiwanese GMobi e27 - 2 hours 44 minutes ago

    The Israeli company has over a billion users each month. Taiwanese sources said the acquisition price was in the tens of millions of US dollars It is not only cyber. Foreign companies also find Israeli adtech startups attractive for both investments … More »

  • China Oil Giants Unmoved by Bull Rally After Worst Earnings (1) Bloomberg - 2 hours 50 minutes ago

    PetroChina Co., the country’s biggest oil and gas company, and Cnooc Ltd., China’s main offshore explorer, reported the weakest earnings since they were both publicly listed. Oil has whipsawed this year, flipping five times between bear and bull … More »

Recent Quotes
Symbol Price Change % Chg 
Your most recently viewed tickers will automatically show up here if you type a ticker in the "Enter symbol/company" at the bottom of this module.
You need to enable your browser cookies to view your most recent quotes.
to view quotes in your portfolios.


  • Most Actives
    Most Actives
    NamePriceChange% Chg
  • % Gainers
    % Gainers
    NamePriceChange% Chg
  • % Losers
    % Losers
    NamePriceChange% Chg

Market Data

  • Currencies
    NamePriceChange% Chg
  • Commodities
    NamePriceChange% Chg
  • Bonds
    TreasuryYield (%)Yield Change