Field Data Capture Systems in the Canadian Market: 4 Uses for Them and Why They’re Essential

Field Data Capture Systems in the Canadian Market: 4 Uses for Them and Why They’re Essential

Every department at an E&P company is impacted in some way by the data coming out of the field, making these systems critical

Field data capture systems are critical to every oil and gas company’s success.

In this post, I’ll be outlining the four main uses of a field data capture system, the importance of implementing and maintaining the application correctly to meet each department’s needs, and how to use it as it was designed to be used.

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Use #1: Gather Production Data

A field data capture system is the main application used to gather production data. The data is collected and entered in a number ways, from electronic data capture via SCADA systems to manual entry performed by field operators.

This sounds simple enough, so why can’t spreadsheets be used to gather this data? After all, spreadsheets have been a go-to for many companies in the past. However, because of the nature and complexity of the data collected, spreadsheets aren’t a sustainable option. In Canada – and Alberta specifically – operators must follow government-mandated measurement and reporting regulations. These are outlined in detail in Directive 17 from the Alberta Energy Regulator.

Use #2: Operational Reporting

Once the data has been captured, superintendents, foremen, and operators can use it to optimize production and hone in on exceptions.

Use #3: Management Reporting

Oil and gas producers are commodities companies. They must be able to track their widgets to understand how they’re performing. The widgets I’m referring to here are barrels of oil, which, of course, translate to revenue. A well-defined and maintained field data capture system enables management to track their widgets daily and make operational decisions based on the various reports that can be generated in the system. 


Use #4: Regulatory Reporting

The monthly reporting conducted by the production accounting group utilizes the raw data in the field data capture system to report the previous month’s production to governmental bodies and third parties. This data is then used for invoicing, taxes, royalties, environmental impacts, reservoir depletion, and many other regulatory requirements based on the operator’s jurisdiction.

I’ve been associated with or supporting a field data capture application for the last 17-plus years and have discovered some common themes from the many clients I’ve supported.

  • E&P companies want the production data captured in the field to be as close to their “Actual Sales” volumes as possible.
  • The production data coming out of the field isn’t always trusted, especially if the “Estimated” data in the field data capture system doesn’t match the “Actuals.”
  • Collecting production data consistently across all fields is a constant challenge.
  • Teams are never done configuring the field data capture system to gather production data correctly. As soon as there is some type of flow change in the field, adjustments need to be made in the system to model this new flow. Because operations are dynamic, the field data capture application must be able to accommodate the changes.
  • All companies want/need to compare “Estimated” to “Budget” to “Forecast” to “Actuals” in some form or another.
  • All departments are impacted in some way by the accuracy of the data gathered in the field.
  • Data gathered in a field data capture system is utilized daily, monthly, yearly, and multi-yearly.

So is a field data capture system the same thing as a production accounting system? Can a production accounting system be used as a field data capture system? The answer to both of those questions is “No.”

A field data capture application is used to gather daily production data, which is used by operations personnel and for daily corporate reporting.  

A production accounting system utilizes the data from the field data capture system, along with financial data and contracts, to perform various reporting and split requirements monthly. Data is aggregated to a monthly value and assimilated as such. 

While they use the same information, these systems are used for different purposes and in different ways. Trying to combine the two introduces a level of complexity that is both undesirable and unnecessary.

So What Should E&P Companies Do? 

Here’s what my team and I recommend…

  • Due to the stringent nature of the Canadian regulatory environment, keep your field data capture and production accounting processes separate. These systems are made-for-purpose and if designed correctly will work great for their purpose but not so great if they’re made to do what they weren’t designed for.
  • Put a knowledgeable support staff in place to maintain the system. 
  • Choose a system that can handle the complexity of the data required as per Directive 17 and a resource who knows the system and can configure it correctly. Your field data capture system is only as good as the person implementing it. 

If there’s a lack of application or industry knowledge, there will be issues with the accuracy of the data provided by the system. No technology can trump knowledge and understanding. At least not yet…

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Watch this webinar to see how a field data capture system can help you overcome data-integrity issues and maximize field operators’ efficiency.

About The Author
Bob Blomme has been working in the oil and gas industry for 23-plus years and with field data capture systems for the past 17 years. He holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Saskatchewan. A husband and father of three boys and a girl, Bob is the president of his own consulting company, Sunset Solutions Consulting.

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