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How PGS optimized the speed of seismic surveying vessels

PGS used Industrial DataOps provided by Cognite, including Cognite Data Fusion®, to give seismic vessel operators a clear overview of the factors that determine a vessel’s optimal operating speed.

The solution cuts production time by more than 15 days and saves more than $2 million a year.


Increase speed of seismic surveying vessels without jeopardizing the seismic acquisition operation or vessel integrity

PGS provides seismic images and 3D data describing the subsurface beneath the ocean floor. This work is conducted using vessels that tow kilometers-long GeoStreamer cables equipped with underwater multisensor technology behind them. The sensors pick up energy pulses that are fired from the vessel as they reflect from the ocean floor. This data is then analyzed to reveal the structures of the subsurface.

Steering one of the world’s largest moving objects through waves and currents while at the same time allowing for sufficient recording of seismic data is challenging, and there are several different factors restricting the production speeds.

Through its vessel digitalization initiative, PGS Proteus, PGS aims to increase operational efficiency by using and combining available data. In this specific case, PGS saw an opportunity to combine the factors that influence a vessel’s optimal operating speed into a single easily accessible tool. This would provide transparency and the ability to identify which factors has the largest impact on the production speed.

A vessel speed optimization tool would also enable PGS to optimize seismic surveying in real time and improve on or even remove speed-restricting factors, helping the company reduce costs while maintaining a high level of quality.

There is a strong link between acquisition speed, efficiency, and value creation. For the project planning and bidding process, it is of great importance to know both the potential for daily revenue and the planned duration of a survey. With better tools in place to document historical achievements, better, data-driven decisions can be made more quickly.

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Data-driven reports and dashboards for vessel crews and onshore experts

PGS and Cognite worked together to streamline data ingestion pipelines between Cognite Data Fusion® and the systems containing data relevant to calculate the optimal speed of seismic vessels.

Using the Cognite Power BI connector and self-service training provided by Cognite Academy, PGS’ subject-matter experts developed Power BI reports combining vessel sensor and operational data. These reports have given unprecedented insight into the details of vessel production performance.

PGS’ subject-matter experts have also developed an onboard vessel speed dashboard, building and iterating with vessel crews to create the best visualizations for their use. The dashboard combines data from the most relevant systems representing the various restricting factors. The different inputs are transformed and presented to the vessel crews, indicating whether a further speed increase is recommended.

The speed-related data is automatically transmitted to shore for ingestion into Cognite Data Fusion™. The dashboards are used in onshore project planning, and PGS is working toward making the information more available to the vessels as well.


Faster surveys, more automation

PGS’ vessel crews have for years been monitoring and pushing production speed upwards. Particularly PGS' powerful Ramform Titan-class vessels have shown their potential for speed increase. With the vessel dashboard in place, the crews’ job has become easier, removing parts of the manual process and supporting decision-making. The input data for further analysis has also improved in consistency.

While achieved speed varies between surveys, PGS has seen a marked improvement in the maximum acquisition speeds since implementing the vessel speed dashboard. In the fall of 2020, PGS’ three fastest surveys showed an average speed increase of 5.5% compared with the three fastest surveys in 2019.

PGS is now in a better position to make further improvements moving towards machine learning and automated speed control. One of the company’s main focuses for 2021 is to work reliably at level four on the 10-point Sheridan-Verplank scale of automation, where the computer suggests optimal bottom speed. Once this is in place, PGS is aiming to reach level seven, where the computer executes the speed control and reports to the crew.

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