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bpx energy Uses AWS to Edge Closer to a Net-Zero Ambition

2020

bpx energy, energy company bp’s US-based onshore oil and gas business, was looking to achieve more environmentally responsible oil and gas production—but its legacy operations technology infrastructure was holding it back. Grant Matthews, chief technology officer at bpx energy, was more than ready to overcome the obstacles.
 
"We were hampered by expensive operations. We had limited skills availability, and we had disparate localized datasets and different management information capabilities,” Matthews notes. “We couldn’t show our business leaders our assets’ production in a common format until days after the fact. To run our business successfully, we needed to move to a more real-time paradigm.”
 
Using a group of solutions from Amazon Web Services (AWS), bpx energy not only achieved real-time intelligence but also built a new, fully cloud-based operations technology infrastructure and optimized operations using machine learning (ML). The results were lower operating expenses, maximized production, and decreased methane emissions, supporting bp’s ambition to become a net-zero company by 2050 or sooner.
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“The key benefits of adopting AWS Control Tower included enhancing bpx energy’s security posture, enabling enterprise governance at scale, and providing increased scalability.”

Grant Matthews
Chief Technology Officer, bpx energy

“Our Vision Required a Change by a Factor of 10, Not an Incremental Move”

bpx energy oversees bp’s onshore oil and gas operations in the contiguous United States. The business is focused on innovation in energy production: as Matthews explains, “The X in bpx stands for exploration—both exploring in the traditional sense but also exploring for new ideas and methods to fundamentally improve the business.”
 
In 2017, bpx energy saw an opportunity to improve its operations technology infrastructure. Its central office and four business units, all located in different US states, each had at least one field-based operations center that was responsible for its own costs of operation and for the employee hours required to operate the supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) hosts and historians. The technology ran on 27 different manufacturers’ combinations of remote terminal units and SCADA management hosts, all with different contracts. The whole infrastructure sat on locally managed information technology systems that required hundreds of employees to manage them.

While real-time data was critical to the company’s future goals, the systems made that difficult. The fragmented on-premises infrastructure simply didn’t support the company-wide connectivity needed for instant data reporting.
 
“Our vision required a change by a factor of 10, not an incremental move,” says Matthews. He believed migrating to the cloud was an “inevitable reality” for bpx energy because of the cloud’s flexibility, scalability, and accessibility. “We needed real-time data,” says Matthews. “We needed ML solutions to help drive the optimization of operations.” bpx energy sought a cloud services provider, and AWS checked all the boxes.

Achieving Real-Time Data and Beyond

Initially, bpx energy planned to add traditional operations technology to its cloud infrastructure one area at a time. Using AWS services, it built an initial version of industrial Internet of Things (IoT) cloud capabilities, which included the development of its first set of intelligent operations tooling and ML for production predictions and warehouse optimization.
 
In 2018, the company moved its headquarters from Houston, Texas, to Denver, Colorado, an opportunity to leave the on-premises system completely behind. In the same year, bpx energy acquired multinational mining company BHP’s North American oil field assets—a $10.5 billion deal that added 190,000 barrels of oil and gas production per day, bp’s largest acquisition in 20 years. “This monumental change was the catalyst we really needed to pivot our technology strategy entirely to the cloud-based stack,” says Matthews.

Collaborating with solutions architects from AWS, bpx energy began constructing a complete cloud data system that consolidated its SCADA systems and historians into a cloud data lake. The business used the data lake to optimize operations through ML and gather real-time edge intelligence at its oil wells. The new infrastructure required a complex array of AWS services, including the early adoption of AWS Control Tower, which provides the easiest way to set up and govern a secure multiaccount AWS environment. “The key benefits of adopting AWS Control Tower included enhancing bpx energy’s security posture, enabling enterprise governance at scale, and providing increased scalability,” says Matthews.

Amazon SageMaker, a fully managed ML service, was key to achieving bpx energy’s goal of gathering real-time data from its oil fields. Previously, the company had been unable to run ML due to legacy hardware and low bandwidth in the field. Amazon SageMaker provided virtually unlimited computational horsepower to quickly develop ML algorithms.

bpx energy then paired Amazon SageMaker and AWS IoT Greengrass—a service that seamlessly extends AWS to edge devices to enable them to act locally on the data they generate. Based on oil well data generated by Amazon SageMaker, AWS IoT Greengrass can signal employees to act in real time—for example, if a technician needs to make a manual intervention like an equipment set point change. The service can also perform automated control responses, like emergency shutdowns.

Matthews says that the benefits of adopting AWS services continue to ripple across bpx energy. Information and operations technology ownership costs significantly less while providing the company improved cybersecurity, a greater capability for real-time artificial intelligence control and optimization, and a more efficient data flow for business intelligence. Best of all, bpx energy now has real-time data solutions that enable engineers or algorithms to make immediate decisions.

Creating a Net-Zero World

In February 2020, bp set its ambition to become a net-zero company by 2050 or sooner. “This will reshape our business as bp pivots from an international oil company focused on producing resources to an integrated energy company focused on delivering solutions to customers,” says Matthews. By 2030, bp plans to scale up its investment in low carbon by a factor of 10, increase its renewable energy by a factor of 20 to reach 50 gigawatts, and cut emissions from carbon associated with upstream oil and gas production by up to 40 percent.
 
“Our collaboration with leaders such as AWS is an important part of delivering on this strategy,” says Matthews. “We hope to inspire and encourage this ambition in others. We believe our new strategy provides a comprehensive and coherent approach to turn our net-zero ambition into action. This coming decade is critical for the world in the fight against climate change. Driving the necessary change in global energy systems will require action from everyone.”

About bpx energy

bpx energy oversees bp’s onshore oil and gas operations in the contiguous United States. bp is a global energy company with wide reach across the world’s energy system.

Benefits of AWS

  • Reduced information and operations technology ownership costs
  • Strengthened cybersecurity
  • Used real-time data solutions to enable engineers or algorithms to make immediate decisions
  • Integrated multiple business units into a unified data environment
  • Increased scalability


AWS Services Used

AWS Control Tower

AWS Control Tower provides the easiest way to set up and govern a new, secure, multi-account AWS environment based on best practices established through AWS’ experience working with thousands of enterprises as they move to the cloud.

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Amazon SageMaker

Amazon SageMaker helps data scientists and developers to prepare, build, train, and deploy high-quality machine learning (ML) models quickly by bringing together a broad set of capabilities purpose-built for ML.

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AWS IoT Greengrass

AWS IoT Greengrass is an Internet of Things (IoT) open source edge runtime and cloud service that helps you build, deploy, and manage device software.

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