Is your Oil field being exploited at its best?

A typical question for a Petroleum Field Manager is how well the asset is being exploited and if this exploitation is efficient and generates enough value for Operator and Partners. This article explores some answers based on our understanding of the challenges that appear throughout the life of the field, and to how to be prepared to transform them into opportunities.

Integrated Choke Model 

An Oil field at any moment in its life has a potential, that is, the maximum capacity to deliver production. This capacity is controlled by many variables integrated in five blocks or chokes, such as reservoir characteristics, wells deliverability, handling capacity of the facilities and the export system, and commercial restrictions. The following schematic is a representation of what constitutes an Integrated Choke Model (ICM). 

Every team working on the asset understands the capacity and performance of the area under their responsibility. Investing in a new platform does not make sense if there are no petroleum reserves that would pay for it. In the same way, investing in an infill drilling program must be accompanied by the proper investments to adapt the capacity of the other chokes. And finally, checking the commercial terms and conditions and other non-technical constraints is crucial to make sure that any expense will generate the necessary income to improve the cash flow of the asset and guarantee its sustainability. 

The overall comprehension of the model is fundamental to activate the right balances, the right decisions, and the right timing for their implementation, to maximize the most important performance indicator during turbulent low-price times: the free cash flow. 

The Field Performance 

The field potential at the reservoir level is the total sum of the individual well potentials, assuming that they are optimised in the current condition of the entire system. It is a reference that allows to focus the efforts of the asset teams towards reaching the optimum deliverability. This potential is increased or decreased when new generating activities are performed (new wells and well interventions) and/or when the wells decline (mechanical decline, pressure decline), respectively. Continuous estimation of the field potential is a necessary activity for reservoir and production engineers to have the basis to which confront the reality and check for the gap with respect to the production deliverability. 

The ratio of production and potential (operational efficiency) provides a reference comparable amongst fields and is the basis to diagnose and troubleshoot the field and prioritize actions. 

Deferred Production 

The difference in between potential and current deliverability is called Deferred Production. It can be differentiated in two main categories, Planned, and Unplanned. The planned deferred production is associated, in general, to activity programs of the necessary maintenance of facilities. The unplanned are unexpected failures of components of the system.  

Deferred Production has two dimensions, the impact, and its duration. The first, associated to the number of facilities affected (wells, platforms, etc) and the severity of the failure; the second, a function of the capability of the team to restablish production after the failure. 

Anticipating and responding quickly are key to keeping the total deferred production as low as possible.  

Identifying Opportunities 

Increasing the field deliverability should not be an objective for its own sake, but rather in order to increase the value of the asset, its free cash flow and its sustainability. 

Every member of the asset team must participate and bring ideas on the identification of opportunities and on how to improve the different variables affecting the chokes, their realistic associated cost, and their probability of success. 

Having a proper analysis of the different combination of options and estimating their economic impact is required to make the best decisions. 

A series of key elements must be assessed when creating opportunities for wells, facilities, export and even, commercial improvements. They are common to all the different chokes: 

  • Measurements and Data 
  • Operational Technology 
  • Modeling 
  • Work Processes 
  • People and Organisation 

Measurements and Data

Digitalisation is a key component in obtaining the data necessary to assess the impact of proposed improvements. 

Likewise, it is important that your assessment considers the proper investment on sensors, data transmission, collection and storage, data visualisation and analysis tools, as well as device maintenance and training on the use of digital tools. 

Not all digitalisation investments can be justified, but a minimum of real time process information from reliable, frequent, and calibrated measurements will help you to anticipate and better respond to the challenges that lay ahead in operations. 

Make sure you insist on the data that is needed, the KPIs, the analyses to be performed, and make them part of your daily track record. 


An integrated choke model, its understanding and the identification of opportunities is paramount to identifying the gaps between the delivery and the field potential. Identifying improvements in the quest to make the field profitable in a low oil price environment is a responsibility of every team member. 

Good Leadership and a shared integrated vision will create the perfect balance for the best ideas to flourish. 

Check out how Wintershall Dea is using Eigen Ingenuity to have access to the latest field data in order to make the best decisions in Operations. 

In our next Blog we will expand on the role of Operational Technology, Modeling, Work Processes and the Organisation in optimising field efficiency and improving the free cash flow. 

Joel Chacon - Eigen

written by

joel chacon


Cesar Perez Montaner

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