Why Managing It Matters
EQT’s commitment to innovation allows us to reduce resource use and maintain cost- and time-saving efficiencies across our business, from construction to production and water management. With the integration of Rice Energy assets and operations in 2018, combined with the separation of our midstream business that created a premier pure play upstream corporation, we are even better positioned to leverage and expand the reach of new production-focused technologies and ideas.
Our commitment to innovation enables EQT to adapt to the fluctuating commodity price of natural gas, changes in the regulatory environment and advances in technology. Innovation creates efficient, cost-effective processes that increase production and improve the safety and environmental impact of our operations. Our dedication to technological innovation will help us maintain our status as the largest natural gas producer in the United States.
We strongly encourage innovation throughout the organization as it is fundamental to every aspect of our business.
Real-Time Operating Centers
In 2018, EQT continued to analyze the use of data in our processes to determine where we can enhance efficiencies through technological innovation. Throughout the past two years, our investments in Real-Time Operations Centers (RTOCs) have built upon our existing systems that transmit data from field locations to office personnel to optimize our operations. Centralized teams and in-house, real-time data review have enabled teams to realize efficiencies by focusing on proactive decisions and preventative maintenance while minimizing the need for costly reactive measures.
During 2018, our operational teams made substantial progress in the development of three centers: drilling, completions and production/water operations.
The Drilling RTOC began as a two-rig pilot program in 2017 and transitioned to a fully implemented operation by mid-year 2018. At this time, 100% of bottom-hole (horizontal) rigs were operated out of the center, meaning all lateral portions of EQT’s wells were remotely drilled in the latter half of 2018. EQT is one of the first land-based operators to remotely drill 100% of our wells and, in total, EQT remotely drilled 2.1 million lateral feet during 2018. By allowing the directional drilling and real-time data review to take place side-by-side, we are fostering increased collaboration and enhanced oversight to guide responsible decision-making.
The Drilling RTOC has transformed the way we maximize asset value by providing:
- Quality data to drive decisions
- Optimized resource allocation
- Enhanced collaboration
- Reduced inefficiencies and failures
- Minimized development and production costs
Around the time that the Drilling RTOC became fully operational, EQT launched a proof of concept pilot for our Completions RTOC. This program enables our teams to see completions data instantly, communicate transparently and make real-time decisions based on available data. Throughout this pilot, we identified a significant degree of deviation in our completions design, which was not previously visible due to lack of real-time completions information. While we still have substantial work ahead to develop a fully operational Completions RTOC, this pilot allowed us to recognize the need for standardization across our well completions and helped identify best utilization practices for chemical/material usage as well as improved horsepower.
Production Control Center
We implemented the Production Control Center (PCC) in 2018 as a result of the Work Management Optimization (WMO) program. During 2017, we identified the opportunity to enhance efficiencies in the way we operated our producing wells and, in 2018, implemented software to better leverage our available workforce and equipment. In the past, our well operators worked within a specific, assigned daily route to perform well maintenance and other pertinent duties. In 2018, we utilized a software system to issue work orders on an as-needed, prioritized basis, streamlining where and when work was completed. Throughout the year, we tracked approximately 67,000 hours via work orders, which provided an accountable, trackable method of work assignment.
To reduce the amount of downtime a well with operational issues may experience at any given time, the PCC and well operators focused on providing immediate maintenance to those wells in a more efficient manner. This method reduced the average well downtime by more than 75%, ultimately allowing the well to return to production.
The PCC also manages our water operations. Natural gas development is water intensive (see Water), and the PCC schedules the delivery of water for completions activities and the pickup of produced water from well sites. Additionally, we are beginning to cross-train our employees to be fluent in both production and water operations. Through the PCC, we have been able to reduce our cost per barrel, non-productive time and staging time. This has led to 30% fewer EQT trucks on the road hauling the exact same amount of water.
In 2018, EQT’s internal innovation group piloted a new idea-sharing platform during a targeted campaign focused on artificial intelligence. This group also launched an internal digital collaboration tool to collect general ideas. Several of the ideas submitted were explored and shared with the business units for further assessment and implementation. In 2018, EQT focused on the shift from idea generation and submission to an operational excellence model, wherein innovation is encompassed in our daily evaluation and thought process for each project.
Throughout 2018, the internal innovation group focused on supporting groups across the company through facilitation rather than the implementation of specific ideas. With a specific focus on helping teams capture costs, efficiencies, process improvements and other proactive solutions, the group led more than 75 sessions across the business. Eventually, members of this group became absorbed into the asset performance and data governance teams where they have continued to focus on finding both capital and operational efficiencies. Additionally, the internal innovation group facilitated 77 creative problem-solving sessions across the company (in conjunction with the above-mentioned sessions).
In 2018, EQT’s external innovation group evaluated 151 new technologies mainly focused on: completions, production operations, drilling, water management, construction and design engineering. During this time, they initiated 11 pilot projects and ultimately incorporated three new technologies into our operations. Subsequently, the members of the external innovation team have also been integrated into business unit teams for information technology, asset optimization and the Drilling RTOC.