Pain points, BOPs and enthusiasm for Big Data

Scott Weeden

February 1, 2017

Scott Weeden drills down with NOV’s Hege Kverneland to find out why she is excited about using Big Data to predict component failures before they occur.


Just how exciting is Big Data? If you talk to Hege Kverneland, NOV’s chief technology officer, she will tell you that Big Data will change both how the company and industry work.

“Outside our industry, Big Data is really market intelligence. Walmart probably knows what I’m going to buy before I know it,” she laughs. While that’s not her main focus, Kverneland is focused on an application called condition-based maintenance (CBM). “We can use Big Data and the computer capacity we have now to transform how we work.”

For example, NOV can now predict which valve in its blowout preventer (BOP) stack will fail at least 14 days in advance. If the company can predict that, then the operator and drilling contractor can plan downtime better.

The BOP has an overlay showing the status of the component. Photo by Katy Weintritt; provided by NOV.

“If the BOP fails, we need to lift it up, replace the part and lower it down again, in the worst case. If we can avoid taking it up and then down again just one time, that can be a lot of money saved,” she explains.

NOV started work on CBM for its BOPs more than a year ago. “Instead of saying we want to do this on all the equipment, we’re focusing on the BOP. We have legacy data from our own BOPs from 14 years back. We’ve taken all that data, focused on one well and one failure mode, which we can then identify,” Kverneland says.

The company is working very systematically, taking on one component at a time. NOV started with its subsea BOPs since there are some really big cost savings in offshore operations.

“We’re also looking at putting this technology on all our drilling machinery—top drives, drawworks, mud pumps and pipe handling equipment. But we needed to focus on the biggest pain points at the beginning. Then we will add all the other components,” she adds. The company will also begin using Big Data for both drilling and production optimization.

NOV’s customer portal for BOP condition monitoring. Images from NOV.

There are five or six major failure parts that the company has focused on. “We can never guarantee that we will always predict the failure before it actually happens. It will never be 100% accurate, but we will be able to say that we can reduce it tremendously,” she says.

Kverneland’s excitement about Big Data can be heard in her voice. But, how can that excitement spread to others in the company and its customers? Money, of course.

“To get the best use of their equipment by making sure that uptime is much better will hopefully save the industry a lot of money in the future. I believe Big Data will be more important on offshore installations. It will help on land, but offshore it will really help us reduce the cost,” she says.

The engineers are very excited, and they see that this is an opportunity for NOV. “In order to make a lot of people excited about it, we need to be able to make money on it. It is difficult to get a lot of people excited just because it is new technology. It needs to be a business benefit. We cannot just make it better for the drilling contractors and operators, we also need to make it beneficial for the company,” she says.

“I’m convinced this will be a win-win-win for the industry. It will be a win for us, a win for the drilling contractor and a win for the operator,” she emphasizes.

Kverneland has been with NOV for more than 20 years, starting in 1991. The original company has been purchased, acquired or merged at least four or five times. She took a three-year break in 1998-2000 and came back to the company. “Most people that have grey hair have been with the company for a while. I have grey hair,” she laughs.