Following two years of indefatigable efforts, experts at Engineering Support and Technology Development Company (ESTD, commercially known as Tafahom) have managed to design and produce the first simulation software of Reservoir Evaluation Tools by Integrated Numerical Analysis (RETINA). Manufactured for the first time in Iran, the software is currently in service as a pilot project at all Iranian oil fields and at 12 other oil fields belonging to regional countries. In comparison with similar foreign products the software has received approval of oil and gas companies with high scores. Moreover, Retina producers are of the opinion that the now updated software enjoys unique properties and specifications that similar foreign products lack many of them. The software has been designed in a way to be fully compatible with fractured carbonated reservoirs. Retina manufacturers have defined high objectives for their domain of activity, including the production of a software with exclusive capabilities in oil and gas industry placed atop their agenda as a future program.
History of Design and Production
At the threshold of The 23rd International Oil, Gas Refining & Petrochemical Exhibition (May 6-9, 2018), Sina Mohajeri, the Board Member and Managing Director of Tafahom company, at an interview with Iran News expounded on this important and unprecedented achievement in software design and production at upstream oil industry. He said: “Production of specialized software is a very serious and quite new achievement for our country. The few software produced so far in Iran are general purpose in terms of financial and website applications. We have only a few specialized software to be functional and to meet the demands of the industry. As a group of highly motivated students from Sharif University of Technology, we started working on software production. In the beginning, we focused on fields other than oil and gas. Understanding about the fact that our oil and gas industry is in dire need of specialized software, and the fact that the government financially supports software production in this field, we came to the conclusion to begin design and production of specialized software for oil and gas industry.”He added: “It was in 2012 that we established Tafahom Company with the aim of developing dynamic simulation software for oil and gas reservoirs. We needed investment and finally we signed an agreement with Pasargad Energy Development Company (PEDC), affiliated to Pasargad Financial Group. Today, Tafahom Company is a subsidiary of this group.”
RETINA Simulation Software Production
Tafahom managing director went on to elaborate on the commencement of the activities and preparations for design and production of the Retina software. He said: “Part of the design had been already made after the establishment of the company. The general plan was ready and we had put behind the test and trial. We had a business plan but it went under certain changes in the course of time to be ready for production of the main software, i.e. Retina software or the compositional / black oil reservoir simulation software. These are the two main simulation models used in the oil and gas industry.” According to him, following production of the software, the company started collecting certifications and approvals from the subsidiaries of the National Iranian Oil Company. “That time we had no plan for selling the product. We needed the software get the required technical certification from the users. This is because the simulation software did not have an independent certifying body or a certain standard in the world, because of the limited number of products and their producers. It is interesting to know that there are only 3 or 4 producers of this highly technical software in the world. Therefore, we had to create a procedure for certification of this unique product. We proposed working on a reservoir that had already passed related studies. We also proposed running the reservoir both with our software and with a similar foreign software and at the end of the day evaluate the two products in terms of accuracy and precision. They were asked to technically certify our product if the results proved to be acceptable in terms of required technicality and performance.”Mohajeri further said: “We knew that it was hard for our customers to make believe that an Iranian company could design and manufacture sophisticated software without any access to codes, foreign sources, or foreign consultants. Therefore, in the beginning we did not claim our product was better than the similar foreign products. It was enough, that time, to accept our software at a same level with foreign products. And it was a right point to begin with. We collected technical certification from the main companies active in this field such as The National Iranian South Oil Company (NISOC) for Kerenj oil field, Iranian Central Oil Fields Company (ICOFC) for E. Paydar oil field, Iranian Offshore Oil Company (IOOC) for Doroud oil field, and Petroleum Engineering and Development Company (PEDEC) for Azadegan oil field. Based on these certifications, the NIOC Consolidated Planning Directorate approved our achievement and issued a recommendation of support. These steps helped us enter the target market inside Iran.”
Sales Market Presence
Elsewhere, Mohajeri talked about presence in the sales market. He pointed to diversified procedures of the Iranian oil companies for purchasing a product and said: “We put behind a spectrum of procedures at the NIOC subsidiary companies. The National Iranian South Oil Company announced a public tender for which we were the only participant. They signed a contract with our company in March 2017 to buy 5 copies of the software, expandable to 5 more copies, after three years of our marketing efforts. The company is committed under the contract to offer 5 years of after-sales services. We have proceeded well with Petroleum Engineering and Development Company for selling 3 copies of the software. Almost all articles of the contract and the final price have been finalized. We have even collected approvals of the IT and Security divisions. “According to Mohajeri, during the period of time the company was busy marketing its simulation software, there came opportunities for test versions to be simulated in various subsidiary companies of the National Iranian Oil Company. Thus far, over 40 real and sophisticated reservoirs in Iran have undergone simulation by Retina software. Moreover, more than 10 very large reservoirs in capacities ranging from 12 to 14 million lit. in Oman and Kuwait have gone under simulation by this software. “Therefore, it can be claimed that today, Retina has turned into a trustable name in software production for oil industry, so that all important and sophisticated fields across the country, have been once simulated with this software.”
Opining on the other products of the company, Mohajeri said: “In parallel with this product, we began production of other products for boosting the company’s income since capital return for the simulation software became rather lengthy. We have produced a static modeling software in the chain of products for upstream oil reservoir engineering. It is applied for determining initial properties of ore and fluids and the situation of the geological layers. Dynamic simulation is then carried out when all the data is obtained. The static modeling software is not on our production agenda for the time being. The principal product on our agenda is the dynamic simulator for the time being. There is another software functioning in between the two software that is responsible for transmission and management of data. It is more a key processor, a post-processor for the simulator, but it is also identified as an independent product. The software, produced under the trademark Retina Station, can be widely used in industry. It has been registered at the High Council of Informatics and Center for Digital Media and IT, and it serves as a support software for Retina Simulation software. Another product of Tafahom company, according to him, is a software designed for optimization and design of perforation jobs at oil wells in cooperation with Kish Danial Petro Co., a sister company of Tafahom company. The software is used for designing over-balance, under-balance, and dynamic under-balance perforation jobs as well as creating fractures through blade gas plaguing that is exclusive to Danial Petro Co. “The company, therefore, has three products namely Retina Simulation, Retina Station, and Job Perforation that are ready for marketing and use.”
Advantages of RETINA Products
Mohajeri, the creator of the Retina brand, then proceeded with explaining about the advantages of the products under this brand. He said: “In the beginning we embarked on production of specialized software to render services to the Iranian market, although today, foreign market has become a strategy for development for the company. The fields we are dealing with are fractured carbonated reservoirs. The behavior of these reservoirs is quite different from sandy fields in Europe and Northern America. The formulation is the same, but the type of reservoir we decide to run is different. Therefore, we have a linear equation solver in our software that is only at the disposal of a German company and an American institution. We have designed this solver exclusively that is a special method for solving linear equations. This solver is used in our software to help us solve such a reservoir with sophisticated behavior in terms of the time of implementation and sustainability of the execution procedure.”He added: “In terms of technical and physical facilities, we claim that whatever all other software solutions have for all types of fields, including methods for boosting production, for various types of wells such as horizontal, vertical, deviation, and cluster wells, our software has all options that a reservoir engineer needs to operate simulation. Retina’s software support team is always available. Unlike other companies, we send highly specialized team, even software developer, for training and troubleshooting. We even offer troubleshooting services in times of simulation. In other companies, the main developers are not accessible but we support our products and our customers fully and technically round the clock.”He went on to say: “As far as graphic works are considered, our product is competitive with foreign products. Our product is also competitive with similar foreign products in terms of technical features, solver, be it linear or non-linear, where we apply quite different technology. Live Result option enables the user to see the output in simulation. When there is need to stop the process, the software - written based on unstructured data - will support the user, while this option is absent in other foreign products.
Future of Domestic Market, Presence in Foreign Markets
Introducing Retina market as a “special market”, Mohajeri said: “An evaluation of the total demand to simulation software at the subsidiary companies of the National Iranian Oil Company showed that they need a maximum 30 copies of the software. As for next layers, including contractors or foreign companies working in Iran, the demand will be almost a few less than 30 copies. The figure seems rather odd for our company. In other countries, a company spending so much time and energy on such software faces demands of up to 100 copies. In case we supply all 30 copies to the NIOC subsidiaries, and since there is no rival company for Tafahom inside Iran and probably no rival will emerge due to the sophisticated procedures of design and production in the future, we will definitely seek signing bigger contract with NIOC, make a pack of our products and offer an unlimited copy. This will enable some NIOC subsidiaries to apply the pack as their exclusive software. They can even dictate the type of output format to the foreign companies. We are not today, far away from this target. We hope to realize this goal in a matter of 2 to 3 years, and introduce this software as a national product. “It is for a few years that the company is active in foreign markets, where Retina is a recognized brand. “We have participated in many exhibitions such as ATCE 2016 in Dubai, OGWA in Muscat, ADBIC 2016 and RCSC in Abu Dhabi. Also, we have plans to participate in EAGE exhibition in Denmark. In many countries, experts are following news of the Retina achievements. In Oman and Kuwait, the company was on a pilot project, but it is for a few months we are working on a new product to produce a software that needs no competition in price. The rival companies lack the speed of development and the speed of technological maturity we enjoy. The majority of our rivals have already gained their customers and markets and they prefer to stick to the previous projects. It was a very difficult job but a good achievement to produce three quality products in 5 years with a team of 10 to 12. We want to make full use of our capacities and technical capabilities for fast development to offer a fault free product to the international markets. Our prices are high as well. We are seriously looking after marketing this product in world markets. We had a small briefing in this product in Oman exhibition that was very influential.
Prospects and Future Programs
The managing director of Engineering Support and Technology Development company is of the opinion that the future prospect of the company is bright. “As inside Iran, we must stabilize our brand as the only simulation software in oil industry. This is the minimum thing we must realize in the near future. We are updating software technologically in some areas. For the time being, the concentration is on supporting the clients and users, in addition to producing an unrivaled software that is expected to hit the market in 2 years. “To put an end to the interview, Mohajeri said: “We are planning to create a proper international framework to complete the chain of software needed for oil industry. Putting a package of upstream oil software in our basket of products is what we are seriously working on.”
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