Digital industry transformation underway in Saudi Arabia

Oct 29, 2017
7 min read
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Nick Nawfal, Geo-Market vice president for Saudi Arabia and Bahrain at Baker Hughes, a GE company speaks exclusively to Pipeline Magazine’s Nadia Saleem about the how the company will support Saudi Vision 2030 with knowledge sharing in technology and drive operational efficiency with a digital industry transformation

What aspects of Saudi oil and gas development will BHGE play a role in and how?

Baker Hughes, a GE company (BHGE) marks the integration of two powerhouses that have had a historic presence in the Kingdom supporting the oil and gas industry. In addition to building on our strong footprint and over 80 years of presence in the Kingdom, we continue to leverage our position as a full-stream company that works across the upstream, midstream and downstream segments. The combination of GE Oil & Gas and Baker Hughes to form BHGE in fact complements the vision of Saudi Arabia, underlined by Saudi Vision 2030, as we work to achieve transformational growth through increased productivity, operational efficiency and asset use optimisation. From innovating new technology to improving efficiency in every step – from the reservoir to the refinery – we can support our partners in Saudi Arabia to achieve unprecedented levels of efficiency and productivity. We have over 2,600 employees working across oilfield services, oilfield equipment, turbomachinery & process solutions and digital solutions, and continue to expand our manufacturing footprint that is supporting localised innovation, talent development and the growth of SME’s.

How will BHGE support Saudi Aramco operations to increase productivity?

This is the era of digital, and we believe that digital industrial transformation is a real and tangible opportunity to achieve unprecedented levels of operational efficiency, productivity, and asset optimisation.

It covers the entire value chain, and the value-add that our partners and customers can derive out of it, is tremendous. Saudi Aramco is a long-term partner of BHGE, and the differential that we bring in increasing productivity is our full-stream capability and the integration of our equipment, services and digital strengths.

We are helping our partners not just in new fields but also in brownfield ventures, monitoring wells, ensuring faster drilling and completion of wells, as well as the use of chemical solutions for better flow. Further, through advanced data analytics, we can help increase production and operational efficiency, while reducing downtime.

What knowledge sharing will take place for Saudi sustainability?

BHGE continues to invest in addressing the industry’s toughest challenges, which means investing heavily in research and innovation, strengthening its local workforce to develop skilled talent and contributing to the efficient-use and long-term sustainability of Saudi’s natural resources.

We currently have over 15 ongoing long-term research and development projects that address industry challenges in Saudi Arabia as well as a team of experts working with King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals and Saudi Aramco that are developing solutions for the Kingdom and the rest of the world. BHGE is also collaborating with Saudi Aramco to undertake the digital transformation of Aramco’s operations with the goal of generating productivity improvements across assets.

To enable this transformation, GE will provide a private Predix Industrial IoT cloud, GE’s pioneering APM and industry-specific applications, and staff a Digital Transformation Office up to with local industrial engineers, process experts, and technologists.

The DTO is expected to generate 250 high-tech Saudi jobs and stimulate local economic demand for an additional 500 digital industrial careers. We will be working within the Saudi Vision 2030 framework to create a STEM educational curriculum for high schools and universities to develop Saudi Digital Industrial talent to meet future demand for software developers and data scientists. Similarly, we have contributed over US$15 million of technical software to King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) to develop the next generation of innovators.

Our JewelSuite reservoir modelling software will enhance teaching, learning and research at the university. This technology simplifies modelling and allows students to quickly build accurate 3D models, regardless of the reservoir’s structural complexity. Students and faculty can obtain a clearer picture of the subsurface and predict how much oil or gas might exist in a given location. They can also create complex 3D models of underground oil reservoirs and integrate those models into engineering solutions.

The software also lets users analyse subsurface data and provides refined tools to see the impact of different types of completions and stimulation techniques, such as hydraulic fracturing, on models they have created to determine the most productive zones for fracture treatments.

What operations will BHGE undertake to support building a local supply chain?

We have a strong localised presence, highlighted by our advanced manufacturing facilities that are creating jobs, promoting research and economic growth.

For instance, our Drill Bit Manufacturing Plant makes the bits entirely in the Kingdom from powder and these drill bits are exported to over 40 countries. Our Pressure Control Facility has tripled in size to meet local demand requirements, and in the past year we have delivered 12 locally manufactured aero-derivative gas turbines from the GE Manufacturing & Technology Center, which has been nurturing Saudi SMEs that supply parts.

We are proud of our local capacities, which also include a Chemical Blending Plant, four service workshops, and a dedicated research centre in Dhahran Techno Valley. Our contributions have also been recognised by Saudi Aramco during the first anniversary of the launch of the In-Kingdom Total Value Add (IKTVA) Excellence Awards when we were awarded the honour of ‘Best in Supplier Development’.

Further, we have announced an exciting new initiative, partnering with Saudi Aramco and Cividale SpA to build the MENA region’s first-of-its-kind, world-class Forging & Casting Manufacturing Facility, which will supply the Kingdom and global markets with forged and cast materials serving the Marine and Energy industries. With a total investment of $400 million, the facility will be operational by 2020 and create over 2,000 new local jobs.

With such long-term initiatives in place, BHGE is committed to the development and growth of the Saudi supply chain ecosystem.

What BHGE technologies will play a key role for Saudi Aramco?

The GCC region is an early adopter of the latest technologies, and Saudi Arabia is no exception. Everything we have in our portfolio, from products to services is readily available and is fully implemented in the Kingdom.

We collaborate with our partners on projects that boost productivity through the deployment of advanced solutions. For instance, BHGE installed the first TransCoil rigless-deployed electrical submersible pump system in the Khurais Field in Saudi Arabia, a technology that was developed in partnership with Saudi Aramco. This next-generation, coiled tubing-deployed electrical submersible pump (ESP) system eliminates the need for a rig to install and retrieve ESPs–dramatically reducing intervention costs and downtime.

We are also pioneering our first Asset Performance Management (APM) solution to reside on Saudi Aramco’s business network for the Aramco Jazan Complex Integrated Manufacturing Operations Management System. This will be deployed on industrial assets, and will support the reliability and integrity of the assets, providing tools for analysis and strategy development, and assuring greater operational excellence.

Today, only 3-5 per cent of oil and gas equipment is connected. There is so much opportunity to do more, and better. We will therefore also focus on leveraging our digital industrial solutions for strengthening the operational efficiency and productivity of assets. Our leading technology and access to the “GE Store” of knowledge, experience and research mean that we can bring new solutions to market faster.

Possessing capabilities across the full value chain of oil and gas activities—from upstream to midstream to downstream, BHGE will support Saudi Aramco in further driving productivity, while minimising costs and risks.


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