Sebastien Grau, Regional Sales Director Middle East & Sub Saharan Africa, Rockwell Automation talks to Julian Walker about why digital transformation could provide massive opportunities for oil and gas companies
What kind of digital transformation is the oil and gas industry facing?
Today, digital transformation presents massive potential for oil and gas companies, both onshore and offshore. The oil and gas industry requires a flexible environment to stay competitive. Making important investments in these technologies will ensure that companies in this sector have a solid platform in place to benefit especially from improved health, safety, and environmental performance. Digital technologies provide companies with better access to analytics tools and digital ways of working that help companies to better handle their data. Digitalising logistics planning will also ensure that vehicles show up on time and with the correct equipment.
Many innovative approaches are being explored in the oil and gas industry to improve overall performance and safety on rigs. The companies that are introducing these technologies and are building a connected digital oilfield are eliminating risk scenarios. There is a lot of learning involved and new ideas will continue to persuade operators to step up their game in technology innovation. At Rockwell Automation we encourage our clients to engage in digital transformation early, align the trends we see every day across your organisation, and develop comprehensive strategies to adopt these changes correctly.
What impact will COVID-19 have on companies looking to implement digitalisation in the energy sector?
The energy sector is severely affected by this crisis, which has slowed transport, trade and economic activity across the globe. Electricity demand is down significantly in many territories and the market for transport fuel has shrunk dramatically, as planes are grounded and movement restricted. The global oil industry is experiencing the biggest shock in its history, so oil and gas companies should implement solutions for automated adaptive planning and scheduling of production, logistics and service processes.
As per IEA, the implications of the pandemic for energy systems and clean energy transitions are still evolving but three areas in particular stand out:
Now, companies must start thinking strategically about how they will adapt as the pandemic and markets evolve. The experience of COVID-19 will almost certainly accelerate momentum towards new ways of working, automation and digitalisation. Companies that are further along the curve in digitising their operations have already benefited from greater built-in resiliency during the crisis, reducing dependence on human resources. Greater investments in these areas will equip companies to maintain better business continuity in their supply chains, operations and customer management, reducing the load on their workforces. The businesses that lack a robust digital backbone or an online presence have struggled. The move to shift infrastructure from traditional data centres to the cloud, or a mix of on-premises and cloud computing, is already showing signs of acceleration.
The COVID-19 crisis has created a unique opportunity for digital professionals to apply creative thinking beyond the realms of comfort for most businesses – especially those that are more averse to change and risk.
Do you feel greater digital transformation will come about due to the market shifts brought on by COVID-19?
Yes, business leaders today are rightly focused on the huge business continuity challenges posed by COVID-19. Unsurprisingly, the organisations that were furthest down the digital transformation journey before COVID-19 struck are tending to adapt to the crisis better than their peers. Their business models and working processes meant that they were able to pivot more rapidly or accelerate changes already underway. Many businesses are already rethinking how to introduce greater virtualisation into many aspects of the business. Technological transformation will also have been given a boost by the experience of virtualisation and new ways of working by staff during the pandemic lockdown. It is likely to accelerate the move to a more mobile workforce, able to work virtually and at distance. Companies will want to consider what worked well during the crisis and look at the opportunities for future workforce productivity and flexibility.
How is Rockwell Automation helping oil and gas companies prepare for the digital transformation?
At Rockwell Automation, we believe that a Connected Enterprise is the key to success, and achieving one involves driving the decisions and actions that bring together people, processes and technology. When we combine the strengths of technology with an enthusiastic and engaged workforce, a lot is possible. We always encourage extreme cohesion from the top down. And as oil and gas companies need a flexible environment to stay competitive, Rockwell Automation’s role is to guide companies as they integrate digital solutions that can maximise the recovery of existing reserves, optimise production, and reduce downtime.
What technologies are you focused on in particular?
Rockwell Automation offers a wide range of technologies to meet the challenges faced by today’s industry. The PlantPAx system is one such technology, helping companies make better and faster decisions by enabling manufactures to respond more quickly to the demands of the customer and fast-changing specifications. This modern DCS uses a common automation platform for seamless integration between critical areas of the plant, and helps companies to drive productivity, increase efficiencies and reduce costs.
We also focus on the FactoryTalk Analytics platform. This technology is a bundled offering that includes FactoryTalk Analytics DataView, FactoryTalk Analytics DataFlowML, and FactoryTalk Analytics Edge. With FactoryTalk Analytics, our clients gain scalable analytics from the edge to enterprise and can ingest data from many different sources. FactoryTalk Analytics provides our clients with self-service machine learning and data mashups for collaborative data analysis.
This interview first appeared in the July issue of Pipeline Magazine
By: Uwe Troeger, Senior Executive Vice President of Digital Industries, Siemens Middle East
If there’s one winner to emerge from the devastating toll of COVID-19, it’s technology, and those victors are well known. The giant internet companies connecting us to each other and to our online shopping carts. Cloud providers enabling most office workers to continue business, while industrial technology companies keeping factories, infrastructure and energy facilities running.
Oil, gas and petrochemical companies have come under pressure due to collapse of demand during the pandemic. Still, they stand to benefit from prudent investments that digitalise their industry. Unlike many consumer goods, aerospace, automotive and pharmaceutical industries, oil and gas producers have been more hesitant in their digitalisation journey. Some producers are reluctant to allocate capital to projects that won’t show returns for years. Others are concerned about sharing data and cybersecurity, reinforcing the industry’s preference for tech conservatism.
Market forces is solidifying this conservatism for some producers. Even before crude’s unprecedented plunge to negative values in April, the consensus forecast was that prices would be “lower for longer.” The latest declines are further straining energy companies and may jeopardise nascent digitalisation efforts that lower lifecycle costs, optimise output and protect the planet.
Enter the ‘Digital Twin’
The slow pace of technology adoption in the energy industry isn’t uniform, and many oil and gas companies, especially in the Middle East, are on the cutting edge of digitalisation and devote considerable resources to technology. Most innovations in the sector today, from exploration to downstream projects, are aimed at squeezing maximum value from each barrel. Switching out old equipment and installing sensors that allow for real-time production optimisation are some examples of the quick upgrades to brownfield assets.
But the greatest promise lies in technology that isn’t widely adopted, yet. Digital twins are long established in the industrial world, and proving to be even more useful as the remote operation and servicing of critical oil and gas infrastructure become integral to current operating environments. This software solution allows energy companies to create virtual copies that emulate their plants, providing operators a comprehensive and accurate assessment of their assets.
Developing a digital twin is a key step toward connecting the virtual and real production worlds of the digital enterprise. By deepening the integration of automation hardware and software, producers not only collect and process data from machines and plants, but they can turn the information into a competitive advantage. The deeper the integration, the better the outcome.
Today’s tools are often specialised for specific tasks and may lack the connectivity that would enable the easy comparison and cross-reference of asset information. Engineering tools work well during the design and build phases but are less suited in operation and maintenance. Functional information is disconnected from 3D designs used when building a plant, even though these designs could provide excellent context for operations training, maintenance task planning, troubleshooting and decision-making during crises. So-called ‘dark data’ which is untagged and unlinked information stored in PDFs, drawings or paper documents, and electronic data in legacy systems are rarely accessible in current control portals.
In order to mitigate the disconnect, a new approach is needed that combines operations intelligence, simulation, asset performance management, and artificial intelligence platforms in a sensible yet powerful way to make complex information more accessible and comprehensible to decision makers. Real-time data – accessed via a secure cloud-based solution in a single platform – can help operators make more confident decisions, act faster, and ultimately increase operations performance and safety.
My company Siemens, along with our partners at Bentley Systems, have developed a solution we call PlantSight, which merges digital twins with both physical reality and engineering data, creating a holistic digital context for any operating plant. This allows for immediate access to consistent representations of the most complex production facilities, and is especially useful to accelerating the time and effort needed to federate and complete asset information for brownfield installations.
Here’s how this approach would help improve a typical oil and gas production facility or petrochemical plant. Data, which is constantly generated, has historically been collected in various databases and paper files and then stored somewhere, at headquarters or on location. PlantSight takes all these data, including ‘dark data,’ and merges them into a portal that provides a rich visual experience that covers the complete lifecycle of assets.
An operational snapshot of overall production and equipment health indicators such as reliability, maintenance and health, are clearly visualised, and users can quickly view anomalies at individual assets. Historic data like false starts, missed preventative maintenance and alarms are easily accessed, and operators can determine if, for example, a plugged filter is the likely cause of low lube oil pressure, and then send a maintenance team to resolve the issue. Schematics and 3D models are also embedded in the system, making the portal a one-stop solution.
This digital twin system is designed to be enabled without disrupting the existing physical or virtual environment, which is crucial when critical industries are operating at heightened capacity. When engineering or maintenance trouble shoot an operational issue or need to start a modification project, they lose precious time when trying to determine the current status and performance of the asset before starting their actual work because often, the asset information is missing or inaccurate. Functional, operational and 3D spatial information, coupled with accurate information on spare parts, has proven to shorten project duration and ‘mean time to repair,’ thus lowering operational and capital expenditures.
The post COVID-19 lockdown phase will be characterised by economic uncertainty, repeated disruption to labour and supply chains, and for energy companies, low oil and gas prices. As the energy industry prepares for this new era, technologies that reduce operating costs and prolong the life of existing assets will feature more prominently in investment budgets. Digital twins are poised to become integral systems needed to operate efficient, safe and reliable oil, gas and chemical facilities.
This interview first appeared in the July issue of Pipeline Magazine
Alistair Stubbs, Vice President of Asset Information & Reliability at Bentley Systems, spoke to Julian Walker about how the industry is changing in light of COVID-19 and how this will lead to greater digitalisation and the important role digital twins can play in all of this
The events surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on the oil and gas industry and will lead to a faster adoption of digital technology.
“I think it is a big transition time for the oil and gas industry. We are already seeing the shakeout from COVID. The industry is changing, efficiency is going to come to the forefront and COVID has given it an extra push. The next 6 months are going to be key,” said Stubbs.
Stubbs explained that one of the main things he is seeing in the market is a relentless push for digitalisation.
“This is a bit of a recognition that in many ways the oil and gas market doesn’t feel that they have taken advantage of the technology that is out there. The big shift is that the technology is there now for companies to take advantage of, and digital twins is one such technology.”
According to Stubbs, Bentley Systems’ core digital twin offering for the oil, gas and process manufacturing industries is PlantSight.
“PlantSight currently has three levels, for those that want to maintain the engineering information, then expand the range and depth of information in the digital twin (alignment and aggregation) and ﬁnally for those that want to operate their plant through the digital twin.”
He added: “Bentley’s digital twins is more than just a 3D image, and it has a much broader scope. We at Bentley push the plural for digital twins, because we feel different users will have different needs for digital twins; the uses for the process twin will be different from the uses for the production twin.”
Greater digitalisation is having a big impact on the use of digital twins, as Stubbs explained.
“One big change brought on by digitalisation is that companies will now invest to keep a particular model updated and in order to keep the digital twin, whether it is a performance or condition one, up to date they will need to invest in the tools, technology and people to achieve that. With digitalisation oil and gas companies have realised that they can make huge efficiency gains from sites if they can have consistent access to reliable and up-to-date asset information through digital twins.”
Stubbs went into more detail about two aspects of digitalisation that is making a difference.
“Firstly, improvements to working smarter. This continues the trend that has been in the industry for a number of years where transitioning from a document centric way of working to data centric. This has continued and evolved to be ‘model centric’ where the model is broad in its interpretation. This is reducing friction and enabling speed in the supply chain when updating information about an operating plant. Digitalisation, however, remains focused in the engineering domain. The second element of digitalisation is the application of a wider digital twin in the day-to-day operations of a plant. Building on investments in edge devices, IOT and instrumentation, operations can apply digital twins to a lot of aspects of the business.”
Stubbs went into more detail on how Bentley looks at two levels where this can be used:
“Both of these are strongly aligned with the application and use of ML/AI techniques – transitioning maintenance for example to predictive techniques, and in the operational context, optmising the use of raw materials or energy. They are all important measures of success in an industry that is under increasing external scrutiny,” he noted.
Digital twin successes
“We were very excited last year to see how many of our users’ projects submitted to the Year in Infrastructure Awards and shortlisted by external judges – cited the use of a digital twin. These projects took various forms, some related to driving efficiency of startup, for example Hatch in Africa, or in operations, the use of remote surveys to avoid the danger of having teams climbing radio towers in remote locations of Australia.
“For me, what this showed is the use of a digital twin is very varied and much dependent on the business or market challenges sought. While not oil and gas related, I think the inspection surveys for radio towers done with a drone has a lot of relevance in the oil and gas industry. Imagine improved fabrication, installation and maintenance of towers, ﬂare stacks, and cranes. Again, avoiding the need for unnecessary working in remote locations, at height and other hazardous situations,” said Stubbs.
Stubbs explained that Bentley is seeing challenges in a number of places relating to the adoption of digital twins and digitalisation in general.
“The key challenge is that this is not an IT project. Rather, the adoption of digital twins impacts potentially many areas of business. For example, commercially, traditional EPC contracts and milestone payments are driven by deliverables in document form. How does this need to change when the measure of progress might be much more granular and based around data and quality of data? So when adopting digital twins there needs to be broad alignment across a much wider part of the business as well as new ways of working. However, the beneﬁts are very signiﬁcant.”
In fact, Stubbs feels that cloud technology could make a huge difference.
“The cloud makes solutions more accessible to a wider range of people. For example, for a user of ours who operates FPSO vessels off shore with limited connectivity, as well as onshore engineering support, we have been able to provide a hybrid cloud and on- vessel solution to ensure everyone has access to the information they need all the time.”
Stubbs went on to talk about how Bentley has worked with the global consultant McKinsey to develop a maturity assessment.
“This process can help an organisation assess their current position on a journey to achieving digitalisation and to prioritise the best next steps. This gives a structured process that any organisation can adopt to measure their progress and calculate an ROI robustly. Additionally, the research for this, combined with proven ﬁgures coming from our Year in Infrastructure submissions has given us some fascinating insight into what organisations are measuring and achieving – the beneﬁts are signiﬁcant and increasingly proven.
He added: “We are seeing our users report savings in OPEX ranging from 10-40 per cent. Some of the more interesting examples are the stories around improved safety.”
Stubbs explained that while the industry has been talking about TOTEX as a target for a number of years “the availability of digitalisation and digital twins are now making what was a previously intangible beneﬁt that was hard to prove and qualify, increasingly tangible and demonstrated – alignment across the supply chain and lifecycle is going to unlock a new generation of opportunity for the industry – vital as we now enter a phase of new reality brought on by environmental and energy transition.”
Digital Twins outlook
“I think more companies will be looking at digital twins. I feel we are seeing the coming together of a number of different forces in the market that has created a tipping point for greater digitalisation, and we are just at the start of it,” said Stubbs.
He concluded: “Coming out of COVID we will see a signiﬁcant change to how a lot of owners operate their assets. I think it will be interesting to see in the next few months, as operations start to return to normal, what this normal will look like.”
This interview first appeared in the July issue of Pipeline Magazine
Julian Walker spoke to David Armstrong, Business Development Director at Bentley Systems and Rob Harper, Director, Product Management Asset Information & Reliability, Bentley Systems about the advances digitalisation it bringing to its digital twin services.
The oil and gas industry is starting to really embrace digitalisation, as it looks to catch up with other industries that have gone down the digital route earlier.
“It is the oil and gas industry’s time. They should look at the beneﬁts that other industries like aviation and manufacturing have gained from making the switch. I think digitalisation is changing the oil and gas industry for obvious reasons as there has been some serious faux pas in the past as digitalisation was not adopted sooner by the oil and gas industry,” said Armstrong.
Armstrong said the world has embraced the fact that the industry has to get its intellectual property in one place; to “Future-Proof” their organizations. If key information about your critical assets resides in the minds of your aging workforce or contractors, their potential departure could cause serious issues with your assets and therefore your organization.
“You can have thousands of IoT devices in the ﬁeld, but if you don’t have all the right information coming together when you need it and have that situational intelligence in place then you will never be able to make the right decision at the right time.”
Armstrong touched on how the evolution of technology has allowed digitalisation to be used as a mechanism to deliver more operational income savings.
“There is so much overlap and waste that we see. Technology is now advanced to the point when we don’t have to bring in systems integrators in a room and hardwire connect. We now have a framework that exists to pull the information in remotely and see what is needed. We can make sure it is the latest information and it is connected to everything. This wasn’t possible in the past,” noted Armstrong.
What Bentley Systems is hearing loud and clear is that owners and operators are saying if the technology is already there, how can they leverage their investments in terms of information in a different way.
Armstrong explained: “We call this the iceberg data. All the information sitting under the tip of the iceberg is relevant, but how do I bring that information to the surface and use it. This is how we can help and how our digital twin, iTwin, solution can bring all this information to the forefront in a uniﬁed view.”
He added: “One of the things we are focusing on now is looking at the problems we are actually trying to solve. Open technologies now exist that can change the discussion to what problems you have and how can we connect the disconnected information to ﬁnd a solution, and accelerate time to value. There has been an evolution in how software companies work. We, at Bentley, are quite different, as we don’t care where the design documentation comes from. Technology is now a babel ﬁsh. It allows us to communicate in different ways, and that allows us to ask different questions that we were not prepared or able to ask in the past.”
Digital twin to the rescue
The technology evolution can all be seen in Bentley Systems digital twin solution, iTwin Services.
As Harper explained: “The base technology that we offer is iTwin Services that can take multiple data sources in the engineering space and digitalise and review sources on the web. From there we can build speciﬁc solutions and technologies for different industries. For example, in the traditional process industry, we have built a solution in partnership with Siemens called PlantSight that helps us move toward a more speciﬁc solution for oil and gas companies.”
It is the ability of the digital twin solution to link all the engineering information that a company might have from different sources and then visualise it in one place on the web that makes it such an important differentiator.
“We can bring all the data from any third-party application into a single portal to give the client a real-time look in 3D of how an asset is operating. We are using the user’s data and stringing it together, so the client can leverage all the investments they have made in the past.”
Harper emphasised that Bentley Systems’ digital twin solution allows users to keep their legacy investment in data and models.
“As many companies have already made a lot of investment in engineering tools or reliability systems, we want to bring all of that data to the forefront so companies can see all the information in one place. We feel a digital twin can provide a real in-depth look at the current condition of an asset and also its future condition. When clients start to see the beneﬁt of digital twins in the project phase, we see them realise how much more valuable the information will be when they get an asset into operation.”
Another important aspect is that a digital twin will be constantly updated and kept in an evergreen state, so it can constantly add value over time.
“The evergreen digital twin is key, as operational assets are always in a state of dynamic change of one form or another,” said Armstrong.
Beneﬁts of the Cloud
One technology that iTwin Services and PlantSight take full advantage of is the cloud.
“On the design side, the cloud is making a massive difference in that we can conduct critical meetings remotely. With engineers forced to work remotely from home during the COVID-19 crisis, we have seen our users remain highly productive and able to effectively carry out design reviews remotely using the cloud,” Harper said.
He added: “One of the key functionalities in our iTwin Services is our comparison feature, which allows us to import the latest 3D model and compare with previous versions, it can immediately show all the changes made.”
Bentley Systems is also heavily focused on reality modelling and capturing existing asset conditions.
As Harper described: “The ability to take photographs of an entire site using drones, and converting these photographs into a reality mesh and create a real-time 3D model is really impressive. Using drones to capture the data and then be able to visually inspect your asset in 3D remotely is an interesting technology that has a lot of usage for oil and gas companies.”
Other technologies that will be key going forward, will be artiﬁcial intelligence and machine learning.
“AI and machine learning have developed in leaps and bounds, and both are going to be key for a lot of the things our tools can do,” noted Harper.
Middle East thirst for digitalisation
The Middle East region has always sought the latest technologies, and this is why there is a lot of interest in digital twin services in the region.
“The Middle East has always been quite progressive when it comes to new technology. Now, the Middle East is opening up to cloud-based solutions provided they are hosted within the region, which is a big game changer. Middle East countries are looking forward, and initiatives like Dubai’s 2020 and Saudi Arabia’s 2030 will be very important in advancing technology in the region. It is the right time in the Middle East to leverage on the infrastructure and capital as the Gulf countries move away from being solely reliant on hydrocarbons,” said Armstrong.
“We have two success stories from Oman on how our digital twin solution helped Oman Gas and BP on its big Khazzan gas project,” said Armstrong.
He added: “We have seen a big uptick in requests for more information about digital twins in the last three months from the Middle East. We are spending a lot time educating our users in the region about digitalisation.”
Bringing greater reliability
Bentley Systems feels that reliability beneﬁts are a massive part of what digital twin services can bring. Armstrong said: “In oil and gas, we always look at the earliest point of detection but in reality that does not always happen. We are trying to affect change much earlier in the process to avoid any operational challenges later in an asset’s life. Early bird gets the worm. We can work with new technology like AI, machine learning to move that earliest point of detection much further up the curve, allowing us additional time to deal with critical events.”
He added: “Maintenance is the act of doing, but reliability is a state of thinking before we do something, based on proactively reviewing the right information. That is what a digital twin is about. We see it as digital-scenario planning. We are looking at creating a valuable data lake that will allows us conﬁdently to look into the future.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a lot of interest in cloud technology and digitalisation.
“We have seen an immediate impact on the number of RFIs and RFPs after COVID hit. I think there has been a blinding ﬂ ash of reality and questions of what do we do now. How can we have access to the information when we aren’t even allowed to go to the plant?,” said Armstrong.
Harper also touched on the increased interest after COVID-19 started.
“While we are seeing a reduction in big capital spend on some of the facility work companies are looking for efficiency improvements via digitalisation and like David said, a lot of the RFIs and RFPs are looking for a digitalisation strategy,” said Harper.
This interview first appeared in the July issue of Pipeline Magazine
By: Al Rivero, PE - Director Sales, Oil and Gas at Rajant Corporation
The midstream market is continually evolving. With the volatility of ever-changing oil and gas product prices, it is apparent that operators in this tariff -based business must remain innovative in the ways they adapt to new challenges. The age of Industry 4.0 is here. Focused pipeline operators are ﬁnding the best opportunities to maximise efficiency and reliability while minimising costs and prioritising safety.
As more complex Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) applications are introduced into the fold, operators must ensure their day-to-day operations and processes can work in symbiosis with the evolution of these technologies.
One key tool enabled by the proliferation of the IIoT sector is drone usage. The number of deployments is increasing exponentially across a variety of industry sectors, including agriculture, military, and border patrol. That’s no surprise, given the projected annual revenue of the drone industry is US$82.1 billion by 2025. By utilising unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), known commonly as drones, the oil and gas industry can follow the blueprint of many other sectors that have unleashed and harnessed its potential and reaped the immense rewards offered.
Smarter decisions made safely and securely As deployments across the globe skyrocket, drones’ seamless ability to reach all parts
of the oil and gas environment rapidly is unmatched. They can, and are, replacing costly methods that would take a signiﬁcantly longer amount of time for staff to navigate the site. With the ability to collect and transfer large volumes of data while operating remotely for long durations of time across a vast distance, operators should be keen to embrace drone usage with open arms. Pipeline operators are under regulatory pressures to inspect right-of-way and gathering points for thefts, leaks, and incursions. Having eyes in the sky regularly to provide logistical support and reduce the reliance on manned vessels and personnel movement, drone usage can improve safety and reliability. With over a million miles of pipeline across the globe requiring inspection, monitoring needs to be an integral part of every PIM. Lines traverse large geography often extending hundreds of miles in remote hard to reach areas and are ideal for unmanned crafts.
By providing an aerial perspective to assist the operator in creating a view of the “What, When and How,” each ﬂ yover can help with measured values, look for topology changes, and provide visuals of earth disturbances that could lead to leaks or illegal taps. UAVs can assist in pinpointing and detecting potential incidents and facilitate emergency response.
Drones with hydrocarbon sensors are used in leak detection. High-resolution imagery can be used to detect movement of soil due to compression or subsidence, as well as use for illegal taps. With thousands of kilometers of both below ground and above ground assets, pipeline operators are relying on drones to provide quick situation assessment. They
are proving tremendous assets that can be utilised across an operator’s entire operation. Offering the ability to collect, analyse, and transfer large amounts of data, deploying drones can help operators excel ahead of their global competition. Not only can drone usage vastly improve visibility compared to previously manual and costly methods, but it can empower oil and gas operators to make smarter decisions, safely and securely.
Supporting dynamic drone usage
However, whilst businesses and governments are beginning to realise the immense importance of drone usage and the opportunities it brings with it, what they must consider is the readiness of their networks to facilitate a drone system or ﬂeet. For oil and gas operators, a growing concern is the ability to monitor their assets while simultaneously maximizing efficiency and productivity.
For example, operators manage constantly moving assets such as vehicles, tankers, and personnel, which remain on the move 24/7, 365 days a year. With many moving parts at once, all of which require different levels of mission-critical requirements, it can mean that crucial connectivity needed for drone usage will face challenges.
Traditional wireless networks will prove ineffective and, in turn, prevent the drones from being utilised effectively. Deploying Wi-Fi – which is most suited to indoor environments where assets are mostly stationary – will not be able to cope with the addition of multiple access points to keep sprawling outdoor operations covered. With the inability to provide reliable connectivity across complex environments for mobile assets such as drones, operators will not be able to work around interference, and coverage drops will be likely.
Leveraging the right network infrastructure can empower operators to make a shift away from the paradigm of traditional manual disintegrated oil and gas processes. Operators need to have a wireless network to rapidly deploy fully mobile and secure connectivity to fully exploit the efficiency beneﬁts of next-generation IIoT applications, such as drone usage.
Rajant can provide the answer
Rajant’s Kinect Mesh network can transform mobile assets into network infrastructure and is designed to adapt to an operators’ communication needs in a fully mobile, highly resilient web of communications. This is made possible by Rajant’s BreadCrumb wireless nodes, which are powered by InstaMesh networking software and provide instantaneous and fail-proof connectivity across rugged terrain. It provides real-time routing of traffic via the fastest pathways, dynamically optimising performance.
Rajant is the only network that enables continuous mobile connectivity for machine-to-machine (M2M) communications as its BreadCrumb nodes can be deployed directly on all mobile assets, including equipment, vehicles, and technician devices. This creates a crucial link between the business-critical ﬁeld assets and central operations facility. As drone usage becomes an operational necessity for operators, the ability to communicate is dependent on the network. But, with Rajant’s BreadCrumbs, they can hold multiple connections simultaneously and allow mobile assets to communicate peer-to-peer to orchestrate movements and coordinate task execution.
With the ability to eliminate any single point of failure for mission-critical reliability, Rajant’s network provides operators with connectivity that never breaks for autonomous operations, which cannot afford a momentary loss of communications.
Embracing drones to stay ahead
As global competition intensiﬁes in the unpredictable oil and gas sector, operators must ensure they embrace new applications such as drone usage, which IIoT enables.
By adopting a communications system that facilitates the utilisation of these opportunities to reduce downtime and enhance security, operators will be able to thrive for years to come.
Mohamad Awad, Regional VP for the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan at AVEVA discusses how new developments in asset performance management can play a transformative role at the region’s oil companies even in a challenging economic climate – thanks to technologies such as IIOT, AI and big data.
In the current low-price environment, asset utilization, cost control and regulatory compliance have become the industry’s top concerns as oil and gas companies struggle to maintain operating profits. With their high capital values, better utilisation rates can help improve efficiencies and reduce costs across the sector, whether in terms of upstream production, midstream throughput or downstream processing. Budgets remain a strategic issue, particularly with high costs from manpower and maintenance. Environmental concerns have increased regulatory oversight.
Consequently, oil and gas operators are turning to the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and other new technologies to optimise operations and boost revenue streams. In fact, researchers estimate that the market for IIoT in oil and gas worldwide alone could reach US$39.4 billion by 2023.
Asset performance management (APM) has a major role to play in driving these improvements across the board. Gartner defines APM as a set of software applications and tools that improve the reliability and availability of physical assets that are essential to an enterprise’s operations, including plants, equipment and infrastructure. With its ability to connect data and trigger actions via systems across the business, APM has been embraced by the manufacturing and maritime industries and is now being adopted by the energy sector, which has been rather late to the game.
To understand APM at work, imagine a scenario where an engineer needs to pinpoint a leaky pump from several shortlisted units, and then estimate potential treatment lines and downtimes. Using the traditional non-visual system, the engineer must rely on manual checks across a wide geographical area, as well as personal experience to answer both questions effectively – a process that can take days, if not longer.
With APM and a digital twin, however, field professionals are able to make decisions much faster, aided by artificial intelligence and virtual guidance. The proximity, location and role of each pump in the plant’s operations are apparent upon consulting the digital twin, while colour-coding on a virtual 3D model indicates the relative health status of each pump in the system. A drill-down to real-time operational data shows the underlying problems: one pump has a leak, while another shows excess vibration. The engineer can now make an informed decision, applying best practices and scheduling repairs to both pumps to maximize asset reliability.
If the story ended there, APM wouldn’t be used to its full extent. It is when this data is shared across the business – in this case to suppliers, operations, management, and perhaps even customers – that APM truly comes into its own. At AVEVA, we call this APM 4.0, to align with the smart extraction, manufacturing and operations procedures of Industry 4.0.
APM 4.0 offers a significant upgrade to the way oil and gas companies conduct maintenance. Just as with Industry 4.0, it transforms businesses by using a set of cyber-physical systems including the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), cloud computing, big data analytics, predictive analytics leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning, mobility and augmented and virtual reality. However, APM 4.0’s benefits only accrue when leveraged across an organisation's value chain.
These benefits can be broken down into three key areas of focus:
From data collection to analysis and asset visualisation, APM 4.0 is more than just hype. The approach has yielded significant benefits for companies that have embraced it. According to an AVEVA customer survey, APM 4.0 yielded the following benefits:
Simply put, APM 4.0 brings digital transformation to the oilfield in a cost-effective and operationally efficient manner. With its capacity to funnel multiple silos and different information formats into a single, comprehensive functional representation that offers real-time, actionable insights, APM 4.0 can ultimately improve business and customer outcomes in the challenging oil and gas sector.
Neil Flemming, managing director of Asset Integrity Engineering spoke exclusively to Pipeline Oil & gas News about the impact of COVID-19 on safe operations and the industries drive for optimisation.
The COVID-19 pandemic and energy price collapse has taken a severe toll on the Oil and Gas industry. What has been the impact on safe operations?
This is an incredibly difficult time for all those involved in the industry. Not only are energy prices at historic lows, but operators are also facing a variety of Government health rulings and other related challenges in response to the pandemic.
We have seen operating companies cancel or defer key maintenance, inspection, and shutdown activities. Many remediation and repair projects have been shelved and inspection backlog is generally growing daily.
In many cases, assets are being forced to operate beyond an already stretched design life, but now with limited maintenance and inspection resources at site. A key challenge many operators have had to balance is the risk of spreading the virus within the workplace against maintaining sufficient manning levels at site which are suitably rested.
The industry supply chain has also been severely affected in some regions more than others. We are activity supporting a range of clients where specialist skills or consumables required for sustainable operations are either not available of significantly delayed. We have worked with clients to provide critical engineering analysis, optimise maintenance spares, engineer strategies to reduce chemical consumption and define optimal manning strategies.
Its not all doom and gloom however, and we have seen operators adopt several innovative and effective risk reduction measures to cope with the current situation. The adoption of remote working practices and technology has been an area which has developed significantly and has largely been effective. We see an increased adoption of this remote support model moving forward.
How was the industry positioned before the COVID 19 outbreak?
The last oil price downturn (and those before it) ultimately created many difficulties for operators in sustaining safe and reliable operations whilst still operating a commercially viable model. In recent years, major cost cutting was enacted, and in many cases, this was not always executed strategically. For example, manpower was reduced although the technology, process and systems in place were largely kept the same.
We have witnessed the negative effects of this approach from a safety and reliability point of view over recent years. Integrity and process safety incidents typically lag investment decisions by up to 5 years. Throughout history we know that periods of low oil price have historically been followed by major incidents and even before the COVID-19 outbreak we saw evidence of this trend. In 2018/2019 alone 4 out of the 20 largest ever reported energy losses were recorded. The root cause of these incidents is not fully defined although time will tell if we are again sadly repeating the events of the past.
The major concern we face today is that many assets are already operating well beyond their original intended service life and poorly engineered cost cutting measures over recent years are now creating widespread challenges. This combined with the unprecedented effects of the COVID pandemic is a major challenge for the industry moving forward.
What advice can you give to operators faced with these current challenges?
In AIE we continually learn from other industry sectors and across our varied client base. We also invest heavily in R&D and this approach drives the adoption of new technology and best practice across the services and software solutions we provide to clients.
Cost reduction and efficiency can be implemented via various strategies across most areas of the business. Change by its very nature however creates risk and this needs to be managed via a robust management of change process (MOC).
Oil and gas operations are still inherently inefficient when compared with other industries. Clients tend to invest heavily in new projects although do not always take a structured and systemic view on asset performance and extending remaining life. Studies show that nearly 50 per cent of budget spent on preventive maintenance can in some instances be eliminated. It is in this space where AIE focuses and our services and software solutions are geared to drive optimized strategies which create the foundations for operational excellence and all the benefits this brings.
When faced with such economic challenges, the idea of investing additional funds to strategically optimise or restructure operations is sometimes counter intuitive to most. Operators instead often decide to execute such measures with internal resources, ironically in many cases the same resources which created the original system and of course this has certain limitations.
Fundamentally and above all, operators need to adopt a more sophisticated and long-term approach to plant operations and cost optimisation. A move towards data-driven decision making (DDDM) is essential which involves making decisions and optimisations based on factual data rather than relying on intuition or observation. We have worked with clients to successfully execute DDDM objectives in a number of projects and in all cases we have achieved significant optimisation targets from reducing spares and chemical inventory by up to 60 per cent to optimising inspection and maintenance systems by up to 40 per cent.
Industry studies report that many companies believe the use of digital technologies can improve asset integrity performance and drive continuous improvement. What is AIE’s view on this?
Now more than ever, energy providers and service companies must continuously improve their efficiency to operate profitably. At the same time, companies must maintain the highest standards for safety and environmental protection.
Approximately 36 per cent of oil and gas companies are already investing in big data and analytics. However, only 13 per cent use the insights from this technology to drive their business transformation and Continuous Improvement (CI). This discrepancy highlights how these companies have not always embedded big data and analytics completely into their systems but are just applying the technology piecemeal.
AIE was founded based mainly out of frustration with this situation, whereby most integrity service providers available on the market focused on relentless inspection campaigns and placed limited value on the evaluation strategy or analysis of the data. We also challenged the way integrity management processes were historically designed to be bespoke and were never standardised or fully integrated.
We are strongly invested in the development of digital technologies to drive asset integrity performance and continuous improvement. Through our Veracity software, we are leading the industry to a more efficient, standardised, and integrated approach to how data is gathered, analysed and managed in helping to create and sustain operational excellence.
What is next for AIE ?
AIE provides remote integrity support through our Veracity platform to assets producing over 2 million barrels of oil per day. AIE remains focused on changing the industry mindset, to move away from relentless onsite inspection and maintenance activities and instead focus on data driven decision making and plant optimisation.
We continue to heavily invest in R&D geared towards advancing our software and data analytics capabilities. In 2020 AIE will launch new machine learning technology and we will also become a paperless integrity management service provider whereby all analysis and field reporting will be executed digitally through our Veracity platform and mobile application.
We are continuing to grow our client base, diversifying into other industry sectors and providing a new range of sustainability services which support the energy transition taking place. We have recently been awarded our first service contract in South East Asia and we have new strategic partnerships in the MENA region soon to be announced.
The current market conditions are extremely difficult for all involved, however AIE is an agile forward-thinking organisation and our entire service range and skill set is geared to support industry requirements moving forward.
Liv A. Hovem, CEO of DNV GL – Oil & Gas spoke exclusively with Julian Walker about why hydrogen now has a more certain future and will have a greater role to play in the energy mix.
Pipeline: Why do you think hydrogen has not played a bigger role in the energy mix so far?
The hydrogen economy is still in its infancy, and it’s true that hydrogen has been overhyped in the past. Yet, DNV GL’s recently launched whitepaper ‘Heading for Hydrogen’ – based on a survey of more than 1,000 senior oil and gas industry professionals – suggests a more certain future and that the time is right to begin scaling the hydrogen economy.
Societies globally are aligning on the need to act faster to ﬁght climate change, with several nations already committing to net zero targets for CO2 emissions. Many oil and gas majors have also committed to reducing or eliminating their emissions, and our decade-long study shows a signiﬁcant rise in the proportion of those questioned reporting that their organisation is actively adapting to a less carbon-intensive energy mix – up from 44 per cent in 2018 to 60 per cent in 2020. Hydrogen has a signiﬁcant part to play in this. At the end of 2019, one in ﬁve (21 per cent) said their organisation was already actively entering the hydrogen market.
The rise of natural gas will also be key CCto hydrogen playing a greater role in the energy mix. Our 2019 Energy Transition Outlook – DNV GL’s independent forecast of world energy demand and supply – forecasts that natural gas will become the world’s largest energy source in the mid-2020s. In this outlook, gas will complement variable renewables throughout the energy transition. Blue hydrogen (produced from fossil fuels, using carbon capture and storage (CCS) to reduce emissions) offers the opportunity to decarbonise this gas.
In short, the future of hydrogen energy is wrapped up with the future of natural gas, renewable energy and CCS – all of which are set to play signiﬁcantly greater roles in the coming years.
are helping governments and gas operators to demonstrate safe hydrogen production, transmission and consumption. One example is the Hy4Heat programme in the UK, which aims to establish whether it is technically possible, safe, and convenient to replace methane with hydrogen in residential and commercial areas.
The second area is to develop efficient hydrogen infrastructure. Countries with natural gas infrastructure can continue to use those assets in a hydrogen economy. Even where existing infrastructure can be reused or repurposed, there will still be issues to resolve. Our experts are helping companies across the global oil and gas value chain to develop hydrogen-ﬁ t infrastructure. One operational constraint to overcome includes the fact that hydrogen pipeline networks may need to be operated at different pressures (or velocity) than natural gas/biogas. Further research may be needed into whether hydrogen could have an adverse effect on materials (e.g. in pipes and valves) and ﬁnally, various appliances would need to be converted or replaced (e.g. water heaters, compressors, pumps and sensors).
Third is the need to scale CCS technology. All major routes to successfully decarbonise gas rely on the large-scale uptake of CCS. More than half of those we surveyed (55 per cent) said that the oil and gas industry cannot decarbonise without greater uptake of CCS. CCS struggles to gain traction because there is a cheaper option for industry: emitting carbon into the atmosphere costs virtually nothing. Our 2019 Energy Transition Outlook ﬁnds that CCS will not scale until the 2040s without changes to government policy decisions – the types of bold decisions that stimulated other clean technologies like solar and wind – large-scale uptake can happen. Industry can also play a role by ﬁnding ways to reduce the cost of implementing CCS. Some 62 per cent of senior oil and gas industry professionals think the sector should drive adoption forward immediately, and not wait for government policies/incentives.
The ﬁnal enabler for the growth of hydrogen relates to the need to incentivise value chains through policy. The quicker that government incentivises industry to adopt technology, the quicker the technology goes down the cost-learning curve and becomes independently ﬁnancially viable. Use cases will create demand for hydrogen, and demand will lead to further investment, lower costs, greater acceptance, and the momentum needed to build sustainable supply chains. But to make use cases a reality, governments and inter-governmental organisations have to make more long-term policy commitments.
Pipeline: How important will hydrogen be in the energy transition to a low carbon world?
Hydrogen has the potential to decarbonise natural gas (and applications that cannot feasibly be run on electricity). It can complement renewables during production lows or high demand, and surplus renewable energy can be used to produce hydrogen, which can be stored as a gas for use in other applications. This is signiﬁcant, as DNV GL research predicts that natural gas and variable renewables will be the only energy sources for which demand is higher in 2050 than today.
While hydrogen gas produced from renewable energy (green hydrogen) is the industry’s ultimate destination, analysis shows that the sector can only realistically scale-up to large volumes and infrastructure with carbon-free hydrogen produced from fossil fuels combined with CCS technology
(blue hydrogen). Natural gas and hydrogen can play similar roles within the global energy system, and the synergies between them – in application and infrastructure – will drive the hydrogen economy.
Pipeline: What impact will the current oil market environment have on the hydrogen sector?
I don’t believe industry ambition to realise the hydrogen economy will be dampened by the recent oil price crisis. The transition to clean energy is a multi-decade-long quest, and hydrogen has a signiﬁcant part to play. According to our research in the ‘Heading for hydrogen’ white paper, more than half (52 per cent) of our survey respondents expect hydrogen to be a signiﬁcant part of the energy mix by 2030.
It has to be said that the industry has reacted quickly to the current oil market environment with operators quick to cut investment following the 2020 oil price drop. However, several oil majors have reaffirmed their low-carbon commitments will continue. Bernard Looney, BP’s recently appointed CEO was quoted as saying that, he was “more convinced than ever” that BP must embrace the energy transition following the collapse of global oil markets.
The oil price has slowed industry activity, but net-zero carbon targets, and the broad societal support for them, remain in place. We are also seeing shareholders pushing the low carbon agenda within major oil and gas companies too.
Pipeline: Which markets have the best infrastructure to make hydrogen?
Blue hydrogen is currently cheaper and easier to create in large volumes than green. Once the required infrastructure and market dynamics are in place, it is expected that boosting blue hydrogen will create enough scale and momentum to make greener gas cost-competitive enough to overtake blue. The creation of a hydrogen grid and user base will provide a market and infrastructure into which hydrogen generated from renewables can be exported.
In the long-term, renewable hydrogen production can be expected to replace hydrogen produced from fossil fuels, eliminating the need for CCS. I think it’s reasonable to say that the countries currently relying on natural gas for heating residential and commercial spaces, such as Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, the UK and the U.S., are most likely to adopt hydrogen at signiﬁcant scale for space heating. This is because their existing gas infrastructure can be adapted to hydrogen distribution and storage. With that will come hydrogen production.
Australia for example, is laying the foundations for liquid hydrogen exports. Such a hydrogen export industry will require extensive production, storage, and transport technologies. However, decision makers can take lessons from the planning and execution of LNG mega-projects in the country. Another interesting example is the project DNV GL has been undertaking in the Netherlands - the Power2Gas programme being led by Stedin, a Dutch gas and power grid operator. We have been managing and providing expert support to test that homes can be heated by 100 per cent hydrogen replacing natural gas in an existing pipeline for the ﬁrst time in the country.
Pipeline: How important will collaboration be for hydrogen to reach its true potential?
Collaboration is vital for hydrogen to reach its true potential. To progress to the stage where societies and industry can enjoy the beneﬁts of hydrogen at scale, governments and industry will need to make bold decisions and balance short- and long-term priorities to address the key enablers I mentioned above.
In Norway for example, DNV GL is supporting the government with technical and market analysis to provide a knowledge base for decisions regarding national strategy and policy measures. It’s also about collaboration between organisations and companies to bring together the best technical expertise and experience that will drive this forward.
Pipeline: Are companies seriously looking at hydrogen? If not, what should they be doing?
Yes, I believe that they are. This is backed by our survey data in 2019 where 20 per cent of respondents expected their organisation to invest in or develop hydrogen in the year ahead. The ﬁgure for 2020 jumped up to 42 per cent, increasing by an impressive 108 per cent.
Another interesting outcome is the extent to which respondents agreed that hydrogen will be a signiﬁcant part of the energy mix within 10 years – around the globe this is pretty consistent – with 56 per cent in Asia Paciﬁc, 54 per cent in the Middle East and North Africa, 53 per cent in Europe, 40 per cent in North America, and 37 per cent in Latin America.
This interview first appeared in the June issue of Pipeline Oil and Gas News Magazine
Proserv’s CTO Tore Erntsen, and Alan Peek, Director, Controls Technology, reveal how Trondheim is the centre for the firm’s subsea controls R&D activity
For oil and gas companies of all scales, from supermajors and small independent operators to global oilfield service providers, Norway represents a significant area of activity and opportunity.
Daily production stood at around 1.7mn barrels per day (bpd) at the end of 2019, before the recent impacts of Covid-19 and global oversupply, and once further big-ticket offshore fields in the Norwegian North Sea ramp up their output, when market conditions once again normalise, it will approach 2mn bpd.
Norway offers a mature and established environment and provides a breadth of opportunities for our various specialisms here at Proserv with our measurement team, as one example, undertaking its first metering project in the country some 20 years ago. This team now works with one of Europe’s largest energy multinationals on some of its flagship projects, including key storage terminals and subsea fields on the Norwegian Continental Shelf.
Indeed, Norway’s hydrocarbon output is increasingly driven by its subsea capabilities, as technological advances have opened up greater possibilities over the past decade. Industry forecasts suggest there will be more than 1,000 active subsea trees installed in Norwegian waters, both shallow and deep water, by 2025, placing it behind only Brazil globally.
As a developer and supplier of subsea controls systems, many of our more valuable contract wins in the country have been focused on large-scale subsea projects, where we have often helped upgrade or extend assets.
As subsea solutions embody such a principal strength for Proserv, our technological expertise and capability is spread across the globe, including in our centre of excellence in Great Yarmouth, England, but our research and development (R&D) hub, where our next generation subsea electronics module (SEM), the Artemis 2G (A2G) has evolved, is to be found in Trondheim, in central Norway.
The city is the home of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (known as NTNU), the country’s preeminent educational institution for engineering, and SINTEF, a major technological research organisation, which collaborates closely with NTNU. Trondheim is widely regarded as Norway’s technology capital, containing not only globally respected academic centres, but many small innovative companies and start-ups, contributing to the city’s reputation for innovation.
The core of our research team in Trondheim first came together over twenty years ago and so its ways of working and approaching new challenges are well established. There is no set template for such a process, every organisation will most likely have its own methodology, but for us innovation often advances in quite a collegial manner, for instance when the team has been approached regarding a possible enhancement to the performance of a piece of subsea equipment.
A bottom-up approach is employed where our engineers will effectively go through a feasibility phase to see if finding a solution or resolution is achievable. At this point, factors such as cost, need and the market are not really considered. As and when a result is attained, only then will economic considerations dictate its future viability.
Across the Proserv business portfolio, we have established a raft of technical authorities who offer a crucial link to the direct market for our R&D team. These authorities can communicate exactly how our systems are being utilised by our direct customers, what features are or aren’t being fully engaged, and even how our technology fits into the broader operation of a field.
Equally, some of our technical authorities also sit on key committees for international standards, such as the API 17F for subsea production control systems and the MCS-DCS Interface Standardisation (or MDIS) network, alongside leading global operators. This means that, in addition to the more immediate analysis from the market and present customers, they also gain access to wider industry considerations regarding future developments and issues.
This wealth of feedback, via the technical authorities, naturally has the potential to help inform our innovators in Trondheim, steer further R&D and, ultimately, create opportunities to continually improve and drive forwards our technology with direct relevance to current and future requirements.
Global market conditions also have a crucial role in shaping corporate strategy, leading to a more top-down method to influencing and driving possible R&D activity.
Part of our present subsea plan, in this time of challenging oil prices, is to push a more service-oriented model towards our clients, aimed at delivering upgrades and retrofits, not expenditure intensive wholesale replacements.
The evolution of our A2G SEM technology in Trondheim, with its coexistence capabilities, allied to the adaptability and flexibility of our wider team to tailor and identify specific solutions, have combined to facilitate a directly relevant business strategy.
Continually moving forwards
Innovation is not always about making a paradigm shift to spur a great leap but often based around gradual and continual steps forwards. At Proserv, we are looking to encourage a company-wide top-down initiative to pool feedback from customers, and others in the field, to be channelled into our technical authorities and our R&D team to generate greater targeted, focused research.
Ultimately, we are one component within a moving landscape where our competitors are looking to utilise and make gains from our strengths and innovations. To keep ahead, and to bolster our R&D capabilities, attracting new talent is a key ingredient. Young engineers challenge the norms: they will instinctively look at situations with a fresh eye, examining established methods and practices, and asking new questions. This scrutiny might lead to original techniques being employed or new electronics in our products.
Each summer, we bring several students in from NTNU to gain experience of working in a technology business and a feel for our R&D work. They get to know us and, in some instances, they have subsequently joined our team.
Proserv is taking a proactive role in the energy transition, using some of the technology developed in Trondheim to build a business in the offshore renewables sector. To support this push, we will need to augment our R&D team with engineers possessing the right skills and background.
Maintaining partnerships and collaboration with the likes of NTNU, SINTEF and the multiple technology firms throughout Trondheim will be essential to retaining access to innovative people, who will give us a greater chance of continued success.
This interview first appeared in the May issue of Pipeline Magazine
Wintershall Dea Chairman of the Board and CEO Mario Mehren spoke exclusively with Pipeline Oil and Gas News’s Julian Walker about how the German gas and oil company is coping with the coronavirus crisis and why the merger a year ago with DEA came at the right moment
Pipeline What does the crisis mean in practical terms for the business and for your day to day work?
We are currently – as we all notice in our everyday lives – in a state of emergency. As Wintershall Dea we are also in a state of emergency, but still able to act. We are in a kind of controlled state of emergency, and so we are acting and responding with careful consideration.
In the last month, almost all employees at our locations in 13 countries - Germany, the UAE and elsewhere - have been working from home. Clearly however that’s not always possible for everyone, in particular not for our onsite teams. I’m truly thankful to our people at production sites around the world who are working hard – and maintaining appropriate safety measures - to continue producing gas and oil.
Pipeline As CEO, what does the situation mean for you personally, and how are you managing to engage with your team and your people?
Certainly it has been a big change to working life. Since mid-March I’ve been working from home myself, and my wife and children are at home with me. All of our people have dispensed with business trips, nationally and internationally, and that goes for me too. Not making any business trips is a particularly noticeable change!
Apart from that, I’m making more phone calls than ever before, and using online tools constantly. I’m a big fan of talking in person, and I miss it! But in an internationally active company, video conferences are always part of everyday life. We’re therefore well versed in that and also very well equipped.
I’ve been running digital meetings with employees for over a year now, and since we all moved to remote working we’ve stepped that up so they are weekly. Once a week I share a video message from my home office to our 2,800 people worldwide. Any employee can then submit a question, and I and my management team do our best to answer them.
I also use my internal blog to share some of my personal thoughts about working from home. It’s an unusual and often challenging situation for everyone, and I think it’s important for me as CEO to recognise that.
Pipeline What protective measures has Wintershall Dea taken at its production sites?
We’re doing everything we can to stem the spread of the virus and ensure health and safety. At the same time, we need to keep our operations and our businesses running so that we can continue to produce and deliver the energy the world needs. We have implemented the necessary safety measures at production sites. Teams have been reduced to a minimal staff, so that they can maintain safety distances. Measures such as only allowing lifts on production platforms to be used by one person at a time have been put in place.
Pipeline Is production and the business suffering in any way from corona?
At the moment we’re managing to keep our production largely stable. Our advantage is that we produce a lot in extremely remote regions such as Siberia and Tierra del Fuego, or are relatively isolated with offshore platforms on the high seas. We also benefit from the fact that we’ve invested in digitalisation. A number of our production platforms in Norway and the Netherlands are operated unmanned, and are controlled remotely. More broadly, we established various programmes to make virtual working easier last year, shortly after the merger of Wintershall and DEA. Together, these digital investments have helped make our business more resilient at this difficult time.
Pipeline To what extent is the corona crisis threatening your business? And has your merger last year helped to make you more robust?
We, too, are affected by these developments, but Wintershall Dea is well positioned – even in this crisis. We have an extremely robust portfolio, we produce in 13 countries and at production costs that are almost half the average of our competitors. Our diversified, well-balanced portfolio, which makes us highly crisis-proof, is proving its worth here.
And yes, our merger last year – between Wintershall and DEA – came at just the right moment! May 2020 sees the first anniversary of our merger and our new company, and we are now seeing the benefits. We now face this crisis situation as a single, forward looking company. Europe’s leading, independent gas and oil company. We are leaders in terms of our production and reserves, but also in terms of our production costs, which are significantly lower than those of our competitors.
Pipeline But the oil price has plummeted dramatically. What level do you think is realistic by the end of the year?
This depends on many very different factors that are difficult to predict. But it seems evident that oil and gas prices will be significantly lower than in 2019.
Pipeline Do you expect the current crisis to have a major impact on the oil and gas industry?
Our economic environment is extremely difficult at present. In many countries, the coronavirus is sending the economy into a tailspin to an extent that we have not experienced for many years. The price development represents an extreme challenge for our industry. Even if we keep our production largely stable, we are still dependent on global market prices.
Pipeline Do you expect the corona crisis to affect your company’s sales and profits this year?
The corona crisis will have an impact on the entire global economy and also on our industry.
Pipeline Can you maintain your growth and investment targets? Will you also need to reduce costs? And will there be an impact on your business in the UAE?
We are well positioned and optimistic. We have very low production costs and at the same time very high reserves. But we have already taken steps to adapt to the new challenges: together with our shareholders, we have decided to suspend the dividend until further notice. We will use this flexibility to shore up our balance sheet.
Our investments for 2020 will be well below our previous plans at between 1.2 to 1.5 billion euros, which is a 20 per cent reduction on what we had planned only recently, and compares to a 2019 spend of around 1.5 billion euros. Our exploration budget, which will range between 150 and 250 million euros, will also be significantly lower than in 2019. We will also continue to look for opportunities to streamline our portfolio. However, we will only do so where we see appropriate long-term value.
Here in the UAE, we are a committed partner for the Ghasha concession project, an important part of our growth plans. We are proud to be a partner to ADNOC, which is part of the DNA of the UAE’s economy. We understand that ADNOC – together with us and the other IOCs involved – has to react to the current situation, and we expect and believe the project to progress.
Pipeline Wintershall Dea wants to go public. Given the stock market crash, is that still at all realistic?
It’s no secret that our shareholders want to take us public. But it’s also no secret that an IPO is always dependent on the market conditions.
This interview first appeared in the May issue of Pipeline Magazine
By: Bjorn Ewers, managing director & partner at Boston Consulting Group (BCG) & Jean-Christophe Bernardini, partner & associate director at Boston Consulting Group (BCG)
How can digital twin technology create and capture more value in asset management?
Digital twin technology enables companies to optimise operating processes, improve capital investment in a virtual world before applying them in the real one, and create and capture more value by enhancing the effectiveness of an array of value drivers including capital expenditure reduction, time-to-ﬁrst-oil acceleration, recovery rate increase, production acceleration, operating expense reduction, and health, safety, and environmental improvement.
The digital twin platform has, in one recent example, led to a signiﬁcant reduction in manhours and maintenance. Longer-term projections show a 30 per cent reduction in maintenance work, a 70 per cent reduction in shutdowns, and a 40 per cent increase in pump availability.
Where do you see gaps where this technology can be used for better integration of the value chain?
Despite oil and gas companies creating digital twins more frequently, many are still failing in their efforts to capture and beneﬁt from the potential value due to multiple reasons. For starters, they prioritise use cases for digital twins based on what the technology can do, rather than what generates the most value. Moreover, they do not structure sufficient buy-in and commitment from the end-users in their business and underestimate the extent of the changes to the ways people work that are necessary to realise value. There is no one correct approach for all companies with regard to implementing digital twin technology. Still, our experience demonstrates that sustainable companies steer clear of the aforementioned traits by implementing several essential steps while continually emphasising the importance of value.
What is driving the disruptive value creation from digital technologies?
Disruptive value creation from digital technologies continues to be driven by
two essential aspects. Firstly, oil and gas organisations are striving to become more competitive by devising business models based on innovation, with operators launching integrated or isolated operations centres and suppliers offering a higher percentage of production optimisation or maintenance as an outsourced service. The second key factor is organisations are beneﬁting from digital twin technology. They are in a position to make intelligent, decisive decisions as a result of replicating traditional processes or physical equipment through digital twins in a virtual environment. Ultimately, each digital twin of an asset or plant become more inﬂuential as a company’s digital twin use portfolio develops.
How can companies maximise the potential value capture from digital twins?
To start with, oil and gas companies would beneﬁt from considering the following:
Through these four starting points, oil and gas companies can maximise the potential value capture from digital twins by gradually building a ﬂexible IT and data infrastructure in line with evolving IT requirements, plan how to introduce a proven technology solution across an asset portfolio as effectively as possible, and evaluate how to utilise the resources available to them best to develop upcoming projects. This may entail adding functionality to existing use cases or starting new ones, and adequately preparing and devising the implementation sequence by analysing how to deliver the most value and which assets have similar work processes, stakeholders, and technology requirements are essential.
Identifying the human resources required for each asset and integrating them early so they can learn from minimum viable product development will ensure continuity between development and scaling teams. As organisations progress from scaling to daily operations, they should also ensure that the operating model and capabilities are in place to manage and maintain the digital twin as real-world conditions change.
Organisations are compelled to establish and track KPIs to monitor value creation, while sustainable governance mechanisms should be adopted to facilitate continuous development of successful digital twins and termination of ones that are not performing to expected levels. Furthermore, promoting success stories will also contribute to building momentum and support funding future digital twins.
What are the essential steps to succeed in developing digital twins?
To successfully develop high-value digital twins, there are several essential steps that companies are highly recommended to follow.
What are the main digital twin data challenges and how can these be resolved?
Data ingestion and governance can present digital twin data challenges, with legacy assets, engineering, and 3D data frequently having to be recreated from the beginning. For oil and gas companies, it’s important to prioritise essential data over available data to contain the amount of eff ort involved when scenarios such as these occur. New technologies such as laser scanning, drones, and point cloud solutions in geo referencing are all viable options as they can save companies time and reduce costs that occurred from data ingestion.
The main challenge for greenﬁeld assets is embedding digital requirements in the process of engineering, procurement, and construction. Doing so will enable the exchange of information with structured data and metadata instead of unstructured data, and it is essential to have transparent governance and ownership regimes to guarantee that data is sufficiently maintained and updated.
Upstream oil and gas companies must develop or acquire new capabilities for digital twin solutions to be effective, with traditional IT departments often discovering areas for improvement in software development, cybersecurity, data science, user interface design, and test management. Developing capabilities internally, relying on external suppliers, and choosing off -the-shelf solutions are all possibilities, and the decision should be made after establishing strategic importance in relation to controlling such capabilities.
To achieve sustainability and success, every company should develop a ﬂexible IT and data structure as part of a long-term vision, pursue a modular approach, establish clear architectural principles, and gradually build the infrastructure while identifying and applying solutions to challenges from concrete digital twin use cases.
This interview first appeared in the April issue of Pipeline Magazine
Darren Grainger, managing director at NES Global Talent discusses key issues facing the oil and gas industry today when it comes to jobs, hiring and training
As oil demand is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, what its lasting impact on the industry going forward will be is the key question on everyone’s mind.
Despite the industry running very proactive and responsive yet ever-changing HSE programmes and policies that implement, deliver and monitor compliance, the impact is very tangible, according to Grainger.
“The current travel restrictions have impacted several countries around the world, with visa cancellations from certain countries, quarantine rules and even lockdowns impacting worker movement. The geographical talent pool that companies usually tap into for searching and selecting new personnel have also been affected,” Grainger said.
In the current business environment for companies looking to hire, the main challenge will be the impact from travel restrictions as well as talent development. “The traditional demographic of nationalities in current roles in the region for expatriates is being severely challenged with new emerging talent evolving in new lesser-impacted COVID-19 affected countries,” Grainger said, adding that the talent pool within a country or in neighbouring countries is now a hugely attractive proposition for companies looking to hire.
Leverage the flexibility of technology
In this new environment of travel and personal contact restrictions, it may become challenging to recruit in the usual manner so NES is supporting its clients’ with video technology to connect them with candidates and delivering the capacity to interview anywhere through a mobile device, Grainger said.
As specialists become available over the coming weeks and months however, leveraging technology to conduct interviews and sourcing local talent will be key. “Questions can be pre-recorded for candidates to answer in their own time or clients can conduct a live interview. The link can be shared with other stakeholders, reducing the burden and overcoming current geographical constraints,” he said.
NES have over 4,000 contractors across the Middle East region, and many of these candidates are looking to stay in the region as their current assignments end, and secure another role without returning to their home country, he added.
“Given the current travel restrictions across the region, employers may be best served with focusing on candidates currently based in the region in order to keep project timelines on track,” Grainger said.
Meanwhile, clients have embraced working from home for non-essential field operations roles for expats and locals that are not on rotations. Some national operators have confirmed 28:28 rotators will remain in the country for their o‑ period and have provided accommodation given the travel re-entry restrictions, he added.
Skilled talent has been a challenge in recent years. Grainger said this is because during the last downturn graduate recruitment and apprenticeships were cut severely. Additionally, a new challenge now presents itself. “Technology skills are now in demand and conversely competition for engineering talent is now fierce with tech firms in particular that are going after the same students who would historically have chosen oil and gas,” he said.
Digitalisation impact on workforce
New disciplines and job roles have evolved in areas of data science, analytics and advanced materials development, Grainger said, adding that as the ecosystem of businesses change, that in turn impacts a more efficient supply chain. The IOC operating model for digitalising is broken down into several key functions; research and development, new approaches to fuels and products and end-to-end operations - including the supply chain. All functions can leverage new approaches to data collection and analytics and change significantly with the use of data for business improvement and to drive efficient process, Grainger said.
Separately, Grainger expects the national development vision of many Middle East countries will result in creating long-term strategy and therefore hotspots in areas of energy diversification, which will be focused in renewables and downstream. Additionally, as these countries continue to target increased production, the region itself remains a hotspot with emerging developments in East Africa.
Martin Helweg, chief operating officer, P&O Maritime Logistics spoke to Pipeline Oil and Gas News’ Julian Walker about the impact of digitalisation in the massive sector and launching a new open maritime data system
What is the new open maritime data system you are working on?
The open data system provides a single, open-source platform for vessel operators to share data and collaborate on solutions that actively improve the safety, sustainability, operational excellence and technical reliability of seafarers and vessels across the globe.
What is the reason for building the open data system?
In today’s digital age, information storage and data sharing have become a part of our lives. We exchange e-mails and messages with friends and colleagues daily irrespective of where they are located. Of course, we expect this to be true for our professional environment as well. Following the example of other industries collaborating in specific areas for the greater good improve the maritime industry as a whole.
Are you working with any partners?
Yes, with regards to the new open maritime data system, we are planning to collaborate with other OSV operators.
What kind of data will you be covering?
As a starting point, we will be focusing on HSSE data and maintenance data such as defects, however our vision, is to expand the data capture to equipment data from IoT technology.
Why is it important to have a maritime data system?
Data is a crucial commodity to unlocking real value for our clients, however it should not be a chargeable commodity, historically OEM’s have seen this as a revenue stream, but ultimately this is our data. Data is like pieces in a puzzle if you work in silos, it takes longer to finish the puzzle, but if you collaborate, you can complete the puzzle quicker.
What is your outlook for the oil and gas maritime sector?
Our industry is constantly changing and evolving. On the energy sector as a whole, the world needs to realise that the offshore energy sector will be around for many decades to come – also servicing the hydrocarbon industry, as oil and gas will remain part of the energy mix for many years. We believe that we need to inspire an informed debate about exactly that – the energy mix. We certainly want to move towards renewable sources of energy, but at the same time we need to cater for a growing demand for energy around the world. In this balance, we need to move away from the most carbon intensive fossil fuels – for example coal – and move to cleaner sources such as gas, while the whole energy infrastructure of the world transforms and scales up for renewables.
Furthermore, customers now want a handful of select, trusted, suppliers who can provide much more than one single service. The key challenge for industry players has been the ability to offer our customers a wide portfolio of value-added marine services as our clients’ demands evolve and shift towards a need for a range of services and solutions. We realised, a long time ago, that the entire industry needed to change and started by changing our own perspectives. We needed to diversify investment into our own businesses, in order to stay relevant, and create value. And with the creation of P&O Maritime Logistics, we can focus on three strategic segments – offshore, port services and logistics – creating further value for our customers.
How important is digitalisation going to be for the maritime sector?
Our customer demands are increasingly shifting towards advanced services, and having realised that a long time ago, we began to digitise aspects of our service offering in response and built advanced algorithms to optimise the supply chains of our customers.
For example, by having real-time visibility of vessel locations and applying advanced routing systems, we are able to provide our clients with better, more reliable updates on delivery of cargo. This has optimised their supply chain by improving project scheduling, reducing downtime and the need for manpower and support services.
Additionally, we have worked with several of our key customers to integrate data into their systems, also allowing us to learn more about our customers, thereby enhancing our service offering to cater to even more aspects of their businesses.
Digital is disrupting companies from their service offering through to their operations and maintenance. From customer dashboards providing customers real-time insight into the state of their operations, to the use of Internet of Things to learn more about the state of our vessels, we see IT as a driver of both the topline and of cost reductions.
Disruption is one of the five pillars of our strategy and it is important that we continue to disrupt the status quo and innovate. We are consistently working towards digitalising our ships, through onboard IoT that measures a ship’s health certificate in real time, helping us manage our fleet maintenance in the most effective way. Digitalising our entire fleet is part of our disruption mindset and how we are embracing digitalisation- making us a true 21st-century company.
We have recently signed an agreement with American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), collaborating to deliver a condition-based class (CBS) regime for the platform supply vessel, DMS Courageous. This is an exciting and historic project for us, as the vessel will become the first to utilize ABS Nautical Systems as the computerised maintenance management system to transmit planned maintenance and condition- based maintenance activities to ABS. We aim to work together, cloud-to cloud, to facilitate a seamless flow of class data from the vessel into the ABS Decision Support Center (DSC).
Last year, we also teamed up with Baker Hughes to pioneer lube oil analysis in the marine space. This analysis can tell us a great deal about the condition of our ships – from detecting the presence of water and foreign particles, to changes in temperature, which can give insight into the likelihood of equipment failure in the motor, gearbox and propellers. While it previously could take up to six weeks to receive results from a lube oil analysis, with digitisation, this process can now take place in real time, enabling maintenance to become predictive, which in turn leads to a reduction in unscheduled downtime and repair work.
This interview appeared in the March issue of Pipeline
Colby Fuser, vice president of Egypt and Libya at Halliburton speaks about the Egypt market and the company’s operations there
Which projects is Halliburton active in within Egypt?
Egypt is an important part of our portfolio, and we remain bullish about the prospects for oil and gas services and the fiscal improvements in the economy at large. Halliburton is involved in numerous projects across the country including in the deepwater Mediterranean, West Nile Delta, the Gulf of Suez and others. Halliburton has also been a key partner in several operators’ onshore exploration and development campaigns in the Western Desert and Sinai. In the Western Desert, we recently collaborated to help a customer drill the longest horizontal well in Egypt.
How have the recent Egypt exploration and production awards benefited the company?
The new awards will allow Halliburton to work closer with operators to deploy technologies that help increase production and lower costs per BOE. Halliburton’s value proposition is to collaborate and engineer solutions to maximise asset value for our customers. When the countries we work in expand their exploration plans, we collaborate and seek to achieve zero HSE incidents, no non-productive time and high service quality.
How has your business outlook in the country changed in the last year?
Halliburton is optimistic about the long-term viability of Egypt’s reserves, and we remain committed to making a positive contribution to growing hydrocarbon resources. The addition of new IOC’s and other operators reaffirm that despite challenges, the market is resilient. We also see the business changing as it relates to HSE and service quality.
Halliburton is leading the efforts to collaborate with customers and execute on best practices to help minimise risk and prevent injuries. The changes in HSE, along with the new blocks in the Mediterranean and Red Sea, provide a positive outlook for Egypt.
How is Halliburton planning to increase its oil and gas activities in Egypt?
Halliburton is involved in offshore and onshore projects to help operators increase production and lower costs per BOE. For example, our fracturing technology and subsurface insight help operators unlock reservoirs that were not commercially produced in the past. Additionally, another important factor is providing customers with the right solutions and technologies to help ensure the development and production of Egypt’s reservoirs over the long-term.
There are many examples where Halliburton technology delivered superior results including for an operator in the Mediterranean Sea where we performed one of the deepest intervention and acid stimulations that increased production.
In the Western Desert, we doubled the daily production by executing a nitrogen foam frac combined with technology to mitigate proppant flow-back. When we execute on our value proposition, our customers can accomplish more with their budgets, which creates new opportunities for Halliburton.
What is your view on the available workers resource in the country?
We are excited about the opportunity to accelerate and broaden the capabilities of Egypt’s already strong skilled workers. We focus on developing the local workforce through on-site training and enabling employees to gain experience outside of Egypt where they can eventually utilise this experience locally as the market grows.
Halliburton is investing in young and middle-management development programs to support the government’s plans. Can you share some details?
Human capital development is critical to the success of our business, and investing in our people will pay dividends by increasing the diversity and skill base of employees. The agreement we signed with the Egyptian Ministry of Petroleum & Mineral Resources offers new training opportunities to grow local talent. Halliburton introduced a customised development program for select participants to expand their capabilities and assist Egypt in its role as a leading regional oil and gas hub. The Modernization Project is an excellent step toward achieving sustainability.
We completed our phase one training, which consisted of 20 individuals who spent three months with Halliburton learning various skills.
Phase two of this training starts in March where we will select five of the 20 to travel to the U.S. for a three-month rotation. They will gain valuable experiences in leadership, operational execution, strong HSE culture and many other skills they can share with their teams upon returning to Egypt.
President and CEO of Bilfinger Middle East, Jon Rokk, speaks to Pipeline Oil and Gas News’ Nadia Saleem about the way forward for the engineering and maintenance company.
Jon Rokk, who has over 6 years’ experience in the region and over 20 years’ experience in Bilfinger’s core industries of oil & gas and chemicals & petrochemicals, took over as President and CEO of Bilfinger Middle East in the summer of 2019 and has since been working to streamline operations in the region to maximise potential opportunities.
Bilfinger has two distinct service lines, engineering and maintenance, along with technologies that support both lines of business. Around 1,400 engineers are based in the region to power its engineering services, with the bulk being based out of Oman and the UAE. Bilfinger in the Middle East also provides maintenance for assets in the utilities, power, water as well as the oil and gas sectors.
Speaking on the sidelines of the Egypt Petroleum Show 2020 in Cairo, Rokk detailed the new direction the company will be taking to grow its business in the region.
“We’re seeing great demand for high-level expertise from an engineering perspective in petrochemicals, especially in Egypt. Our German origins are 150 years old, and we’ve been in the Middle East (Kuwait) since 1968 – we have that rich heritage level of expertise, which is also proven, so we can offer value added services that our customers need,” Rokk said, pointing at one obvious growth opportunity.
In addition, the company is looking to build its strength in size as well as to leverage offshore expertise from European experience. “In the UAE for example, we are yet to develop the scale a company like Bilfinger can offer, so we have unexplored opportunities to tap into, such as the Ruwais complex which will allow us to broaden our footprint,” Rokk explained.
Meanwhile, Bilfinger has been strong in the maintenance business in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, but is looking to branch out into the oil and gas sector, which presents several opportunities.
“Because the installed base and facilities are growing up and getting older, this opens up many problems that Bilfinger can solve. This is where we come in to offer efficient and cost-effective solutions with our value-add services and technology,” Rokk said.
Additionally, Bilfinger is looking to bring to the region its expertise in turnarounds and shutdowns. In Europe, the company is among the top to deliver on time and on cost. “Many of our clients are asking us directly, when Bilfinger is going to get into doing Turnarounds? This is exciting opportunity and tells me that great untapped potential and customers are beginning to see the real value in long term relationships and partnerships,” Rokk added.
Last year, Bilfinger won multiple engineering contracts from Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), which entail the provision of front-end engineering design (FEED) for onshore facilities. Serving as one example of the company’s recent success, Bilfinger has plans to grow the stream of contract awards.
“In recent years, we’ve always grown – now there is an opportunity to grow faster but in a controlled way. We can scale up more quickly than before because we are pushing the ‘One Bilfinger Way’. This is different from how the business worked in silos earlier. If you channel the energy to deliver a more-focused operation that will allow us to grow more successfully. Partly, it’s about tapping into the core skill set that we have – we bring ideas, skill set and technology from Europe.” Rokk said.
Bilfinger is operating in a market that is challenged by several factors, stretching from lower commodity prices, a greater push from clients for better performance yet at lower costs, as well as from rising competition in the area of digitalisation.
To address these challenges, Rokk said: “You have to keep innovating, because you can’t just deliver what your competitor is delivering. Our DNA encourages change and innovation and we welcome those ideas that make a difference.” That goes hand in hand with Bilfinger’s significant efforts in digitalisation solutions and that is one way to stay ahead of competition, according to Rokk.
“Digitalisation is a buzz word but it’s about making use of data in a way that can add value to the asset owner. We’re going to our clients and running pilots to show them what we can do because we have faith and proven successes with our technology and solutions. Clients will never stop wanting more for less, but we have to figure out how to deliver solutions faster and cheaper and in a better way,” he added.
“Implementing Bilfinger’s strategy for 2020+ in the Middle East, I’m going to make sure that I help all our people to drive growth and deliver success. It’s a really exciting time for us,” he added.
This interview first appeared in the March issue
By: Ben Oudman, director and regional manager, Region Continental Europe, Middle East, India and Africa, DNV GL – Oil & Gas
As the world pivots towards a lower carbon energy future, the oil and gas industry is looking to upskill and welcome a new generation of leaders, engineers and innovators to reshape and reinvigorate the sector.
In the short-term however, concerns over skills shortages and the ageing workforce impacting company prospects have risen in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) according to new research published by DNV GL. A fifth of senior oil and gas professionals (20 per cent) cited this issue as one of the top five barriers to growth – up from 15 per cent last year. Conversely, such worries have lessened globally, down six percentage points to 15 per cent.
New Directions, Complex Choices: The outlook for the oil and gas industry in 2020 is based on a global survey of more than 1,000 people, the largest international sample in the report’s history. Now in its 10th year, the report assesses industry sentiment, confidence, and priorities, and provides expert analysis of the key challenges and opportunities for the year ahead.
An evolving workforce
Predictions and perspectives on recruitment and the needs of those considering a career in the oil and gas industry are investigated for the first time in the annual outlook report.
Unlike those questioned globally, a third of MENA respondents (33 per cent) expect their business to increase headcount for the year ahead. This opinion is comparatively unchanged from 2019 (32 per cent). In contrast, fewer people globally believe that headcount will rise, down from 34 per cent last year to 28 per cent.
The report asserts that staffing challenges now, and in the future, may be further compounded by the depth and pace of change in some parts of the sector. The impact of decarbonisation initiatives and the demands of digitalising operations are key examples, much discussed and debated by industry leaders. The report asserts that younger professionals and new entrants into the industry will likely spend much of their careers steering their organisations through this transformation.
Notably, DNV GL’s Industry Outlook survey revealed that more than half of respondents in the MENA region (55 per cent) expect their organisation to actively adapt to a less carbon-intensive energy mix in the year ahead. For instance, the study found there is a greater focus on maintaining or increasing investment in photovoltaic (PV) solar (71 per cent) and solar thermal (57 per cent) in 2020. The need for accelerated change is the most pertinent in MENA at 71 per cent compared to 25 per cent in North America.
It is anticipated that a developing renewable industry in MENA can also provide much needed diversification of local employment opportunities, viewed favourably by local governments. DNV GL is currently supporting several renewable energy projects in wind, solar and energy storage throughout the region.
While skills and experience from oil and gas are easily transferrable to alternative energy sources, operational, commercial and new practical know-how is required. Though the abilities of risk management professionals are most in demand by a quarter of global respondents (25 per cent), 10 per cent need environmental specialists.
Beyond the dawn of digitalisation
To support sustainability and improve productivity, the development and deployment of digital tools is rapidly establishing a foothold. Within 12 months, there has been an unprecedented jump in the number of those who view digitalisation as a priority, up from a third (34 per cent) in 2019 to more than half (54 per cent). Almost all respondents globally (92 per cent) expect to increase or maintain spending in this area in the year ahead.
A huge majority of MENA respondents (96 per cent versus 92 per cent globally) expect their organisation to increase or maintain spending on digitalisation in 2020. In particular, 63 per cent expect investment in cyber security to increase, up from 38 per cent a year ago.
Cyber security concerns have risen significantly in MENA with a much larger slice of spending forecast for the year ahead – more so than globally. Safely controlling and averting cyber incidents is a high priority for 35 per cent of those questioned, nearly quadrupling last year’s figure of 9 per cent. Embedding procedures and processes to counter the potential impact of an attack requires specific skills. No wonder that nearly a fifth (19 per cent) of those questioned need artificial intelligence and data specialists to join their organisation. This necessity for digital expertise is significantly higher globally at 28 per cent.
Enticing the next generation of decision-makers, engineers and innovators to lead and transform the sector is critical and complex. Just under half of MENA respondents (47 per cent) believe the industry as a whole is struggling to attract younger employees.
In summary, the survey revealed that those who believe their organisation is an industry leader in digitalisation are more confident in their company’s prospects, more resilient to volatility in the oil price, and are pursuing greater investment in the energy transition.
Craig Hayman Chief Executive Officer of AVEVA, the engineering and industrial software company, spoke exclusively to Julian Walker about why digital transformation is coming in a big way to the energy sector and how it can benefit companies and customers alike
AVEVA is a software company focused on the industrial sector for over 50 years. It started out of Cambridge University in the UK and it is proud of its academic heritage. “We employ over 70 people with PhDs and have over 4,000 employees,” said Hayman. The firm is listed on the London Stock Exchange. In the last two years, its business has tripled in size in terms of revenue and in the last 12 months, its market capitalisation has doubled. AVEVA’s revenue is about a billion dollars a year.
“I think our focus on our customers and the digitalisation of the industrial sector is one of the reasons for our success. We have a major shareholder in Schneider Electric who has a 60 per cent stake and they are also a business partner. We have benefited from this coming together,” he said. Hayman touched on the merger in March 2018 with Schneider Electric’s industrial software business.
“Together, Schneider Electric and AVEVA form a complete enterprise solution that goes beyond compatibility – there is a shared history and close relationship driving mutual innovation and product optimisation. Since combining with Schneider Electric nearly 24 months ago, AVEVA is positioned as the first company in the engineering and industrial software market to comprehensively address the end-to-end digital transformation imperatives with an integrated portfolio of solutions that deliver efficiency, unlock value and empower people across the lifecycle of capital assets and operational value chains.”
He added: “By joining Schneider Electric’s energy management and automation systems with AVEVA’s software, customers are able to benefit from solutions, which boosts visibility and control across the entire industrial lifecycle. Our integrated portfolio capability harnesses the power of technologies such as artificial intelligence, extended reality (XR), digital twin and cloud computing, coupled with the rich functionality of its industry leading applications. This capability enables companies to realise capital project efficiency, edge to enterprise visualisation, optimised value chains, safe and reliable operations, and a workforce empowered with actionable decision support.”
The energy industry is really starting to see digital transformation take place and Hayman believes this is long overdue. “The energy industry is one of the last industries to use digital technology at scale. So if you think about the major technology trends like AI, cloud computing, machine learning and big data, these trends allow the energy sector to transform themselves to be substantially digital now but other industries have been using these tools. Now it is the turn of the energy sector to embrace digitalisation,” he explained.
“Cloud computing helps reduce the cost of delivering technology to an all-time low. Digital trends such as AI and machine learning are impacting all of our lives. Now applying these technologies to the oil and gas sector is having a transformative effect on the industry. Two years ago many of our customers were just beginning to understand industry 4.0 and digital twin. Now most of our oil and gas customers have begun their own digital transformation journey.”
The digital transformation journey that many energy firms are now undertaking is a major reason why AVEVA has had a successful last few years. “Innovations within the energy sector is moving rapidly and our customers are looking for a partner to help them go through the transformational journey,” said Hayman. Focusing on digitalisation AVEVA is looking to provide innovative industrial software to transform the oil and gas industry.
“Our software solutions and platform enable the design and management of complex industrial assets deploying Industrial IoT (IIoT), Big Data and Artificial Intelligence to digitally transform industries. Our portfolio provides a digital thread across the capital asset lifecycle and operational value chains, providing real-time access to relevant and useable information at every stage and enabling customers to automate actions and make more informed decisions that help to create new ways to deliver cost savings or production efficiencies, reduce risk and to maximise margins. Through a combination of digital transformation and human insights, we help organisations manage and design assets more efficiently, increase output, reduce maintenance costs, increase safety and reach their sustainability goals.”
AVEVA is not just sitting on its laurels when it comes to talking about innovative technology. The UK firm spends a lot of time and resources on research and development. “We spend US$130 million a year on research and development. Most of this goes into new capabilities, new products. We have 150 teams of ten people and every 90 days we re-prioritise what the teams work on based on feedback from the customer. This allows us to deliver a lot of innovation,” explained Hayman.
Middle East Focus
AVEVA sees the Middle East as an important growth area and the UAE is one of the fastest growing parts of the business. “The Middle East is an exciting region to be in with visionary projects that are leading the way. They include companies such as ADNOC, Saudi Aramco and NPCC, which have incredible teams that are driving digital rapidly. They are being noticed globally for the aggressive stance in their digital approach,” said Hayman.
Digital investment priorities
AVEVA recently conducted a global survey to identify the key investment drivers for digital transformation. The survey was conducted with 1,240 decision makers in ten countries in EMEA, North America and APAC across nine industry verticals. “The focus was on what are the priorities around digital transformation because we are trying to understand how companies are thinking about it,” explained Hayman.
The research showed that there is a strong demand across both industries and markets to implement advanced technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data visualisation to make sense of vast data streams in real time, with 75 per cent of respondents globally prioritising investment in AI and analytics. Hayman talked about how the survey identified three key global investment priorities for companies when it comes to embarking upon the digital transformation journey.
The first priority focused around making sense of data, AI and real time data visualisation. “Our survey found that there is a lot more focus on data visualisation here in the UAE, while the rest of the world put AI as more important. In fact, Middle East organisations put 3D visualisation at double the importance compared to the rest of the world. They also put IoT/Edge at double the level of importance versus the rest of the world,” noted Hayman.
The second focus was around fostering collaboration in advanced process and engineering design. For example, advanced process and engineering design was the second most important technology (74 per cent) and was in the top three technology priorities across all industries globally, scoring highest among engineering, procurement and construction professionals.
“I think the digital data between the design of a facility and the handover/ operations has been siloed in the past. What we are seeing now is that operators want not just the physical handover but the digital as well. We can see the digital transformation help break silos,” he said. The third focus was on setting up cyber security and safety capabilities. Hayman mentioned that the survey showed improving safety and security through technology investment was a priority across all regions, with the Middle East (68 per cent), Australia (63 per cent) and India (60 per cent) particularly highlighting this issue.
The oil and gas sector is the largest contributor to AVEVA’s revenue, according to Hayman. “Out of the 45 per cent revenue generated from this sector, 10 per cent is generated from Capex linked to manufacturing of plants and refineries, and 35 per cent is generated from OPEX linked to operational improvements.”
What Hayman is seeing in the energy sector though is that globally the turnover of the oil and gas industry has been steadily declining due to macroeconomic conditions. “A few years ago, the total capital spending on projects by this market segment was $450 billion per annum. Since then it has fallen to $250 billion, but remains steady at $250 billion.
There is huge growth potential for our services as currently the amount of digital penetration in this industry is small and oil and gas companies are definitely investing in accelerating their digital transformation initiatives,” Hayman said.
Hayman did end by saying that AVEVA was getting better at operating as a business and the numbers reflect that.
“We have said that over the medium term (three years) we are going to grow our top line revenue above the market. We are growing our margins by 30 per cent. Subscriptions/reoccurring revenues make up about 16 per cent of our revenue. We said we would grow our reoccurring revenue in three years and we have achieved our 16 per cent goal two years early. I think this is a sign that companies want to have access to data.”
Ashraf Koheil, regional director, MEA – FireEye talked to Pipeline Magazine about the type of cyber-attacks the energy sector can face and what companies should look to do
What is FireEye’s cyber security strategy going forward?
At FireEye, our mission is to relentlessly protect our customers with the technology and expertise acquired from being on the frontlines of cyber-attacks. We know technology alone is not enough to combat the current threat landscape, so we deliver a complete suite of detection, protection, response capabilities and intelligence consulting to protect organisations against the most advanced threats.
What are your customers’ top priorities when it comes to cyber security?
Our customers look to us to ensure they are protected against cyber-attacks from every angle. With FireEye staff spending more than 1 million hours per year on the front line of attacks, customers trust and depend on our real-time knowledge of the threat landscape. They look for partners that can deliver not only on technology, but the context and threat intelligence to back it up.
How are cyber security attacks on the oil and gas sector evolving?
The oil and gas industry is a prime target for all types of cyber-attacks. Nation-state actors, rogue terrorists, criminals and hacktivists have varying motives, including sabotage, espionage, financial gain, or political causes. The energy industry will likely continue to be a high priority target, particularly given its importance to national and economic security. We expect the following situations may further contribute to threat activity towards the industry:
What are the major hurdles companies face when looking to implement a cyber security strategy?
We recently issued our Cyber Trendscape Report which surveyed over 800 IT executives across the globe to help organisations benchmark their cyber security initiatives. Part of the report looked at challenges that companies face with their cyber strategy. The report showed that many factors impact the maturity of an organisation’s cyber security programme and its ability to be resilient against cyber threats. According to our findings, organisations reported that the main challenges they faced when it comes to implementing cyber security strategies were primarily IT and security technology maturity (over 80 per cent) followed by IT and security process maturity (80 per cent) and then visibility into threats (70 per cent). A majority of organisations (63 per cent) also indicated that it was a challenge to balance cyber security and day-to-day IT operational requirements. Looking at these results, it’s clear to us that organisations need a trusted cyber security partner who can help alleviate some of these pain points.
ABB Energy Industries’ India, Middle East & Africa senior vice president – hub manager Christian Cravedi and vice president, hub business line digital manager Ronan O’Sullivan speak to Pipeline Magazine’s Nadia Saleem about strategies that are supporting the energy world’s shift towards a sustainable, digital future
How is ABB supporting a step change in the development and delivery of the global energy system?
Cravedi: Our approach is through a strong value chain with a value proposition, which is digital as well as sustainable.
We are very much focused on the technology part of the full chain with the latest solutions and services across the chain. At ABB, we are in front of the challenge of integrating all these different technologies into a single platform to be digitally enabled. As we enter a digital environment, we focus on the 3S – to be much safer, smarter in our solutions, and more sustainable.
Our sustainable solutions are very much driven by the digital value proposition and long-term partnerships.
Usually, sustainability is about the environment, but when we talk about this region, we enter discussions about in-country-value (ICV) development.
The ICV sustainability process means to supply as much as we can from the country for the country and making sustainable the national’s employment.
Through the value chain of ABB, which is very much focused on long-term partnership, ABB has a different approach compared to that of a typical technology provider. Whatever we do in terms of adding value, it is to make it sustainable. While EPC developers come in, develop and move on to the next job – this is not going to create sustainable Emiratisation environment.
O’Sullivan: As we transition into a digital perspective on how we are addressing sustainability globally: it is necessity from the customer first and foremost. This poses the question of how can we extend the lifecycle of their existing equipment and what we can do from a digital prescriptive and enhance how their equipment is running.
We’re really applying newer technology now in order to have the whole value chain from supply to demand as well as long-term sustainability as well as reliability. This is how we see digital fitting into our industry, which is oil, gas, chemical, power and water.
What strategy do you use to capture regional growth and secure your position in the years ahead?
Cravedi: ABB always has a global strategy but there is also local strategy - ABB is a global company, acting very much into local environment. This is the reason why we have been in the UAE for 30 years, acting locally.
In the UAE, where ADNOC wants to drive the market, this is aligned with ABB’s value proposition as well as the execution model. We are very much about digital - doing more with less but do it even better and more sustainably.
Being local is extremely embedded into our DNA and localisation is what markets in this region are asking for. The demands of the market have been matching our value proposition and our execution, because that is how we established our business here. ICV for us doesn’t generate new contribution but a confirmation that our model is fit for this.
How is the energy transition and digital transformation playing out for ABB?
Cravedi: ABB is always a moving company and we are readjusting and tuning our organisation to support the market demand. We created a new business line 10 years ago called Energy Industries – this is matching the current demand in terms of the energy revolution within oil, gas, chemicals, power and water.
We are going to move into something more sustainable in terms of energy, which doesn’t mean there will be no hydrocarbon but it’s going to be much more fluid energy with integration between oil, gas, and power sector. This is going to be a full chain of value, and ABB has had that approach from the very beginning.
Historically, ABB was a pioneer in technology, but also in seeing how the trend of the market is going in order to be aligned with it.
Our customers are basically stretching their own value chain, we’ve seen this in Saudi Arabia, where from a typical refinery, the project plans evolved into a multi-product refining complex. So all the flexibility of logistics has to be built in so your resources are utilised in the best way.
Today, we can fully showcase the ABB-enabled solutions in Sadara, the biggest petrochemical complex ever built in one single shot. The next step is to make it digital.
O’Sullivan: From a technology standpoint, we’ve been pioneers and innovators of technology for many centuries now. Where we’re focused now is on supporting companies that were traditionally oil and gas but are now becoming energy companies and even buyers of electricity.
With the growth of solar and wind in the mix of renewable energy into the whole value chain, we look at how we take our technology and give visibility over that entire value chain of supply and demand.
As the energy mix grows, we will be able to supply the right technology right when it’s needed. We’re currently having small pilots of these technologies.
Because companies are evolving in their energy sources as well, this is what we’re seeing as our new ABB ability, which is our overall platform, our hardware and software connectivity. So when the time comes for this added connectivity source, we will be ready to service our customers.
You briefly mentioned Sadara – can you also speak about your new models where solutions are integrated and how this plays a role in the shift towards digitalisation?
O’Sullivan: What we find is demand from our customers around five pillars. Safety and cyber security is the primary and most focus-on pillar of all – this is where we have developed solutions that take into account the overall safety of the facility as well as multiple facilities from a human safety aspect as well as human safety aspect.
Then we move into sustainability and reliability, where asset performance management comes into play. There is a big demand from the market and all of our users on how to extend the lifecycle on all existing equipment and how to reduce cost from unplanned shutdowns for example.
Us being able to provide them technology which give insight into their equipment, plan for the right outages as well as suggest the right repair measures around types of equipment.
Energy management is another big pillar for us – now there is renewable energy coming into the mix of traditional energy markets - we look at how we can manage the supply and demand from an energy perspective.
Then we get into simulation and digital twin as another pillar. This is really enabling knowledge from the retiring workforce into the new workforce. There was a major gap for engineering students wanting to go down that path, which is being bridged by the transferring of knowledge and training through the digital twin and simulation.
Lastly, we have operational management, where we giving insight into how companies are running their operations and connecting IT with OT environment, being able to integrate the running facilities as well as any type demand coming in from ERP systems, being able to generate KPI and looking at ways to optimise their entire processes – not only on running facilities but also how they are managing supply and demand to their customers, so trying to give them an advantage with our technology.
By: Siva Krishnan, Head of Siemens Oil & Gas in the Middle East and North Africa
Egypt is on the verge of transitioning from a net importer of gas into a regional gas hub, thanks to massive offshore discoveries in the Eastern Mediterranean. But abundance is only part of the equation – Egypt’s golden gas age hinges on the technology it selects that will optimise production while minimising the environmental impact.
The Arab world’s most populous country has enjoyed political stability and an economic revival in recent years which has spurred investments, especially in the energy industry. This optimism is a reversal of several years of rising domestic gas consumption and dwindling production that forced the temporary closure of Egypt’s two liquefied natural gas export facilities and all but halted investment in the sector.
A major find in 2015, about 200km off Egypt’s coast in the Eastern Mediterranean, was the turning point. The giant offshore Zohr field, with an estimated 30 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves, has transformed Egypt’s prospects, provided the country additional clout in the energy market and presented opportunities for further offshore development.
Egypt’s natural gas reserves doubled in the past two decades to 2.1 trillion cubic meters, according to the latest BP Statistical Review of World Energy. Gas output grew at the second-fastest rate in the world in 2018, and with new concessions awarded and continued exploration activity, most forecasts predict significant increases in both production and reserves.
The technology needed to extract gas from under the Mediterranean, process and transport it, is well established. But given the constraints that “lower for longer” oil and gas price forecasts have on energy companies, and the urgent need to tackle the challenges of climate change and massively reduce CO2 and other emissions, the industry is increasingly turning to technology that lowers lifecycle costs, optimises output and protects the planet.
Offshore oil and gas developers are taking advantage of technological advances and going for deeper and more complex fields, whether it’s by platforms or floating production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessels. This has presented many technical challenges with regards to topsides development, which has become more complex in recent years. Equipment must be small and light, but still robust enough to meet project requirements for processing, production, transportation, serviceability and reliability.
Siemens has taken strategic steps to help the industry overcome these challenges by developing power and compression solutions that conserve weight and space, while providing the necessary power to exploit deep-water reserves.
A recent project in the Barents Sea included a 41 MW Siemens SGT-750 gas turbine that drives two high-efficiency Siemens DATUM compressors operating in a tandem arrangement. The turbine features a unique design that eliminates the need for a speed-increasing gearbox, which reduces the weight and footprint of the package. It has extended maintenance intervals – designed for 17 days in 17 years – ensuring production uptime and profitability, and lowering operating expense as well.
In the Eastern Mediterranean, we will supply the full electrical scope, together with four Siemens SGT-400 gas turbines, waste heat recovery units, a flash gas compressor, and two sales gas compressors for an FPSO that’s expected to be commissioned next year. The equipment will produce both electricity and heat to extract and process the production at sea, as well as export the gas to shore.
Unique to this FPSO is the first ever full-scale deployment of Topsides 4.0, which is Siemens’ holistic digital lifecycle approach to rotating equipment and electrical and automation systems.
Topsides 4.0 begins during the conceptual and design phase of a project. The approach reduces capital and operating expenses, shortens project development cycles, minimises interfacing risk and decreases offshore manpower requirements. This is achieved by digital project management and manufacturing, virtual testing and commissioning, and delivery of an intelligent “digital twin” of the facility, which can be used by operators for lifecycle decision-making and asset optimisation.
With the digital twin, engineers have continuous access to as-is asset data and can plan maintenance campaigns based on condition monitoring analytics. An integrated control and safety system solution is designed for remote control and monitoring, which improves safety and reduces costs by shifting labour resources from offshore to onshore. Combined, these benefits can reduce operating expenditures by 10 per cent to 15 per cent each year.
Siemens has a long track record in Egypt and has participated in one of the country’s most transformative projects. Along with our partners, we built three of the world’s biggest gas-fired, combined cycle power plants, delivering an additional 14.4 gigawatts to the electric grid in just 27.5 months. The H-class turbines at Beni Suef, Burullus and New Capital are among the world’s most efficient, contributing to $1 billion a year in fuel savings and a significant reduction in CO2 emissions.
Siemens also has a role in Egypt’s offshore developments. The company supplied six model SGT-400 industrial gas turbines and associated electrical generators to Petrobel, the joint venture between Italy’s Eni and Egypt’s General Petroleum, which is developing the Zohr field. This turbine-generator system provides about 20 per cent more power than comparable equipment.
Egypt isn’t limiting its potential to the Zohr windfall. Further development of Eastern Mediterranean gas is underway, and a pipeline network linking supplies from Israel and potentially Cyprus can convert the fuel into LNG for export at the Idku and Damietta plants. This cross-border economic cooperation has been formalised in a new organization, the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum, which will be based in Cairo and currently comprises Egypt, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Italy and Jordan.
The prospects in the Eastern Mediterranean are undeniable. With Egypt’s recent track record of building some of the world’s most-efficient power plants, it’s clear that its energy industry is serious about reducing fuel and lifecycle costs and cutting emissions. Siemens portfolio is well suited to the task of helping Egypt improve the overall economics and environmental footprint of its offshore natural gas industry, and ultimately, enter its golden gas age.