8 ways technology is revolutionising the oil and gas industry

A flagship report by Intergraph Process entitled 8 Technology Innovations Revolutionising the Oil & Gas Industry sheds light on the new and innovative ways the oil and gas industry is driving efficiency and productivity.

Intergraph produced the report after consultation with its oil and gas customers, including leading global Fortune 500 owners operators and engineering companies, who were asked to provide feedback on the technologies that are making the biggest difference to productivity at all stages of the asset life cycle – from design and engineering, to construction, and finally into operations and maintenance.

Intergraph Process, Power & Marine’s executive vice president Asia-Pacific Franz Kufner said, “Given the current global economic conditions, oil and gas companies are always looking for innovative ways to not only create efficiency gains on greenfield projects, but also to extract the maximum value from existing brownfield plants and assets. This is especially true as the industry moves from an exploration to production phase, with several major projects in Australia and abroad scheduled to come online during 2015.”

“This report reveals that innovation in oil and gas comes down to two key factors: information management and communication,” Kufner added.

The 8 technology trends observed were:

1) It all starts with material management

The report said there are enormous advantages to implementing an advanced materials management system as early on as possible – ideally before planning even commences.

“Given that today’s projects involve more contractors, fabricators and other suppliers than ever before, the efficient management of materials such as pipes, valves, pumps, and tanks is an issue that affects all stages of the project.”

2) Pick an engineering design system, and stick with it
According to the report, designers switching engineering design systems from project to project is a problematic scenario.

“Just like a race team, companies that want to optimise their people and processes to get the highest performance possible must focus their expertise on a single engineering design system.

“Not only is there the issue of higher costs for managing multiple systems, but also the fact that your best people are split across these systems.”

3) Stop reinventing the wheel
The report said one of the industry’s most important trends is Model Data Reuse in a collaborative environment.

“It is in complex contracting arrangements involving multiple contractors and sub-contractors where the beauty of Model Data Reuse comes to the fore.

“Designers are able to share designs and models for reuse by other parties involved in the design process, creating efficiencies that shave work hours and ultimately, costs.”

4) Modular design is a must
Another “very important”  trend for the oil and gas industry, the report said, is that of modular design.

“With project budgets getting tighter and tighter, it makes sense that companies are sourcing parts and materials from all over the world – not just in the local area of the project. This means that systems need to be designed to be ‘taken apart’ – with due consideration for the fact that individual components will be sourced and shipped separately.”

Read a case study on how Japanese engineering company Chiyoda establishes materials management systems for mega projects.

5) It’s all about working together
“Anyone with a focus on productivity should be thinking about how a project’s various systems work with each other at all stages of the asset life cycle. Any single solution could have numerous bells and whistles, however if it doesn’t ‘talk’ or work with your systems, the benefits will be minimal.”

The report said this is especially true in the:

  • execution phase of a project, where average work crews spend one third of overall work time idle and waiting; and,
  • interface management, where a typical CAPEX project will have 20 to 100 separate interfaces that need to be managed.

6) Prepare for handover
The report recommended that oil and gas companies work closely with their technology provider to customise a handover solution that makes sense to the project.

“The handover of data and documentation occurs many times during the project life cycle, with project participants having to deal with a continuous flow of information from suppliers and contractors.

“This means often tens of thousands of documents, and hundreds of thousands of records, which must be validated and organised before handover.”

7) Get your head in the Cloud
The report said Cloud technology is at the cutting edge of oil and gas innovation, and touted its benefits when it comes to working in a consistent environment and saving on costs.

“A central repository of data is established across multiple locations, companies and business units within those companies.

“The financial benefits of working in the Cloud are significant. Cloud technologies eliminate the need to implement new hardware, networks and staff, which means capital expenditure can be reserved for investment in resource-producing assets.”

Read a case study on how Shell is innovating in the Cloud.

8) It all starts (and ends) with clean data
Intergraph conducted a recent survey in the energy and resources industries, which found that:

    • 52 per cent of respondents spent 20 per cent or more of their time looking for information;
    • 7 per cent spent between 60 and 80 per cent of their time looking for information; and,
    • 61 per cent lacked complete confidence in their ability to locate information in an emergency situation.
  • “It’s time to start thinking of your brownfield asset as just another system within your business – one which requires clean data to run effectively. For many plants, this will mean the commencement of a data cleansing project.”

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