Oil and gas companies are putting their competitiveness to one side and are overcoming a reluctance to share data, an industry chief has said.
Elisabeth Torstad, chief executive of DNV GL – Oil & Gas, said the oil industry will find it easier to catch up with other sectors in adopting digitalisation than many people expect.
She was speaking on the sidelines of Offshore Europe 2017 in Aberdeen, where a number of industry leaders said oil lagged behind other sectors in capitalising on the “digital revolution” and making use of data.
But Ms Torstad said oil companies were embracing new ways of working, including standardisation, new business models and digitalisation.
She said the trend was both “important and reassuring”.
Ms Torstad said: “Automation and digitalisation are good ways of reducing costs.
“Oil and gas has been behind many other industries in terms of digitalisation of work processes and project management through the supply chain using digital tools.
“The aeronautical and automotive industries have very much been ahead, but it’s easy to catch up. Oil and gas is finally taking the time to do that.
“There is a lot of new technology around and more big data – a lot of things are available which weren’t a few years ago. So I see lots of opportunities for enhancing operations and reducing costs.”
Ms Torstad, who will become chief executive of DNV GL’s new digital solutions business area at the start of next year, also said companies’ attitudes had changed and that a spirit of collaboration was more evident.
She said: “We are coming from a position where everyone had data but was focused on not sharing and giving away an advantage. More companies are open to sharing now. There is still an issue with old assets with trapped data but we are overcoming the sharing issue.”
Ms Torstad said the oil industry was also making “great strides” in shaking off the belief that automation and unmanned systems are a subsea phenomenon.
“Now we are moving to unmanned surface operations and there are big movements in automated drilling and production,” she said.
Mr Torstad said companies can go further when it comes to taking people out of the decision-making process.
“As an industry we’ve been viewing digitalisation as a way to reduce work processes or information gathering, but we have to make the right steps when it comes to making decisions on an automatic basis,” she said.
“There are still opportunities to reduce the human actor element. There are huge opportunities going forward in reshaping decision processes, overall.”
DNV GL – Oil & Gas, technical advisor to the global oil and gas industry, used Offshore Europe to launch its recommended practice (RP) for implementing measures to protect operational technology from cyber attacks.
The organisation said the benefits of digitalisation were profound, but caused cyber risks to emerge, particularly in relation to automated, unmanned, integrated and remote operations which are accessible online. Almost 68% of oil and gas companies were affected by at least one significant cyber incident in 2016, and many attacks are assumed to be undetected or unpublished, DNV GL – Oil & Gas said.
Its RP provides guidance on how to use the IEC 62443 series of standards for projects and operational phases.
In a nutshell, IEC standards define what to do, while the RP describes how to do it.
DNV GL – Oil & Gas said successful implementation of the standards would reduce the risk of cyber-security incidents, lowers operators’ costs by reducing the resources needed to define requirements, and simplify audits.
The RP was the result of a two-year-long joint industry project with partners Shell, Statoil, Woodside, Lundin, Siemens, Honeywell, ABB, Emerson and Kongsberg Maritime.
Pal Borre Kristoffersen, project manager, DNV GL – Oil & Gas, said: “Industry players need confidence that security countermeasures can deal with more frequent and sophisticated cyber attacks, which are becoming increasingly costly and harder for companies to recover from.
“Dealing with cyber-security challenges has become a key focus area for the oil and gas sector, and there is greater awareness of the requirements that need to be in place.
“There has, until now, been a lack of guidance for the oil and gas industry on how to implement these requirements.
“The new RP, developed in collaboration with key players, puts operational technology, together with IT, in the limelight, so the oil and gas industry can protect their operations.”