£1.5bn North Sea savings if sector ‘sorts out’ data issue, tech boss claims

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A tech boss has claimed that £1.5 billion North Sea savings could be made if the sector “sorted out” its relationship with big data.

Stephen Ashley, digital solutions manager with the Oil and Gas Technology Centre (OGTC), said by using the data at its fingertips and “looking at other basins” North Sea operators could lower costs substantially.

Mr Ashley was referring to a joint study by the UK oil and gas industry’s Technology Leadership Board, the OGTC and the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA), published today.

The report claims that adopting data analytics and digital technologies for asset maintenance and operations could increase production and lower maintenance costs by billions of pounds each year.

Mr Ashley said: “We’re trying to drive a step change in product efficiency, but the way we’re doing it needs to be sorted out – we have it and but we need to know how to use it.

“Although we’re collecting it we’re not particularly good at setting it up to be used. If you look at other industries, that’s the route they’ve taken.”

According to the new study, the failure of offshore equipment, such as gas compression, oil export, power and water injection systems, resulted in lost production of around 110 million barrels of oil equivalent in the North Sea in 2017.

Mr Ashley said that the data gleaned from sensors on existing rigs is being underused, and that it could point to future savings for the North Sea.

But he added that lessons can also be learned from looking at other basins and sectors.

He said: “What’s really important is figuring out where to focus, and actually take the time to look at what is going on in other basins, what is going on in other industries?

“We didn’t just talk to operators, we spoke to those in the supply chain. A lot of the older platforms are collecting a lot of data with sensors. What that means is that we can show a trend on a chart, but what we need is the expertise and the personnel to spend time looking at the trends, understand what they mean and take some action.

“More analytics would help individuals identify areas of concern on North Sea assets.”

Despite 60% of the respondents to the study claiming data infrastructure “is in place”, the conclusion of the report still found improvement in infrastructure could yield a 15 to 20% overall maintenance cost to operators.

Mr Ashley added: “The stage we’re at is the data is being collected but as an industry we’re not applying it consistently and therefore there’s a big opportunity to be looking at this from a maturity perspective.