In the world of the operator, safely driving productivity and efficiency is at the top of the priority list.
And in the North Sea, progress is being made … it takes time and its tough, but its progress nonetheless.
A few weeks ago, the Oil and Gas Authority published its UKCS Production Efficiency in 2016 report which demonstrated both points very well … that gains are being made, but a far greater prize is waiting to be captured.
The OGA’s review found that production efficiency (PE) rose for the fourth consecutive year, reaching 73% PE and contributing to an extra 12 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe) in 2016. But it also found there is “significant scope for more efficiency improvements”.
The OGA firmly believes that the potential exists to really move the needle and increase PE to 80%. Now, that increase might not sound huge to outsiders looking in, but had that improvement been made last year, an extra 220,000 boe per day would have been produced … worth around £2.8bn. Not bad for a 7% increase.
Now, let’s not downplay the progress that has been made. In 2008, PE was recorded at 76% but fell to just 60% in 2012. So, no question, significant improvements have been made in terms of both PE and the actual volume of hydrocarbons produced overall.
In case you’re not familiar, production losses are the result of several factors – mainly plant outages, well degradation and pipeline export issues – and it’s in this area that a great deal of work has been carried out by operators, industry partners and regulatory bodies, like the OGA.
Initiatives and cross-industry groups including the Production Efficiency Task Force and the Asset Stewardship Task Force are providing much-needed guidance and fostering stronger links between operations, technology providers, service companies and supply chain as a whole.
Tackling production losses really needs a collaborative approach from all players – it takes a combination of sharing best practices and developing smart, disruptive technology and solutions.
The OGA’s Maximising Economic Recovery (MER) initiative aims to help operators extend the economic life of assets and that’s something we’re mirroring today. We’re working with other industry partners to provide existing and new entrants to the North Sea with a range of services that will not only increase production and cut operational cost, but also identify opportunities to reduce downtime through unplanned outages. That includes project management, topside and subsea engineering, construction and commissioning, and field optimization solutions, with a particular focus on flow stimulation and intervention opportunities.
And digitizing operations is what everyone’s talking about today.
Consider this: only an estimated 3-5% of oil and gas equipment is “connected” – meaning that the data it generates is actually captured and made available for review. There’s a clear opportunity for companies to tackle servicing and maintenance costs, and cut out unnecessary downtime…so long as they can get their hands on the data, and have the means to analyze it.
Right now, most data collected from upstream operations isn’t used to optimize operations or asset performance. The average offshore platform has something in the region of 30,000 sensors that are generating data. But, less than 1% of this data is used to inform decisions. The data gets stuck in “data graveyards” and is never analyzed.
We developed Asset Performance Management (APM) software that connects upstream assets to the digital world by capturing and managing the data generated by sensors on plant equipment and making it available to the operator. Companies can use the insights provided to automate processes, improve maintenance, reliability and PE. Machines and equipment can be monitored digitally, and analytics from the data generated can be used to predict and diagnose issues early.
Think of it this way: what if the dashboard in your car only displayed the speed you’re travelling at but not the distance you’ve travelled or the amount of fuel that’s available? When do you take it to the filling station? How will you know it needs filling up? Do you just guess? It’s hard to make more informed decisions when the information required isn’t available to you.
One recent industry study found that – on average – offshore oil and gas operators endure unplanned downtime that costs between $49 million and $88 million annually and that operators using a predictive, data-driven approach to maintenance can cut unplanned downtime by 36%, making annual savings of $17 million. That’s only one example but it paints a clearer picture of why the industry is increasingly recognizing how ‘digital’ will be the difference-maker.
We’re moving in the right direction and it’s crucial that we continue to make a concerted, collaborative effort as an industry, and embrace the digital industrial revolution.
Nick Dunn, Services & Offshore Leader, Oilfield Equipment, BHGE