ITF Showcase 2015: Guest editor Dr Patrick O’Brien, chief executive of ITF, calls for collaboration

Dr Patrick O'Brien, chief executive of ITF
Dr Patrick O'Brien, chief executive of ITF
Opinion by Dr Patrick O'Brien

As the ITF Showcase kicks off in Aberdeen this week Dr Patrick O’Brien, chief executive of ITF, has taken up the role of Energy Voice’s guest editor. Follow along each day as he spells out the challenges and triumphs the industry faces.

Oil and gas joint industry projects have made a significant contribution to technological progress over many decades, but as an industry we need to be more strategic to maximise UK production in the years ahead.

Collaboration is the great buzz word of the moment and was a key theme of the Wood Review. It has been at the heart of what we do at ITF since we launched in 1999, at a time of low oil prices and operating challenges.

A focus on collaborative efforts to get technology qualified, trialed and implemented in the field is particularly important for the industry at this time.

With any innovation comes risk, but collaboration should be a catalyst for companies to take a chance.

Whilst too much analysis can stifle innovation, by collaborating to share insights and lessons learned, we can create a platform to encourage positive engagement and investment in new ideas.

It is in everybody’s interest to maximise recovery and deliver cost efficiencies, particularly during a challenging low price operating environment.

That means we need to think carefully about the UK’s priority themes, so that technology developers are not ‘chasing rainbows’ but are organising their development plans with what the operators want to see in action and are much more likely to fund.

The industry should also carefully consider the optimum make-up of a collaborative project. For some, such as those based on data sharing or developing good industry practice, a large number of industry participants may be essential.

For others, too many participants will be a hindrance.

These projects can deliver better results with a greater focus by fewer companies with a strong desire to see the particular technology developed quickly and deployed.

There will always be competitive areas of technology development in which organisations do not want to join forces. However, there are also common needs that present barriers to development and offer opportunities for collaborative working – this is where JIPs can play a very valuable role, leveraging funding and accelerating progress.

That is why there are very specific themes at the Technology Showcase. We want this to be an open dialogue between the operator end users and the technology development community.

It is in everyone’s interests to work together to get new solutions into operation as early as possible.

That is where we can learn important lessons from other industries such as aerospace and automotive. A move to standardisation can be replicated by the oil and gas industry in some important areas to drive cost efficiencies.

Now is the time to commit to collaboration. Despite the current recession, there is still a significant hydrocarbon prize to be recovered.

New technologies that enable more efficient drilling or allow industry to better target hard to reach reserves or provide the robotics to enable safer inspections and monitoring are actively being sought.