I write out of exasperation at what still goes on in the Oil & Gas industry despite the oil price situation and the seeming refusal to buy-in from operators/vendors/manufactures to more innovative (thus more cost attractive) solutions in such challenging times.

Until recently, I have been Technical Director of a sizeable EPCI company (roughly 1000 employees worldwide) for 22yrs. I have 30+yrs experience designing and managing computer based process control systems and integration projects in the Energy Sector, particularly fault tolerant process controls, safety systems, and control room re-instrumentation. I was responsible for some of the first subsea controllers to go into the North Sea. Since then, hundreds more projects both onshore and offshore from concept to through to commissioning, worldwide. I have undertaken FEED studies and consultancy for major plants in UK, Europe & Middle East with respect to control room re-instrumentation and the live installation of replacement systems, either new or retro-fit. And more recently I have concentrated on AIM/ALE and Obsolescence to developed tools and innovative solutions that are cost attractive in the current climate. Thus I like to think I am well placed to comment specifically in response to the present situation.

As the oil & gas industries face up to the challenges of the ongoing oil price situation, there has never been a better time for companies to maximise the benefits innovation can bring to their businesses.

Compression Systems; in last 2yrs, we conceived/designed/implemented retro-migration- upgrades for compressor controls, saving 75% over traditional ‘rip n replace’ strategies. Proof of concepts done, six installs to date, literally 100’s more remain in UKCS. But despite what they say, Operators still see innovation as risk and manufacturers are only really interested in replacement projects or none at all.

Inventory Management; in last 4yrs, we pioneered Obsolescence Assessment ALE/AIM etc. using databases to document to ‘cabinet/rack/slot’ level. Additionally, for OE2015, we demonstrated automated data collection device for same using an innovative application of an existing Ex inspection tool to build these databases directly offshore so speeding up the gathering process by about 50%. Or rather a cost saving of 50%. Only about 1/3 rd of UKCS assets have this data and their AIM/ALE position under control.

Efficiency savings; standardisation and prescription are key to efficiency savings (while being careful not to lose customer focus or infringe IPR) we should be mindful one projects innovation is several more’s tried and tested. Bringing tried and tested innovation to the table is a win-win discriminator. Sharing data without compromising IPR likewise. See Compressors above.

Innovation, Cooperation, Culture and Behaviours; upgrades that are ‘not new right through’ deliver the latest and greatest in the old box saving a fortune. Acceptance, consensus and compromise towards new innovative solutions to old problems (over conventional rip n’ replace) are key to making ‘change’ work. The old adage of JRE’s ticking every box on the SDRL could stop, vendor/manufacturers will always deliver but at a cost, more accurately picked documentation sets deliver significant time-cost savings. And finally, vendor/manufacturers have got to accept rip n’ replace is not the only way.

Operators/Vendors/Manufacturers must all work together and collectively using Digital Technology to share data and bring about change while there is still something left.

This article is for information and discussion purposes only and does not form a recommendation
to invest or otherwise. The value of an investment may fall. The investments referred to in this
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