In a sector where investment projects remain low due to the price collapse in 2014 and under the pressure of profitability and delays, IT continues to be a key catalyst for oil and gas companies. All companies, regardless of their size, agree to consider digital as a lever to work more agile and to do more with less. Hege Wroldsen, Director of IFS Oil & Gas Center of Excellence, details 4 key trends that will transform this sector this year.
1. Replace traditional models with more agile models based on quality of service
According to Research and Market , the global IT spending of the oil and gas industry will reach $ 48.5 billion by 2020 – one of the key drivers of growth is the optimization of resource performance. Field activities and IT tend to converge with the arrival of new technologies such as the Internet-of-Things which are real levers of optimization and agility and, today, financially more accessible. Their democratization will enable large companies, but also smaller ones, to transform their asset management systems and improve their productivity.
The oil and gas industry was one of the first to deploy connected sensors. In 2017, we will be able to observe a massive deployment of these objects and therefore an exponential number of collected data that will have to be processed by companies to have an impact on their activities. These investments made in recent years will generate, in 2017, real yields allowing the sector to build financial models offering services based on performance and no longer on fixed rates.
Some companies also understand that their asset management systems, while agile and flexible enough, can be further enhanced by integrating and analyzing data to develop more “intelligent” services. The collection and processing of data from connected equipment will lead to better forecasts and better results – protecting the turnover of the smallest companies. More importantly, these new sources of data will bring new service models that demand and performance-based pricing rather than a fixed, standard form.
2. Aging assets: maintain or replace them?
In the oil and gas industry, market volatility has led to lower expenditures for large-scale maintenance and asset replacement. However, these continue to be used. The longer a company delays the maintenance of its assets, the more it takes risks from an operational, security or environmental point of view.
It is therefore difficult for these companies to catch up on the lost productivity gains – as for example, this was the case for North Sea Backlog last year – especially since the workforce was largely reduced in 2014 To carry out complex maintenance projects, companies are forced to make greater use of temporary work. According to Accenture , “Temporary employees, who represent perhaps 30 to 50 percent of a typical energy company, are often poorly managed, underutilized and un-optimized. “
To optimize downsizing and temporary staff, stay competitive and control costs, it is imperative for the company to have the right tools for planning and executing complex projects, but also for managing the payroll. However, the many software programs that often coexist in companies only add complexity and cost. An innovative approach based on a suite of applications and modules dedicated to operational planning, rotation and team planning is needed today. IT agility promotes more efficient deployment and therefore faster implementations of these high-cost projects.
3. Make the most of existing technologies
Companies that can deploy new projects will continue to do so with fewer staff. However, without adequate resources, they may not be able to execute the most complex projects. Problems related to the quality of the maintenance appear, more particularly in the offshore environments. Engineers with the most seniority remain on the job because of their experience or are thanked for their relatively high cost. On the other hand, there is a real lack of young engineers to fill this gap, as they are more inclined to easily adopt new technologies.
Technology is at your fingertips. Drones give the possibility to inspect equipment that is difficult to access. That’s why the oil and gas sector is very interested in it. For example, since 2006, BP has been studying the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The group recently conducted a project in Alaska related to topographic mapping and pipeline visualization to detect potential anomalies. UAVs can also be used to inspect land-based equipment or remote and difficult-to-access marine platforms. The data they collect can be leveraged into an asset management and personnel management solution to plan appropriate maintenance actions.
Augmented reality also has concrete applications for the oil and gas industry. Field engineers can be guided remotely by other specialists who can be thousands of miles away with augmented reality hands and tools. Augmented reality will certainly be widely adopted by companies wishing to make the most of their assets and optimize the efficiency of their maintenance in complex environments.
4. A more flexible industry that meets the needs of the renewable energy sector
The latest edition of the International Energy Agency’s Medium-Term Renewable Market Report forecasts a 13% increase in renewable energy between 2015 and 2021. For offshore wind farms, oil and gas companies can rely on their vast experience in offshore platforms and simply adapt this know-how to wind energy. With the help of agile IT systems, these companies will quickly be able to deploy new strategies to support this growing market.