Transcend conventions to optimize CAPEX and OPEX

Drill into hidden stores of decision-supporting data.

By Subrat Tripathy May 31, 2019

The oil & gas (O&G) industry is in a state of flux, fueled by unpredictable changes in commodity price, rapid technology advances, changing customer needs, stringent environmental regulations and aging plants. This lack of predictability impacts resource utilization and calls for a measured focus, including as follows:

  • Disciplined capital investment
  • Maximization of asset delivery, from exploration to refineries
  • Streamlined, well-defined personnel roles.

While cash flows have looked more promising, project scopes have expanded and bring bigger challenges to curbing operational costs and managing project risks. Given the industry’s propensity for mega-projects that leverage economies of scale, it’s time to align the humongous capital project cost with demands to shorten exploration & production (E&P) cycles.

The industry has achieved substantial material cost reductions. As a next step, according to PwC and others, digital technology implementation cumulatively can save up to $100 billion in the upstream sector by 2025. An immediate focus should be implementing a robust enterprise data management (EDM) platform for improved collaboration and asset data management (ADM) strategies to drive operational efficiency.

The O&G industry is awash with more data than it can manage. Companies access diverse data sets generated by smart sensors, logging tools, geophones and other sources. Analytics layer insights on top of this data deluge, enabling better decision-making. As analytics-driven operating models become the norm, the focus will shift toward data quality.

Reckoning with headwinds

Data management is a critical challenge, especially with a typical offshore oil platform generating one to two terabytes of data every day, according to Cisco Systems. As this data stream makes its way to a central cloud repository or enterprise data warehouse (EDW), need emerges for real-time analysis. However, with organizations looking for quicker data access, there are often data quality compromises.

A typical data management architecture for an upstream E&P platform includes several independent systems, with stand-alone applications for each process across a project lifecycle, including project management, quality and risk management, plant design/engineering information management, inventory/bills of material (BOM) management, contracting and procurement, enterprise resource planning (ERP) and vendor collaboration. This siloed data management framework includes disparate data repositories and systems, with data often moved manually among them. At times, accumulated data is distributed via intermediate steps like Microsoft Excel workflows.

Aggregating diverse data within a complex data management framework, coupled with analytics provision, helps O&G companies get an integrated process view. However, this multi-application environment is difficult to maintain. It infuses complexity into identifying and analyzing data and makes information integration tedious. Constraints include:

  • Scalability and cost
  • Low traceability of source data
  • Difficulty in integrating with application performance management and other systems
  • Limitations on augmented reality (AR) or virtual reality (VR) connectivity for future requirements
  • Limited dashboard capability
  • Limited tools for integration.

These challenges call for effective data management to integrate disparate data streams across E&P applications for holistic analyses and faster decision making.

Stand-alone EDW solutions have data integration limitations. While some validate data themselves either through a separate module or Microsoft Excel, which often results in discrepancies, others come with poor product configurations that don’t support data integration. Moreover, most are hobbled with complex data reporting modules and poor search functions which preclude administrators refining or filtering searches.

A data aggregator solution, on the other hand, gives a whole new dimension to data consolidation, while adding product lifecycle management to the mix.

PLM-based consolidation

A wise step toward effective data management is to implement integrated data aggregator solutions under one consolidated environment for all E&P assets. A solid data management foundation, with data aggregation and analysis more closely woven together, enables O&G companies to realize data’s full potential.

A data aggregator solution combines MDM and EDW in a single application, reducing support overhead, simplifying integrations, and empowering data access embedded within a warehouse or other downstream intelligence or analytics tool. Data is validated, enriched, and reconciled across multiple sources. Enabled is a data lineage and transparent audit trail for stakeholders including plant design partners, suppliers and third-party solution providers.

The solution allows plant operators to create a repository of plant lifecycle information pertaining to project execution, project collaboration, configuration management, requirements management and change management. The data is available throughout the enterprise to help stakeholders plan, operate and execute changes to the plant functions more easily and with minimal cost.

Another significant aspect of this data management solution is that it can remove the complexities of project development by integrating high-end digital twin technology within the proprietary data management platform to create a digital replica of an entire facility and its corresponding data assets.

PLM-enabled benefits

In a product lifecycle management- (PLM) based data aggregator solution, every physical component, such as a shaft or a bearing, is assigned a tag, which points to a 3-D model of the component with its associated information. A typical offshore facility has more than 150,000 tags.

Digital twins are created with dynamic updates documented via tags. Three-dimensional component visualization enables better understanding of the associated data.

Transparency follows from PLM’s philosophy of creating a “single version of the truth.” The same body of data is available to all stakeholders, whether they are project managers, engineers, regulatory bodies or consultants. The dashboard visualization may vary but the source of truth remains one.

Trust grows among stakeholders based on similar and unbiased data accessibility rights granted to all parties. Speed and clarity of communication increases as reliance on emails and other traditional media decreases. Instead, tag-related queries are raised, relayed, addressed, answered and stored in PLM for future reference. Seamless collaboration among individuals and globally dispersed teams is enabled.

Staying future-ready

O&G global leaders are adopting PLM-based “digital project delivery” to optimize capital expenditure costs and ensure seamless digital delivery of project artifacts, including digital twins, to owner operators.

The collective impact will soon be felt across every aspect of the business, from increasing asset performance and enhancing operational efficiencies to real-time decision-making. To make the best use of this transformation, energy companies will focus on data standardization and ensure broad information availability.

Look for a partner that works closely with its clients to simplify the journey to a data-driven organization that realizes cost efficiencies through digital maturity.

[subhead]Way forward

The industry’s future will be molded by new-age technologies like 3-D simulation, AR/VR and digital twins, bringing people, processes, and applications under the purview of one consolidated management platform.

Industry professionals can focus on what they’ve been doing for decades: drilling! Only this time, instead of crude, they’ll drill into large chunks of data hidden in process silos to haul out insights that fortify massive digital frameworks and make them smart enough to run seamlessly.


Subrat Tripathy
Author Bio: Chief business officer, North America, L&T Technology Services