Talking the talk, walking the walk… Bringing new energy – and solutions – to the North Sea oil and gas story
In oil and gas, we need to look at fresh and new ways to do things. This has been a leitmotiv of our industry for more than 2 years, reinforced by the awareness that, when the market will start to recover, it will do so at a slower pace than initially expected. We can also assume that the landscape in which we will operate post recovery will be different from the one we have grown accustomed to in recent times. We all agree that change is crucially needed and that the industry is at a watershed …but how do we turn this awareness into reality?
Recently, I visited Bergen, Norway to join the discussion and share our views during the Underwater Technology Conference (UTC). One of the key questions discussed at UTC was how to transition to a leaner and more efficient subsea industry.
I had the opportunity to share GE Oil & Gas’ roadmap toward a better and more efficient operational model with the audience, focusing on the digital journey GE has embraced across the several industrial sectors in which we operate. We looked at how consumers have significantly benefited from the internet and shared examples of potential benefits applied to our subsea world, courtesy of what we at GE call the Industrial Internet.
We see exciting potential in digitizing the oil and gas industry, and I spoke about the digital tools that we are deploying to optimize and create leaner engineering, manufacturing, supply chain and project management processes. The digital thread starts when we take an order and it weaves its way across the entire product lifecycle. Our thread doesn’t stop at point of delivery. Through condition based monitoring of our systems in application, I shared how we can better understand field performance and, importantly, how through data gathering and analytics we can improve system performance and availability, i.e. true value for our customers.
The North Sea can benefit greatly from this approach. This region has always been a laboratory for the industry, with multiple “1st’s”. Over time, it has served as an innovation hub to develop best practices and industry models that have been instrumental to driving growth in other key markets across the world. Progress in the North Sea enabled us to reach new degrees of safety excellence, technology sophistication, and policy development, contributing to positioning oil and gas at the forefront of the engineering world. At the same time, it is one of the geographies where the effects of a prolonged downturn have been most acutely felt.
We need to come together as an industry and collaborate closely to re-energize and extend North Sea operations, the focus predominantly being on better capital efficiency and system lifecycle performance. Leaner, more efficient and agile processes across our value chain are a given, but it’s crucial that we also collaborate with trust and openness, introducing critical technology insertions to extend field life and unlock difficult assets – and we need to combine this with commercial innovation aimed at sharing risk and reward… we firmly believe digital can be an enabler for this step change.
Our approach goes beyond equipment upgrades and seeks to drive system-wide improvements across plants, facilities and oilfields, while at the same time optimizing decisions. This is why it is important that operators and suppliers across the value chain develop solutions together, and not in isolation. Better visibility and understanding of key data can be a game changer for our industry, playing a fundamental role in moving us to the next level of improved execution.
We are investing in dedicated technology enhancements to automate processes and introduce digitized services as well as to provide better foundations for informed decision-making. These range from automating our pressure testing process and providing customers with remote monitoring capabilities, to advanced manufacturing, incl. robot assembly and 3D prototyping.
By investing in the latest in automation technology in our manufacturing facilities, we can reduce complexity and increase efficiency. It’s about repeatability, scalability and cost-efficiency. It’s about combining innovation and manufacturing to drive better outcomes.
We believe these steps will gradually lead us to the right place – propelling growth for our industry and supporting key expertise areas like the North Sea in transitioning to an exciting and more viable future.