How Unified Operations can Support Agility and Adaptability in The Oil and Gas Industry

Rashesh Mody, vice president of AVEVA's Monitoring & Control business

Rashesh Mody, Senior Vice President, Monitoring and Control Business Unit, AVEVA

The oil and gas industry (O&G) is no stranger to uncertainty, but the events of 2020 highlighted the importance of agility and adaptability more than ever. Covid-19 brought many disruptions, from the sudden need for remote working through to the oil price crash. Many of last year’s challenges helped reveal areas of low digital maturity, including the industry’s reliance on engineers out in the field and the fact their work was often reactive, rather than pre-emptive. This has led to an acceleration of digital transformation projects as organizations look to secure business continuity and improve automation.

Pivoting to a new energy future

As the global population grows and living standards improve, energy needs are set to continue rising. According to ExxonMobil’s latest Outlook for Energy  global demand will rise by 20% by 2040. BloombergNEF’s New Energy Outlook 2020 predicts demand for oil will peak in 2035, while gas will continue to rise until at least 2050. At the same time society is calling for cleaner energy, and so O&G companies must look to supply their energy with a greater focus on environmental performance. With this in mind many are focusing on energy transition and net-zero goals.

Pivoting to this new energy future is challenging, but digitalization has an important role to play in helping the sector make this transition. Solutions such as remote operations centers can help to optimize efficiencies and meet environmental targets, all while ensuring competitiveness thanks to lowering costs and downtime.

The role of a Remote Operations Center

A Remote Operations Center (ROC) helps organizations to make better informed decisions by bringing together disparate systems and providing a 3600 view across the value chain.

Pulling together information technology (IT), operational technology (OT) and engineering technology (ET) into a converged industrial internet of things (IIoT) interface, a ROC enables organizations to create a single management environment that provides full visibility across the business.

Create actionable insights

ROCs take advantage of technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and cloud computing to gather, store and analyze data, which is then turned into actionable insights that drive operational efficiency and safety performance. Operational measures such as yield, efficiency, emissions, throughput and utilization can be calculated from the plant down to asset level, enabling meaningful comparisons of performance across multiple sites and departments, and ensuring key performance indicators (KPIs) are met.

Furthermore, reporting tools and dashboards allow users to route staff to the highest priority assets, while the overview of assets transforms reactive maintenance into predictive. This is thanks to advanced diagnostics that enable workers to anticipate faults before they occur through the use of big data analytics.

Real-world results

Many O&G businesses including upstream, midstream, downstream, and retail have already made the move to ROCs. This includes ADNOC – one of the world’s largest oil companies in terms of production. ADNOC’s Panorama Digital Command Centre is enabling savings of between US$60-100m through optimized operations. By integrating and monitoring more than 10m tags across in excess of 120 dashboards, the Unified Operations Center allows the oil company to see new value opportunities for the first time – even in brownfield operations.

Times are changing – so must you

The world still relies on oil and gas, but customer demands are changing. They expect energy that’s clean, affordable and reliable.

To provide this, O&G companies must continue to look for efficiencies that will keep costs down, all while doing everything they can to lower emissions. In addition, they must continue to weather uncertainties ­­– those that they’re used to in the sector, but also those new disruptions that came into being with the pandemic.

O&G firms that are able to access the right information, and quickly, will weather these changeable times more favorably, and business visibility and analytics will be key to their continued success. A ROC allows better collaboration among stakeholders and connects people, sites, systems and processes. It empowers businesses to make the most of their assets, and those that do so are most likely to lead the way in this new energy future.