The demand for oil will continue to grow over the medium term according to figures from OPEC. They predict that in the medium-term period up to 2022 there is an anticipated increase of 6.9 mb/d, rising from 95.4 mb/d to 102.3 mb/d. This corresponds to an average annual increase of close to 1.2 mb/d.
The outlook for long-term oil demand growth is slightly more optimistic, reaching 111.1 mb/d by 2040, although average growth slows to around 300,000 b/d between 2035 and 2040 on the back of anticipated efficiency improvements, a further tightening of energy policies, as well as decelerating GDP and population growth.
This demand needs to be met. However, because the investment, especially in offshore, has slowed or even halted during the oil price downturn of the past three or four years the supply is down to a point where huge investment is required in developing new sources. According to Darrell Knight, EVP Global Accounts of FutureOn that is what is happening in the offshore space.
“Investment is jumping from where sanctioned projects in 2018 were in the region of $30 billion and that will jump to $182 billion this year,” he said. “It is going to be in that neck of the woods at least for the next four years or possibly longer. This is the known offshore fields that are ready now for development. Some of them are being developed already.”
These figures are backed up by the latest data from GlobalData who predict that total new-build capital expenditure (CapEx) of US$846bn is expected to be spent globally on planned and announced upstream projects from 2019 to 2025. Royal Dutch Shell leads among all oil and gas companies and is expected to spend US$54.6bn on upcoming upstream projects during the forecast period.
Need for digital
For FutureOn this presents a tremendous opportunity as a supplier of software into the offshore space that already works with many of the major operators. “We believe that this new jump in demand, plus the sanctioning of offshore fields, will drive the need for digital technologies in offshore,” Knight adds. “It will escalate that need, accelerate it because all new projects, certainly within our customer base, need to be developed in a way that is very cost-effective because of the price of oil. Even though the demand ironically is going up, the price of oil is likely still to be politically managed by OPEC and others to stay within the $50 to $60 range now.”
“Companies like Equinor, are working on new fields, one of which is called Peon, which is an announced project where they are developing completely unmanned offshore platforms. The idea being everything is being controlled through digital means. Peon is part of the Naust formation, a shallow deposit that contains estimated recoverable resources of 15-30 billion standard cubic meters.
“We see not just the topside or the platform as being automated, but the entire infrastructure from the reservoir through the field up to the platform, that entire process,” Knight added. “We’re developing software that effectively gives that capability from day one.
“Our customers are now using our software to develop digital fields in the cloud. Being able to plan, and build, and operate fields completely digitally. Because there is this uptake in new projects, it is a good time for these companies to decide that on greenfield offshore projects they will go digital from day one.”
Step forward the digital twin
FutureOn has a product that allows them to create the digital twin of the field, called FieldTwin. “Traditional digitalization approaches can threaten O&G companies’ long-term viability as they involve significant upfront CAPEX expenditures,” Knight explained. “Deploying IoT devices, SMART sensors, and robotic tools require expensive new equipment investments, employee training, and retrofitting of existing systems. Such investment may sound compelling, but the ROI on such investment is difficult to assess.
“You’re building a story, if you like, over time and managing all your data centrally. We’re offering the idea of an open platform where we use Open Web technology to allow you to access and view all the data at any point, and then some extended capabilities for editing, and operating, and tying into engineering tools. We have several different partners we’re working with to make that happen.”