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Time to embrace framework for change

Image to show the name of the blog post 'Time to embrace framework for change'

Suba Rohrman

Vice President Asia Pacific & China

Collaboration and communication are central to the success of any complex projects. And the more variables in play – companies, disciplines, technologies – the more crucial the need to share information and data effectively.

In harsh environments like those found across subsea oil and gas, it is particularly important to establish a framework that, to the greatest extent possible, encourages the teamwork necessary to reduce risks while increasing the potential for efficient, cost-effective project execution.

Changing parameters for the entire industry – exploration slowdown, carbon reductions, decreasing margins – only increase the need for tools that can make a meaningful difference to returns on investment.

FutureOn is championing a vendor-neutral approach to data standards that will facilitate maximum industry collaboration through cross-platform digitalization of field planning, realisation and operations.

Proven results from our involvement in developments around the world provide an illustration of what digital twin applications can achieve on individual projects, as well as the wider sector transformation possible through industry-wide cooperation on open data standards.

And FutureOn’s FieldTwin platform, while already groundbreaking, is only the beginning of the story. Innovations in the information-rich substrata of the technologies, and how those are used in real-world applications, promise to rewrite the book on what digital twins can bring to oil and gas.

Industry gains from shared standards

The potential of digitalisation knows no bounds: from field design, contracting and operations to flow assurance, production forecasts, pipeline profiles, detailed cost calculations and carbon reductions.

And new ways of sharing data will develop hand in hand with additional security – FutureOn is for instance talking with operators and contractors about a central information portal for bidding and tendering that allows for shared access while providing inbuilt protection for IP and proprietary materials.

That mix of collaboration and control opens the door to a truly transformative win-win. And benefits will only increase – potentially many,  many times over – with the sort of comprehensive, industry-wide framework for metadata that FutureOn is working to establish.

An accepted standard for the fundamental building blocks of the digital future will facilitate communication between inhouse and third party platforms, across different companies and divisions, between operator and contractor, and from initial concept through operation and eventually decommissioning.

A high quality, continuous set of metadata – recognised and applicable across industry – is crucial to the full enabling of digital twin technologies and the sorts of achievements already taking hold across the oil and gas. It will tackle the frustrations and loss of data often encountered during handover between project phases, enhance communication between different parts of the business and result in better collaboration, increased efficiency and decreased risk.

The next iteration of FieldTwin will take full advantage of the power offered by a centrally managed data approach. The result will be alignment of the information held on different applications, by different operators and under different standards. A single item of metadata within the digital twin will be precisely defined, ready for import/export or sharing in the appropriate format ready for its final destination.

Partners, contractors and suppliers – enabled by FutureOn technology and using industry-agreed protocols – will be able to work to the same standard, however defined at the original source. Under such a system it will be possible to design an entire field based on the selection of a preferred metadata template, reflecting for instance the requirements of an industry organisation, a system specific to a particular basin, or some other standard.

The wider benefits of this collaborative digital approach are already evident in ongoing development and across project lifecycles: real-life solutions that encourage innovation, create cost savings and cut time to first production.

Field optimisation through digital design

At the design stage, digitalisation provides a common workspace that breaks down barriers between potential silos and enables efficient collaboration across even remote work settings. It also reduces the time spent searching for data across, for instance, server folder structures and data hierarchies.

Engineers can in a matter of moments access information in the digital twin about a specific asset in a geospatially correct environment, including the latest validated data: process flows, piping and instrumentation, materials and test certificates, product specifications, inspection findings, maintenance records and integrity risk assessment reports, among others. The technical codes and standards used for compliance can also be included.

Access to this single-point, data-rich visualisation – particularly when combined with parallel organisational changes – boosts efficiencies and increases the time available to discuss a wider range of project alternatives while improving decision making quality.

Crucially, metadata functionality brings even wider benefits; physical asset properties can be input, captured and digitised to enable smart virtual assets for use across a range of workflows and software applications in several disciplines.

And the more that metadata shares a common standard, the more effective it becomes.

The integrated semi-autonomous digital approach to field development can identify potential problems at an early stage, and so create substantial budget savings. It also facilitates previously unfeasible assessments such as radical field layouts and/or the incorporation of rolling geology updates when planning well trajectories.

A next-generation approach to teamwork

At the tendering stage, digital twin technology can streamline the bidding process while increasing security over sensitive and proprietary data.

A central cloud-based platform and 3D visualization containing all relevant information allows access to be controlled by the operator over time. This not only governs when and what potential contractors can see, but restricts future use by unsuccessful or non-bidders and guards against misuse, unauthorized access and even theft.

Updates to project materials can be incorporated into bid preparation on a rolling basis, collaboration between partners and consortia can be both facilitated and optimized, and overall time from invitation to tender through to award can be minimised.

Crucially, it includes the creation of a single shared data source accessible across the project teams, tracking changes in real time and even catering via an export/import solution to existing in-house tools.

The result of the digitalization of these processes is a positive step-change in how major energy companies communicates with its supply chain. The overall time reductions and cost savings are significant.

Milestones on the road to transformation

Teamwork has never been more important to the way energy firms do business. Synergies are key from concept through execution, operation and decommissioning; collaboration is the watchword within companies, across supply chains and on an industry-wide basis.

Digital twin technologies have in recent years revolutionised how data is used and shared, encouraging the effective communication necessary to achieve results even in the most difficult of economic and operational environments.

A shared open standard for metadata can take digitalisation to the next level: multiplying many times over the cost savings, the time efficiencies and the returns on investment already proven in real-world applications.

Innovators including FutureOn are ready to lead the way.

And this is not solely about faith in the company’s own technology – which is a given – it is about achieving the necessary and ongoing transformation of an industry facing unprecedented challenges.

The full range of digital solutions that can enable projects to succeed in these challenging times have been identified; now it’s time for industry to embrace the full potential.

Smart solutions for the digital oilfield of the future.

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