Commentary, 4/3 2013

Published Apr 19, 2013
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Cover 3/4 2013

Innovative Efficiency

Technology is one of the best things about the annual OTC in Houston. Of course, the T is for technology, yet the scope of the event and the overwhelming amount of technology represented can make your head spin.

What’s even more noteworthy is the impressive number of new technologies announced at OTC. The event is the perfect venue for reaching decision makers, so it’s no wonder we see so many new innovations showcased.

Most innovations are incremental, making small improvements that push the technology forward. But some innovations make longer strides that can shift the way the industry thinks about getting a job done. Yet what validates both extremes of innovation is when these engineering improvements lead to cutting costs and increasing value.

In the oil and gas industry discussions about adopting new technologies often boils down to a debate about why so many companies hesitate being the first to implement something new. Or as we’ve heard is said, “the race to be second”. It’s not surprising that with so much at stake, it’s easy to choose the proven technology over something that may or may not live up to expectations.

Thankfully, we see both industry leaders and governments willing – both individually and in partnership – to take the plunge in order to help bring new technologies to market. Here in Norway, the government has done much to support technology development, which has been a good investment. And more such investment is always welcomed.

But innovation doesn’t always take the form of hardware or software. We’re seeing more and more examples of innovative programmes that cut costs and increase value.

One good example from the Norwegian Continental Shelf is Statoil’s Fast-Track Programme to bring smaller fields on-stream more quickly using proven technology and existing infrastructure. The programme targets fields that would not be profitable as unique stand-alone projects. Using proven technology and existing infrastructure means cost-effective, streamlined planning and thus far, we’ve seen remarkably quick movement from planning to production.

Statoil projects a significant amount of it’s future production will come from Fast-Tracked fields, making the programme one of the company’s most effective means of increasing recovery – and value.

Earlier this year, Statoil signed 5-year frame agreements with both Aker Solutions and FMC Technologies for subsea operations and maintenance support – which covers installation of subsea equipment, maintenance, upgrade and recertification of tools and installed equipment, as well as workover activities and life extension of subsea wells.

It’s not difficult to make the leap from Fast Track to such frame agreements. The two work hand-in-hand to streamline the process of ensuring the most efficient production rates. Again, keeping costs in check while creating value.

Another recent event – the unveiling of the Subsea Well Response Project (SWRP) in Stavanger – highlights the convergence of new technology and innovative thinking. The Norwegian base is the first of four international bases that will house the well capsule system developed by Oil Spill Response Ltd (OSRL).

SWRP – an initiative of the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers (OGP) and financed by BG, BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Petrobras, Shell, Statoil and Total – is an international oil emergency response non-profit joint project to enhance the industry’s capacity to better respond to subsea well-control incidents.

The OGP’s paramount goal is prevention, and the industry has done much to improve spill response. However, SWRP works to intervene when incidents occur, ensuring that the international oil industry is able to respond quickly and efficiently to subsea well-control incidents, keeping spills, and thus clean-up costs, to a minimum.

And that creates value for everyone.

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