Making Collaborative Technology Development Work for our Industry

posted 25 Sep 2014

In the offshore oil and gas industry, we are often perceived as conservative, however I believe that a proper analysis will show extensive evidence of innovation for more than forty years.

Technology has played a major role in the development of our industry, and we have made enormous strides in our ability to extract hydrocarbons from increasingly complex reservoirs, deeper water and harsh environmental conditions with technology advancements playing an important role in our achievements. While no doubt there is more to do, we continue nevertheless to increase our reservoir recovery rate through technology enhancements.

Our industry though is high risk and high cost. Safety and protection of the environment is an integral part of our business, and rightly so. I believe as an industry we fully understand the implications of not taking due care in what we do, however this may be impacting on our ability to adopt new technology in an effective manner. I wonder whether there is some good practice we can adopt from other industries that would result in adoption of technology at speed while properly mitigating for the potentially high costs and risks in doing so.  I believe that our industry can do better at sharing lessons learned and incorporating them in a consistent and standardised way across the industry when it comes to technology qualification. Too many of our organisations are keeping the lessons learned in-house and building their own qualification mitigations so that technology developers can face an unnecessarily wide variety of hurdles to jump in order to get their technology adopted. Furthermore, I think we can do a better top-down job of supporting innovation in the supply chain. There is, I believe, too much focus on transactional engineering, manhour control and territory protection that is stifling some much needed innovation we could take advantage of.

Technology is also a very competitive business, and this is evident right throughout our supply chain from the top down.  Oil companies use it to position themselves in winning licences to explore and operate.  Operators also want access to technology on a competitive basis, while technology suppliers seek to invest in and develop technology that gives them a unique proposition in the marketplace. In the midst of this, it can sometimes be difficult to find the areas where collaboration can work.  However, I believe there is a definite place in our industry for collaboration, and that applies to technology among other things.  At ITF, we see ourselves as a focal point for technology collaboration and we encourage our members and the wider industry to actively engage with us and help us direct our efforts in the most effective manner possible. We have our part to play too, and key to that is having a focus on the issues that can have a real and positive impact on our industry. That’s why we are working on technologies to improve drilling efficiencies, well construction, better imaging and targeting of our reservoirs. That’s why we have a focus on enhanced oil recovery and why we want to see increased implementation of subsea processing technology where it can play to the increased oil recovery agenda, particularly for marginal brownfield projects. That’s why we are working on technologies that can reduce the cost of well abandonment.  We have a busy programme of activities to the end of 2014 and extending into the first quarter of 2015, and we are currently working on our technology programme for the whole of 2015 where we will seek approval for this plan for our members through the last quarter of 2014.

To technology developers, we ask you to keep an eye on our upcoming “Calls for Proposals” and we encourage you to participate in these calls where appropriate. Our job at ITF is to convince our members to invest in technologies that meet their needs on the basis of quality proposals from developers. We will do our best at matching innovation to technology needs, and if we succeed in this everybody is a winner. Working on the things that can make an impact, with developers that can bring innovation within the right commercial context, while addressing common industry technology challenges are the key recipes to  make collaborative technology development and deployment play an important role in our industry.

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Patrick O’Brien,
Chief Executive,
Industry Technology Facilitator




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