The Need to Commit to Collaboration

posted 17 Feb 2015

Dr Patrick O'Brien highlights the need to commit to collaboration ahead of the Technology Showcase on March 4th, 2015

I want to talk to you about collaboration and innovation.  I was recently speaking with one of our members about a particular joint industry project (JIP) we were facilitating with an innovator proposing to develop an exciting new drilling technology.  Given that I knew the high priority that my member had for drilling advancements, I asked him had he considered this recent JIP proposal that I had sent him.  “Yes”, he said, “I passed your proposal to my drilling engineering department and they reviewed it.  The proposal was interesting, but our engineers had concerns whether the technology could support the drill string loads”.  I responded, “This JIP already has four participants supporting it, and at this stage it’s still a feasibility study phase that will seek to answer many of these technical queries.  The costs of the JIP will be shared equally among participants, so risks are mitigated and why not just take a chance and support it?”  I believed strongly that the impact of this new innovation could be transformational for the industry.  We have to accept that with innovation comes risk, but collaboration is one important means to mitigate that risk, and this should provide the necessary catalyst for a company to say “we’ll take a chance and support it”, and more generally for the industry to better progress and implement new technology that we badly need.  Too much analysis can stifle innovation, but by collaborating to share insights and lessons learned and to mitigate the risk of innovation, we create a platform to encourage positive engagement and investment in new ideas. 

Our industry at this time is calling out for more collaboration, but it is not always easy to find an effective mechanism to do it.  At ITF, we firmly believe that for technology development and implementation, we have such a mechanism that has a firm track record in the industry.  Yes there is room for improvement, but the framework is there, and proactive and effective engagement is a way to make the outcomes real and impactful.  One key outcome of our work at ITF is to facilitate joint industry projects.  I have heard feedback that the JIP model for technology development can be slow and ineffective,  and in many cases dictated by the lowest common denominator.  Equally, I know of many great JIPs that have moved the industry significantly forward.  The JIP model is very much alive in the industry, with ITF facilitating only a small proportion of what the industry supports overall.  However, through our “Calls for Proposals” and extensive research processes we work hard to ensure that the projects we launch are consistently well aligned with the needs of our members and the wider industry.  We continually look to strengthen our JIP model by keeping a focus on solving current industry challenges that meaningfully move our industry forward; by keeping JIP participants small in number and strongly aligned around achieving outcomes for the project they support; and by taking a much stronger involvement in running projects to help them meet the original expectations set by the developers and agreed with the participants.  We are actively working to improve on all these issues and we will make progress on it.  Our plan going forward for ITF is that members financially support the projects that are most relevant to them, while the ITF membership as a whole benefits from the totality of outcomes from our ongoing portfolio of technology projects through sharing with our members appropriate findings from all our projects.

We are working hard at all levels within our membership and the wider industry to get a strong understanding of current industry technology challenges.  Our upcoming Technology Showcase on 4th March will be a measure of how well ITF has its pulse on what the industry needs to do in technology development and implementation.  Don’t miss that combined conference and exhibition, where we debate strategic technology challenges with senior industry figures, see how other industries outside oil and gas tackle their technology challenges, and hear a range of interesting talks on highlighting the challenge as well as proposing innovative solutions.  You will see the full programme at by pressing the “Conference” tab followed by “2015 Outline Programme”.  At ITF, we see the Showcase as a launching pad for many of our technology initiatives in 2015 and beyond. 

ITF is here to serve our members and the wider industry in relation to the development and implementation of technology.  All our efforts are driven by our focus to make technology have a positive and meaningful impact on the future of our industry.  And through our ongoing efforts and processes, we aim to bring effective innovation to our members.

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Dr Patrick O’Brien, FREng
CEO, The Industry Technology Facilitator