Global engineering and manufacturing powerhouse Siemens believes that digitalisation can provide a significant breakthrough in assisting the oil and gas industry to become more efficient and to meet the challenges of a “lower for longer” commodity price regime.
Dr. Vladimir Navrotsky, Head of Technology and Innovation at Siemens Energy Service, Oil & Gas and Industrial Applications, describes digitalisation as the fourth industrial revolution and says it is also redefining markets and opportunities for the entire oil and gas industry.
With digitalisation and automation, operators can collect real-time data on equipment and operations, and also remotely manage the equipment more efficiently. Big data and other analytics help operators cut costs and improve efficiencies by optimising performance and enabling predictive and preventive maintenance. With sensors and control equipment located across the field system, operators require fewer field engineers, something that delivers big cost advantages particularly in offshore and remote fields.
One example is the use of digitalisation in the real-time monitoring of wellheads providing operators with improved equipment management. This could include the real-time monitoring of the mix of fluid, sand, rock and hydrocarbons coming through a wellhead, allowing pumps to be adjusted accordingly to reduce wear and tear, and prevent damage.
Another exciting implementation of digitalisation has seen Siemens take its extensive experience in image processing in fields such as health care and bring them to the visualisation of oil and gas reservoirs.
A key challenge in the exploration and development phase is to take the extensive information from ultrasound, seismic, core samples and flow data to build a picture of what the subsurface reservoir looks like.
Using Siemens software, exploration companies can now get a better view of the reservoir in real time or near real time, allowing them to make decisions faster, thereby reducing costs associated with expensive leased rig and other field equipment
According to Dr Navrotsky, innovation is Siemens’ lifeblood.
“We employ a global group of scientists in fundamental research, focused especially on long-term technologies and megatrends. All in all, we spent some Euro4.5 billion on R&D annually,” Dr Navrotsky said.
“In addition, Siemens offers the largest portfolio of mission-critical equipment for the entire oil and gas value chain, and the largest service network in the world. Thanks to this, Siemens can offer a unique digital value proposition. It is the combination of domain know-how and our expertise in combining operating technology and information technology, while complying with stringent HSSE requirements,” he said.
According to Dr Navrotsky, Det Norske’s new Ivar Aasen platform in the North Sea is another good example of how Siemens can help oil and gas operations through digitalisation.
“Besides electrifying the entire platform, our digital solution comprises a Remote Expert Centre for integrated engineering and support, as well as virtual training. Now onshore staff can operate the entire platform based on real-time data, enabling key onshore expert support and ensuring highest productivity.”
The result, safe and secure eco-friendly production, higher productivity, lower OpEx, higher availability, and improved value for CapEx.
Another significant area of development within Siemens is the use of its expertise in remote diagnostics.
“We at Siemens understand that reliable operations are key to a profitable and sustainable business. Remote diagnostic services allow us to support our customers 24 hours a day in a seven-day week, increasing their availability and reliability,” Dr Navrotsky says.
“The remote diagnostic service is an integral part of the Siemens high-value, long-term programs. In over 80 countries, we monitor the complete range of oil and gas, and industrial rotating equipment.
In our remote diagnostic centres, embedded in the dedicated locations of our product lines, we process the data of more than 1000 units for oil and gas industry, power generation and industrial clients.
“We serve complete trains consisting of gas turbines, steam turbines and compressors, covering generators, set and mechanical drive applications.”
“Per year, Siemens processes over 500,000 automated tasks and 850,000 files. Advanced pattern recognition and the deviation of normal behaviour techniques support the fault detection at an early stage. Unplanned outages can be shifted into planned maintenance activities, and trips can be avoided.”
Another innovation high on the Siemens development chart is oil and gas field electrification
The company says that one of the most effective ways to reduce costs in an oil and gas field – whether onshore or offshore – is to use electric-drive pumps, compressors and process equipment connected to a power grid and a control system, instead of diesel-powered mechanical-drive equipment.
Electricity powering the grid can come from a high-efficiency gas turbine, from a combined heat and power plant, or even from a combined renewable and fossil-fueled plant. Operators benefit most significantly from electrification through improved reliability and availability, and thus better field efficiency. Furthermore, electrification can reduce operating costs through greater fuel efficiency and the lower maintenance and operating costs associated with electrical motors and drives. And while the initial capital outlay is larger with electrification, overall capital costs can be lower because production generally can begin sooner and is less likely to face start-up delays.
With Siemens employing more than 32,100 scientists and engineers in R&D, including some 5300 software developers, it is clear the company has a major focus on innovation and finding answers that industry increasingly demands.