Realising the future
Odjfell Drilling, one of the North Sea’s leading drilling and well service contractors, has recently revolutionised the method in which it conducts its business by introducing an innovative ‘integrated operations’ software system.
Based around a state-of-the-art IT and technology system that involves video conferencing, communications tools, intelligent software, and a single global framework, integrated operations will provide significant advantages to both Odfjell, and the oil and gas industry.
Bjornar Iversen, European vice president of technology at Odfjell Drilling, enthusiastically tells European Oil and Gas Magazine more about the system that is set to revolutionise the industry: “Although integrated operations sounds like a complicated solution to comprehend, it is actually a relatively simple solution that will have massive benefits to the industry as a whole. Essentially, we have established a new framework and technical infrastructure that encompasses the latest software and technology, such as broadband connections, communication equipment, video conferencing, and integrated planning tools. This creates an effective arena that everyone in the oil and gas industry can work within highly successfully.
“We have established our own framework and plug-ins within integrated operations, and those for our clients and suppliers, so that we are all working closely together within the same arena,” he says. “During the initial steps we have set up advanced rooms and communications centres, together with the associated technology and software, at all of the units and sites that we have. Additionally, we have been developing the correct tools and software to make the system a success. For example, we have created an integrated planning tool and a 3D visualisation model that allows us to view real-time problems in cyberspace. Essentially, integrated operations is an innovative co-operation arena, where everyone in the industry can work together as one united team, to improve our overall effectiveness.”
The system consists of a fully linked, highly innovative communication and operations system that connects Odfjell Drilling with its suppliers, its customers, and all of the major oil and gas related companies on a global scale at the touch of a button. Bjornar believes that such a network can have massive effects: “The initial research conducted here in Norway illustrates that this has the potential to create a 20 per cent increase in overall efficiency throughout the entire industry, which is obviously a huge advantage. It has the effect of starting fresh for the oil and gas sector as, although IT has always been present, it has never been an essential part of the core process, and capable of having such excellent benefits.
“I really believe that with integrated operations we are looking at the future of communications and operations within the industry,” he continues. “Companies that join us, and embrace this new technical infrastructure that Odfjell Drilling are creating, will be in the unique position of being able to harness all of the advantages of operating within the integrated operations arena. I think that in five years from now those who have not joined will be left in the dust, whereas those that have embraced its full capabilities will be the real winners.”
Expanding on this, Bjornar gives a number of examples of where integrated operations will give notable advantages: “There are hundreds of areas that integrated operations will improve, but one of the most typical scenarios is when there is a problem with some equipment on the rig that leads to downtime and costs that run into millions of dollars per day. Traditionally, we would have to find a specialist, fly them to our country, and then on to the rig by helicopter, before finally starting work on the problem. With integrated operations, this entire process is shortened to mere minutes. We can discuss the problem live with the crew and technical director offshore, have real-time video of the equipment in question, and assess the next step immediately.
“Furthermore, it will save a great deal of time in terms of maintenance and rig upgrades,” he continues. “For example, it allows us to link the manufacturer of the rig with the technical crew on board, and provides scope for project engineers to use video technology to direct the crew in real-time. However, I feel that operations like this are only the beginning. There is other technology on the way, such as intelligent piping and improved drilling tools, which when joined together will make it possible to monitor and control the actual drilling process by our communications link through a truly integrated, compact infrastructure – the possibilities really are endless.”
Despite the obvious success that integrated operations promises, Bjornar admits that there have been challenges in its creation: “Introducing this is indeed like starting over again, and it has not been an easy step to fully embrace the technology. The main obstacle lies in changing our organisation, and that of our clients, to work in a different way and to accept change. The drilling industry is very conservative and not much has changed in the last 30 years, so we all have to be ready to see the benefits that moving forwards will bring us, and learn to change our habits accordingly.”
In conjunction with the new system, Odfjell Drilling has also re-organised its technology division, one of four within the company: “Our technology division differentiates us from many other drilling companies,” says Bjornar. “It is responsible for developing much of the new software used in integrated operations, and as a result of this we have decided to extend our knowledge base by starting a drilling management department. The drilling management team is responsible for maintaining and developing the competence and management systems for drilling rigs and associated operations.”
Given that the introduction of integrated operations looks set to change the way the industry operates, Bjornar is understandably enthusiastic about the future: “I am very excited about this development as it is a great leap forward for our entire industry. It is a fantastic system, which is only going to continue to change the way that we think and operate. Furthermore, our dedication to innovation and to improving has led us to work with many of the major industry players, including StatoilHydro, as a strategic and technical partner for business development. In this sense, I feel that with that the new builds, and all of the technology that we have coming through, we have a very strong future ahead of us,” he concludes.
Services: Drilling and well services