Andrew Dennant, oil and gas director for Middle East and Africa at Emerson Automation Solutions speaks to Pipeline Magazine about GCC countries being more accepting of new approaches to higher yields, including Intelligent Field and Industrial Internet of Things
What is Emerson’s role in Middle East field development-onshore and offshore?
Emerson helps its customers to improve uptime, reliability, safety and energy efficiency by providing them with devices, software, expertise and systems to define and measure actionable information. This takes many forms in every part of the upstream value chain; from reservoir modelling and drill planning, mud management during drilling, measurement and real-time control at the wellhead, workflow visualisation for the Intelligent Field, process plant optimisation, pipeline design and management, equipment monitoring, through to terminal management. In all cases, we aim to present our customer’s personnel with actionable insights and information that allow them to take better actions to improve their business rather than just to show them vast amounts of process data.
Which are top areas where new technology can help companies increase profit from oil and gas fields?
The two areas where we are seeing the most interest are the Intelligent Field, and the Industrial Internet of Things. Both are exciting in different ways. Most of the operators in the Middle East now understand what the Intelligent Field means to them, and how Emerson’s broad range of products and services enables and supports the value proposition. But the Industrial Internet of Things is comparatively new, and we are seeing great interest in how to build a business case for implementing this. Emerson has a range of products and services that fall into this area, and they are extremely scalable. You can start with a single, locally-executed application, or adopt a pay-for-data model in which your plant is remotely optimised by third party experts. It all depends on the needs of your business, and your appetite for change. Whichever way you go – to either of these extremes or somewhere in between – we are ready to support you.
What is the biggest challenge for maximising profits in field development for UAE, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia?
A year ago, I would have said “Inertia”. An acceptance of keeping on doing the same things and not wanting to rock the boat made it difficult to effect change in many organisations across the GCC. But the new normal is a focus on efficiency and an openness to looking at better ways of doing things that is already yielding benefits. We have seen huge interest in the last few months in our approach to the Industrial Internet of Things, as well as a significant uptick in examining how to make the Intelligent Field deliver real business results.
How is managing field development different for companies in places like Iraq?
Decades of war and sanctions have left Iraq somewhat behind the times. We see hugely energetic and talented people who have not been exposed to the latest technologies, and this means that the requirement for training, knowledge transfer, and change management is greater in Iraq than in the rest of the GCC. We also see a great deal of emphasis being placed on this at a government level, and from the leaders of the National Oil Companies.
What security improvements can Iraq make to ensure stable oil output?
The trend that we are seeing is that security is improving all the time in Iraq, and we applaud the government and local institutions there for the work that they are doing. We believe that the Industrial Internet of Things can help to keep personnel out of harm’s way, whether they are in Iraq, Ireland, Italy or Iwo Jima! The ability to automatically sense process and condition data, to analyse that remotely, and to provide personnel with, essentially, a work order means that people spend less time in the field monitoring, diagnosing and troubleshooting. They are more aware of the process conditions when they enter an area where hazards might be present, and they can focus on just the work where their expertise adds value.