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Oman Business News

Digitalisation boosting efficiencies in Oman’s oil and gas sector

As the oil and gas industry is facing intense pressure to improve operational efficiencies amid weak crude prices, major oil and gas firms around the world are increasingly adopting advanced digital technologies and big data analytics to better understand the potential in reservoirs and production, improve health and safety and boost efficiencies to improve their margins.

Digitalisation and efforts in adopting advanced and new technologies are transforming Oman’s oil and gas sector. Engineers at major oil firms operating in the sultanate are increasingly using big data analytics and digital technology to improve efficiency and boost production.

Facing sustained lower oil prices, energy companies are increasingly adopting digital technologies which use masses of instantly available data, or big data, to maintain or boost production, according to a report by Inside Energy, Shell’s digital magazine.

We’re moving to a digital way of working,” said Jaap van Dijk, a control and automation engineer for Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) a joint venture between the government of Oman, Shell, Total and Partex. PDO is rolling out a mobile platform called Smart Mobile Worker, which its field technicians use to access live operational data and monitor production as they travel between oil wells.

We’re bringing the technology and connectivity that we use in our personal lives to our fields. That’s a real buzz. It’s driving major efficiencies at a time when we need to do more with the same number of workers,” he added.

Industrial machinery is increasingly embedded with software and sensors which connect wirelessly to provide live data streams and respond to digital commands. Analysing such data improves decision-making and efficiency.

Other sectors, such as healthcare and financial services, were early adopters of digital technologies and big data. The oil and gas industry has been slower to adapt but it is catching up as companies seek to unlock more energy at lower cost.

According to the Inside Energy report, by 2050, the world’s population is expected to have grown by 2bn to more than 9bn people. Living standards will also improve: Many will own their first car or use their first computer.

Oman, which faces tough production challenges, typically has complex reservoirs with heavy oil that is difficult to extract. But in recent years, PDO has developed techniques to boost production. These include a data tool, called Nibras, which collates 1mn data values every couple of minutes from its 10,000 wells and other PDO infrastructure.

The data provides key indicators on wells and the state of the reservoir, which help engineers make better decisions. “If you keep the reservoir optimised then production increases,” said Yahya al Riyami, a PDO technician.

Previously, we’d have inspected a production component that needed adjustment. If we couldn’t get expert advice from engineers on the phone, we weren’t able to change settings there and then. With the mobile platform, changes that sometimes took two days can now be made in an hour or two because we can communicate so much faster,” he said. Through Nibras, they can check if their well adjustments are working or identify faulty data readings. It helps reduce the time technicians spend outside, where temperatures can reach 50°C.

During the call, a technician at the wellhead, a PDO engineer in Muscat and the UK-based supplier found a way of fixing the equipment, avoiding the need for the supplier to visit Oman. It saved time and money.

Alongside others, PDO is pushing the frontier of digital technology in the oil industry,” said Bert Natalicchio, Shell’s vice president of engineering and smart technologies.

This platform is about bringing office capabilities into the field. Digitalisation is about transforming the way you work, and that’s happening in Oman,” Natalicchio added.

  • Oman
  • Oil & Gas Sector
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