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Collaboration Furthers Integrated Operations

Smart Field, e-Field, Field of the Future or simply Integrated Operations (IO). Whatever the label, the vision is one of improving collaboration between technology stakeholders, and Kongsberg Maritime's new IO Lab looks like being an important step.

In the last two decades, the oil & gas industry has gone through two distinct generations of efficiency improvement, which have been enabled by the development of new technologies related to seismics, reservoir information, advanced well design and the introduction of more sophisticated floating production units. IO represents the third generation of efficiency improvement. Unlike technical developments that drove previous generations, this third generation focuses on information technology, work processes and integrated team collaboration to make vast improvements in both operational efficiency and HSE performance. By some estimates, companies operating in the Norwegian Continental Shelf can expect IO to yield a potential value in excess of 40 billion USD for the period 2005 - 2015.

One such company providing the tools to enable this to operators on the Norwegian Continental Shelf is Norwegian company Kongsberg Maritime. In reflection of the increasing focus on IO, the company formed a new operational division at the end of 2007, committed to improving operational efficiency through the use of information technology. Kongsberg Maritime's Oil & Gas division is headed up by company veteran and Senior Vice President, Nils Standal, and has been formed following the purchase of Fantoft Process Technology - dynamic process modelling and simulators - and Sense Intellifield - information management, visualisation and collaborative work environment solutions - and the subsequent merger with the Kongsberg Maritime's own process simulation and automation department.

Commenting on the formation of the new Oil & Gas division at Kongsberg Maritime, Nils Standal said: "We have been providing technology solutions for some years now but the acquisition of Fantoft and Sense Intellifield were vital to making the Integrated Operations concept a reality. The new division will address our increasing growth and focus on the oil & gas market following these acquisitions and as a starting point, we will deliver hardware and software solutions covering process control and safety systems, simulation of oil and gas processes, drilling data handling, 3D visualisation and of course tools for Integrated Operations."

Kongsberg Maritime's Oil & Gas Division has set several goals designed to realise the IO concept through alignment of the best technology and work processes, which include:

  • Utilise and optimise existing tools and applications
  • Develop and apply new technologies and solutions
  • Seek new ways to combine new technology and solutions
  • Introduce complete system integration and collaborative work environments
  • Make real-time and historical data accessible through networks, visualization and cross discipline collaboration
  • Train and develop people to operate new technology efficiently

Laboratoire Kongsberg
For several years prior to the official introduction of the Oil & Gas division, Kongsberg Maritime had created a strong reputation for providing efficiency improving tools and services for the Oil & Gas division, playing a key role in the forthcoming explosion of the IO concept. The company embarked on an extensive project in 2007, which now forms a vital part of the Oil & Gas division and in fact, the continuing development of IO.

Simply called the IO Lab, this sophisticated 40 m2 room at Kongsberg Maritime's headquarters in Kongsberg, Norway was implemented to establish work practices and develop tools for improved and more efficient collaboration between the company's own engineers and its customers' engineers, for both modification and maintenance tasks and for new projects.

The vision for the IO Lab is to develop tools and working methods for efficient collaboration between people with different competencies located at different sites. This can be online support to the operators at an oil and gas production platform, cooperation with the experts at the oil company's onshore support centre or collaboration between internal sites in Kongsberg Maritime. Experts from the operator organisations and from the relevant suppliers will have the working environment and tools that help them to solve their problems more efficiently and to a higher quality.

Kongsberg Maritime has in the past years developed several software tools that have potential to contribute to increased quality of decision support and means for improved collaboration. Examples are advanced process simulators, information management systems, real time 3-dimensional visualisation systems and remote diagnostics of the AIM control system. The IO lab will help to line these tools into a whole and to inspire ideas on how to improve them to further increase their efficiency.

"The room will enable us to remotely assist our customers, more efficiently and in a very short time scale by bringing in the required experts without having to travel to the actual site, which in many cases will be an offshore platform," explains Trond Weberg, Vice President Technology, Kongsberg Maritime. "By using audiovisual technology and communications equipment, and having access to the same tools the cooperation and collaboration will be as good as being physical present at the site. We are of course looking forward to using the facility to demonstrate the capabilities and products we offer within Integrated Operations to the oil & gas industry."

Presently the room is equipped with advanced audiovisual systems, 3D visualisation software for wells and even the reservoir, real time information systems for both drilling operations and the oil and gas production, and advanced process simulators, which can be seamlessly linked to the control system for testing purposes. The simulators also have the optional possibility of being used as real time operation support tool by predicting how the conditions (pressure, temperature, liquid content, formation of liquid slugs) in a multiphase pipeline changes by time and how it will further develop.

Further, remote access to customers' process control systems is possible (inspection, diagnostics, re-configuration, parameterisation), and also mechanisms to regularly sample copies of the control system configurations and parameterisations at a specified plant. Finally an example of a real time logistic model, visualised in 3 dimensions, of the offshore oil and gas field centre is installed. Here you can see all present ship traffic (supply vessels etc.), actual wave heights etc.

The IO Lab Project started January 2007 and was completed July 2007. The design of the room, including furniture and required hardware and communication software, was done by Kongsberg Intellifield specialists within Intelligent Collaboration Environment. The room is physically located in the Process Control Department's Office in Carpus -Kongsberg. It is equipped with 4 large size screens with full flexibility for audiovisual use or showing application software user interfaces.

Connecting to Kristin
The Kristin gas and condensate field is located in the south western part of the Haltenbanken in the Norwegian Sea, about 240km from land. The reservoir is almost 5000m below the sea floor and will be produced through 12 subsea wells, developed with a subsea production system tied back to a semi submersible platform. The approach adopted by Statoil to address the extreme conditions due to reservoir pressure and temperature has had to be technology led, and as such, the Kristin Project is a shining example of the possibilities that IO presents.

Statoil, Aker Kvaerner and Kongsberg Maritime have for some years been working together to develop and integrate new technology for Kristin. Through Aker Kvaerner, Kongsberg Maritime has supplied integrated safety and automation systems, process and marine control systems and the ASSETT dynamic process simulator.

The central nervous system of IO on Kristin is the Information Management System (IMS), which was also developed by Kongsberg Maritime. It collects data from the process computers as well as from field instruments and sensors. This data is stored, processed and structured in a way that reduces operations and gives consistent information to technical staff. The IMS is also linked to Statoil's organisation through a fibre optic network, which enables the same data to be made available to different specialist groups.

The possibilities of sharing data in this manner have been expanded by the opening of the Kongsberg Maritime IO Lab. On 25th October 2007, history was made when Kongsberg Maritime became the first supplier to connect live to the Kristin Platform as a demonstration of the IO and collaboration concepts and as a practicality due to the five Kongsberg Maritime maintenance engineers onsite to work on the process control systems.

The occasion was marked by the attendance of Vidar Hepsøe and Arne S. Bye from StatoilHydro: "This is indeed an event worth marking. Together we have succeeded in realising the fundamental idea within integrated operations. This will definitely improve communications and bring us closer to the expertise in a more efficient way," said Arne S. Bye.

The IO Lab will be a powerful communication tool for the collaborative work on Kristin believes Kongsberg Maritime's Nils Standal. "This is the first practical approach to Integrated Operations between StatoilHydro and Kongsberg Maritime and we are very eager to continue the development. It is tremendously exciting to be the first supplier to be doing this and we have already agreed to continue this approach as our strategy in IO so far has been much appreciated by our customers."

Finding the balance between generating new resources and managing operational costs is a challenge for companies in the oil & gas industry, one that companies like Kongsberg Maritime, through its Oil & Gas division are helping to overcome. Precisely how Integrated Operations, the third generation of efficiency improvement will change the industry is even now difficult to predict as the discipline is so broad, dynamic and fluid.

One of the goals of IO, that of enhanced collaboration between suppliers and operators, and sea and shore, is already providing huge benefits to the oil & gas industry. When this collaboration is applied to the development of IO itself, for the systems at sea such as those on Kristin or the tools on land such as the new IO Lab at Kongsberg Maritime's headquarters, his generation of efficiency improvement and the technology it produces could well be the defining factor in the continuing health of the oil & gas industry.

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