Petrotechnics Improving Production Efficiency & Lowering Operational Risk Wed, 25 Nov 2015 16:32:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Improve Plant Operations with Enterprise Technology Tue, 17 Nov 2015 15:16:28 +0000


In early 2009, the author was asked a rhetorical question by a senior executive with a major international oil company: “How do you run a business when your product unit price rises from $60/bbl to $140/bbl in the space of 14 months, and then drops to $40/bbl in less than six months?” My reply was, “Well, that’s the oil business for you!” True enough, all of us have learned that being in this industry is a bit like taking a ride at the fairground, with a blindfold—and, as we have seen with recent oil price volatility, the ride continues.


I have often reflected on the frustration of that senior executive and recognized the difficulties he faced with making decisions in an environment full of uncertainty, beyond the price of oil. Other challenges are abundant, such as aging assets, workforce competency, production costs, safety and environmental risks, geopolitical swings, societal pressures, regulatory changes, etc.


These challenges must be managed to the satisfaction of shareholders, but how that is achieved is perhaps more important, given emerging market areas and the competition to gain access to these markets, whether through JVs or licensed operations. Those competing must bring more than just capital to the table. Their technical knowhow is a differentiator, but more so are the processes and techniques for managing safe, clean and cost efficient operations.


Being an “excellent operator” is an essential strategy these days. In a volatile market, those companies that can react quickest to market opportunities will be the most profitable and will rise to the top. Likewise, companies that can demonstrate the lowest operating costs, the fewest number of incidents and the most efficient operations will be the most successful. (Fig. 1).


Fig.1. – Companies that can demonstrate the lowest operating cost,

the fewest number of incidents and the most efficient operations at their plants will be

the most successful operators.  


Taking a ride at the fairground, with a blindfold


Operational excellence has long been a topic of conversation in the hydrocarbon processing industry (HPI), and it has never been more relevant. In complex, multifunctional organizations that operate complex assets, agility is easier discussed than achieved. Operational excellence programs have been striving to address this issue for many reasons. With fluctuating commodity prices and constrained budgets, operational excellence offers a real way forward to manage fixed costs and simultaneously reduce safety and environmental risks. Operational excellence is the means to survive as well as thrive.


“One version of the truth” has been a mantra for many years, and indeed has driven many successful programs. In spite of this, performance gaps remain, and process upsets and incidents continue. Now is the time to examine operational excellence through the lens of operational risk.


Operational excellence is the practice of getting the most out of assets safely, efficiently, effectively and in a sustainable manner. It is the practice of managing risk, improving the productivity of operations and keeping people and assets safe. Three building blocks toward achieving operational excellence may be considered, from operational risk management to capital effectiveness and asset productivity. By starting with a better understanding of operational risk and how people, assets, the environment, reputation, health and major hazard risks come together, more of the right things can get done at the right time and in the right way. This enables the safe and cost effective extraction of the maximum value from an asset. If the right things are not getting done, then assets are not being optimized.


In general, most companies have a good idea of what could go wrong in their plants, how bad it could be, and what could be done to minimize the risks. They have identified major hazards through failure analyses and specified multiple barrier systems to prevent an event from happening, to mitigate its consequences, and to avoid risk escalation. Formal or informal operations management systems, including functional operations excellence programs, help manage the process safety lifecycle, from how to handle management of change (MOC) to operating procedures, safe working practices, competency and training.


Managing the health of process safety barriers is crucial throughout the life of an asset to sustain its reliable performance. Over time, this becomes more challenging as equipment ages, as wall thicknesses shrink due to corrosion, and as general wear and tear take their toll on the reliability of safety critical equipment. It is up to the operations team to address these needs and to ascertain where to devote resources to achieve the best value. Competition is ongoing in an organization between different interest groups, with each group vying for its share of resources. Maintenance, reliability, process safety, asset integrity, projects and others compete for budget share and space in a typically crowded schedule. Each group will emphasize the consequences of deferring activity, be it cost escalation, production decline, opportunity loss, increasing safety risk, or regulation violation. Some of the activities will necessitate bringing equipment out of service, reducing plant throughput and, in the extreme, shutting down an entire unit.


Operations will be in the thick of this wrestling match, arguing for plant uptime to meet targets. This is where operational excellence can make a difference. The long term decisions on prioritization, short term decisions on planning and scheduling, and day to day management of activities are where truly excellent companies excel. The problem facing most organizations is how to best compare all of the options and choose which one is right for the business as a whole.


The symptoms of “not getting it right” are obvious and include unplanned plant and equipment outages, extreme maintenance backlogs, deferments of safety critical inspection/testing and an increased number of integrity failures. Many companies set out on a new asset with the intention of implementing proactive maintenance, but very quickly they become swamped and fail to balance competing needs. All too easily, they slip into a “fix and repair” mode vs. a “maintain and prevent” approach.


As assets age, this becomes more critical—not just due to aging equipment, but also to changes in demand on the facility. Market dynamics can often extend the useful life of an asset and associated infrastructure well beyond its original design life. This puts tremendous pressure on the teams responsible for keeping the plant running, in good repair and compliant with internal standards and regulatory requirements. Some refineries and petrochemical plants have systems still in operation that were installed over 50 years ago. The many years of operating with slender commercial margins and the resulting squeeze on maintenance budgets have taken their toll. It is no wonder that plant owners seem to be fighting a losing battle in which complaints such as “We just can’t get enough of the ‘right’ things done safely and efficiently” are heard.


Why is it so difficult?


Surprisingly, one of the biggest challenges is the ability to promptly define the issues and compare options using common criteria. For example, a project team manager wants to install a new deluge system around major vessels in the fluid catalytic cracking (FCC) unit. This job will render the area inaccessible for four months. The asset integrity manager is arguing that deferring the planned pipework inspection program will increase the risk of plant failure.


The facility manager will likely opt for the project crew since a new deluge system will restore the necessary performance vs. the current system, which is constantly in need of repairs. Corrosion, the manager knows, is relatively slow acting, and the pipework does not look “that bad.” However, the manager feels guilty because this is the third time the inspection crew has been deferred.


This is not an uncommon scenario; these types of decisions are determined every day by budgets, logistics constraints and “gut instinct” rather than by rational decisions. What is needed is better data, in a more accessible manner, to allow decision makers to compare options. Dealing with future uncertainties typically boils down to the risk of welcome or unwelcome outcomes, for example: How quickly could corrosion in that pipe have accelerated, bringing us closer to a line failure? What are the real benefits of restoring the deluge system?


These choices can be made even more complicated by another project team, with a debottlenecking project in the same area that could restore the unit to full capacity. The challenge emerges of deciding between two optional activity costs to keep the plant going, compared to the costs of increasing the potential throughput and revenue stream from the plant.


Data is the root of the problem. Data is gathered to understand the health of equipment and systems and is typically held in closed “silos” inside organizations, inaccessible in a useful manner to the majority. Standalone data systems or spreadsheets are used to manage the masses of data, often jealously guarded by subject matter experts who alone can access and interpret this data.


Management processes are in place, generating performance indicators, but the data they provide is often difficult to utilize effectively. Lagging indicators capture the symptoms already mentioned: equipment failure, system outages, loss of containment incidents, etc. What some people refer to as “leading indicators” typically focus on the health of the management system. Like lagging indicators, they provide data that is useful for showing trends but not specific or timely enough to support operational decisions. What must be known is the potential impact of each of these conditions or non-compliances, and the cumulative impact of all of them in the context of day-to-day operations.


For example, one such key performance indicator (KPI) might be that 95% of safety critical inspections were carried out on schedule. This sounds impressive, but it begs questions about the 5% that were deferred. What is included in those inspections, and what might they impact? If 80% of piping and instrumentation diagrams (P&IDs) are up to date, what about the 20% that are not? If 85% of overdue MOC tickets will be closed out this month, what is the impact of the 15% that will not? Furthermore, what is the risk impact when these three items converge as work is carried out in one area of the plant during a specific time frame?


KPIs look very different, depending on who is observing. Those organizations with leaders who spend the time to visit facilities and are competent enough to recognize what they are seeing will likely outperform those companies with leaders who rely on KPIs. Not too long ago, the author was speaking with a regional maintenance director, who said, “What’s interesting is that all of the indicators that are pushed up to me look good. Our operational reality is completely different. Unplanned outages, rising costs, maintenance backlogs, declining capacity, near misses—how do we reconcile these two visions of the world?”


The conclusion is that many separate functions exist in our organizations, each with their own risk management systems, but it is difficult to compare the priorities each system generates.


Are we forced to wear the blindfold?


The way data is gathered, analyzed and disseminated needs to be improved. Too many systems reflect individual organizational structures. They are standalone systems, and do not communicate with each other very well. We need to find better ways to integrate systems across enterprises. Data and analysis must be easily shared at the frontline and through all levels, including the boardroom, as a true reflection of how the organization is performing.


Better ways to deal with management processes (most of which are effectively risk management systems) are also needed. When non-conformances are identified, the impact on operations must be identified, allowing better prioritization choices to be made. Rather than being focused on how well each management process is working, the combined effect of deviations on the safe and effective operation of the facility must be understood. The way in which these deviations impact the fundamental process safety barriers that protect people, assets, the facility and its surroundings against major accidents must be identified.


To deliver on the promise of operational excellence, operators must integrate operations management and risk management at an enterprise level. These concepts are not new, but the tools capable of properly managing them are only starting to emerge.


Managing the ride


Enterprise operations excellence management software platforms offer improvements over traditional ways of assessing operational risk. These decision support tools help manage the complete planning-to-execution business process. By utilizing these solutions, companies can visualize risk at all levels of their organizations and significantly improve operational performance. By better integrating planning, maintenance and operations, companies can access visibility into the complete operation, driving increased efficiency and effectiveness overall.


Operations excellence management platforms enable plant operators to standardize initiatives, policies, processes and procedures across their organizations, driving a culture of excellence. They enable operators to:


  • Employ routine and efficient management of operational risk throughout the organization
  • Understand the contributing factors to safety risk and their impact on process safety barriers in one place, in real time
  • Produce new leading indicators of operational risk that reflect the operational reality of the plant
  • Close the gaps between maintenance, planning and the operational reality of the plant to achieve better plan attainment, wrench time and operational decisions
  • See all risk across the entire organization.


These enterprise systems have emerged from a realization of the gaps between planning, maintenance and operations processes and look to provide a way to integrate them into a holistic, end-to-end solution.

Existing practices result in isolated silos of data and information reflecting the different organizational silos that produce data. Interoperability is vital to achieving a holistic understanding of plant health. Operations excellence management platforms are designed to interface with ERP, EAMCMMS maintenance management systems, inspection databases, and planning and scheduling systems to help identify plant conditions and the real-time status of barrier impairments, to manage work safely and efficiently and to improve future plan attainment.


A built-in risk assessment engine provides the necessary workflow to assess the impact of deviations associated with risk-control systems, major events and impaired process safety barriers—all in the context of daily operations. By aggregating deviations and non-conformances with functional data-management systems, operators can access early-warning signals of the potential for a major incident by a specific area of the plant, across a unit, and throughout an entire facility, over a specific duration.


Furthermore, connecting the performance of process safety management systems to their impact on operations enables operators to make proactive interventions to prevent major accidents. Dashboards (Fig. 2) simplify operational risk management through a consistent means of visualizing risk, so that everyone across the plant can make better decisions.


They help operators understand plant status in terms of risks, trends and peak exposures. Icons on graphical screens show area(s) of the plant affected by impairments and deviations, in addition to their cumulative impact on process safety barriers and activities that could contribute to an actual event.


Fig.2. – Dashboards simplify operational risk management

through consistent means of visualizing risk to plant operations.



Prioritizing work based on risk is more achievable with an enterprise operations excellence management solution. At present, many operational teams recognize the value of being able to prioritize, fix or maintain activities by the level of risk reduction they achieve. The ability to determine and compare with alternatives has always been elusive, but, with this

new category of software technology, such comparisons are easier to understand. They drive increased efficiency and effectiveness through improved plan accuracy, plan attainment, plan safety and overall wrench time, thereby maximizing the value of assets (Fig. 3).


Fig.3. – Enterprise operations excellence

management software technology drives

increased efficiency and effectiveness,

thereby maximizing value of assets.


Additionally, the frontline workforce is better informed about the risk consequences of their planned activities, and, as a result, they can make better decisions. The organization as a whole has greater insight into day-to-day operational risk exposure, as well as the efficiencies gained in work execution. This is true across the enterprise, making it easier to compare performance among assets and among regions.


Back to the ride at the fairground While these new technology solutions may not be able to smooth out the entire ride, they allow the blindfold to slip a little by providing predictive views of what is coming around the bend. In doing so, they enable better decision making.


Companies that want to pursue operational excellence must make significant changes to the way they work. Organizational barriers need to be knocked down, and data needs to be shared more widely and leveraged to its full potential for performance to improve. Enterprise-wide operations excellence management technology is the only way to achieve this to its fullest while driving a culture of excellence.


As with physical plant processes, business processes need to be systematized so that they generate the data needed to make better decisions. Risk management based on generic data beyond its sell-by date should be a thing of the past—and, with technology, it can be. Returning to the senior executive I met with back in 2009, if he were to ask me the same question today, I think I would have a better answer for him!

Click here to find out more about the author.


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Awareness Of Your Elevated Risks Tue, 13 Oct 2015 11:51:01 +0000

Aberdeen-based software company is seeing big interest in its ‘Proscient’ solution to help offshore workers be more aware about elevated risks, so they can plan their work accordingly.

One thread common to the Piper Alpha, Texas City Refinery and Deepwater Horizon accident investigation reports is there were multiple factors which elevated risk levels leading up to the incidents.

Taken on their own, they may have been considered to represent an acceptable level of risk, but unfortunately their cumulative impact on risk was much higher than was realized at the time. They also represented multiple opportunities for preventing the incident from occurring or escalating.

“In all 3 incidents, there were multiple prevention and mitigation barriers which failed, each representing an opportunity to stop the accident from happening or at least mitigating its consequences. The problem in all 3 incidents was the information which could have informed and possibly changed the decisions that were made was not easily available,” said Mike Neill, North American President of Aberdeen software company, Petrotechnics.

“Most people have a keen survival instinct so when hazards are obvious, they will react to avoid an incident,” Mr. Neill continues. “If you walk down some steep steps and there is not a hand rail, you naturally proceed with some caution or you do not go down at all being aware of the fall hazard. Today, few people smoke cigarettes because they are aware of the publicized cancer, heart attack and stroke risk. 50 years ago the majority of people smoked. The risks were the same but the population at large were unaware of them.

These simple examples show how people change their behavior and make different decisions based on information received, and as a result, they reduce their exposure to risk.

The aim here is to show if information about risk factors had been more widely shared in the case of Piper Alpha, Texas City and Deep-water Horizon, these accidents might not have occurred.

In hazardous industries, “multiple layers of protection” are used so organizations are not just relying on the performance of a single barrier, recognizing that each of the multiple layers may not be perfect.

Swiss cheese is a commonly used metaphor for the protection layers. The holes represent the barrier imperfections, and incidents occur when all of the holes in each of the layers line up, a failure of not just one but of several barriers.

“When major accidents are investigated, it is typical to find there were many opportunities for people to intervene and prevent the incident from occurring or escalating. Typically the reason cited for lack of intervention was they did not have all the relevant, up-to-date information to make better decisions. They were unable to join up the dots, so to speak. They did not see the holes in the cheese lining up,” says Mr. Neill.

Petrotechnics’ flagship operational excellence management platform, ‘Proscient,’ can be used to understand and manage elevated risk associated with operations. For example, the software can help everyone on the platform be aware if there is a planned maintenance task which will elevate risks, such if you have to temporarily break pipework or a containment system to do a job.

You might be planning to inspect electrical junction boxes, which means there is a possible source of an ignition spark. Normally the junction boxes are closed and sealed, so any gas in the air can’t reach inside. With Proscient, an icon will show on a map of the plant that the ignition barrier system is currently compromised.

The system can share information about particularly high-risk tasks being carried out, such as a heavy lift over a live plant or performing “hot work” with a naked flame or ignition source.

If safety equipment is unavailable, such as if the sprinkler system is blocked with scale, you can indicate one of your safety barriers is not working, risks are therefore higher in that area of the plant and the decision might mean to not carry out with the intended work program.

Proscient can share information about which pieces of safety equipment are overdue for inspection or maintenance in specific areas.

A company may have a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) saying 95 per cent of its safety critical maintenance and inspections are up to  date. This may give a false sense of confidence, particularly if the 5 per cent overdue is in one area where you are planning hazardous work. “Reliance on broad brush KPIs is not sufficient. You need to know details of deferrals, and these need to be current and area specific so the relevant people can make the correct judgements about activities,” Mr. Neill says.

This information can be made available to all staff members through clear visualisations. “We’re trying to bring this stuff together so it is more staring you in the face,” Mr. Neill says.

The software is used by offshore staff to log and monitor anything which is increasing risk from a minimum acceptable level, and this information can then be widely shared, with pictures, showing what is leading to a higher risk and what extra measures should be taken. “A lot of data tends to be kept by specific experts, perhaps because they think no-one else will understand it,” Mr. Neill says. So one of the things Proscient does is aim to make this easier, creating visualisations for data in real-time.

The software takes all the elevated levels of risk into account and provides an overall assessment, shown with a red traffic light. This can be used as a basis for users to make alterations to the plan, until the software displays amber or green signals, showing the risk potential has reached an acceptable level.

A danger signal might be because (for example) certain high-risk jobs are happening at the same time, in the same place, or a number of concurrent high-risk jobs are working against one another.


Decisions about taking action to reduce risk are relatively complex, when it comes to prioritizing one task over another. Priorities have to be made because there is always limited resource. In the case of offshore facilities the constraints can be finite bed space and helicopter seats.

Without a tool like Proscient, the impact on risk of performing one task versus another is difficult to judge so often is given less consideration. Similarly, the consequence of tasks being delayed often results in increasing risk. But this can be difficult to quantify which weakens its priority justification. In the end, it often comes down to who shouts loudest as to what work is prioritised, Mr Neill says.

When it comes to day-of work, frontline decision makers are typically pragmatic. So if they are not made aware of defective barrier systems, they will typically assume all is in good order, unless there are visual indications to the contrary, Mr. Neill says.

Proscient helps support frontline decision makers. For example there is a low pressure drainage system where pitting corrosion has resulted in leaks, yet the leaks have been patched. You could say “that’s a medium level risk” (in case the patches fail) and “any work within a 20m radius should always have continuous gas monitoring, until the pipework has been replaced.”

Ultimately, decisions need to be made by people not a machine, but the software means that operations decisions are “not made while wearing a blindfold,” he said.

“The system isn’t going to judge what’s safe and what isn’t,” he said. “We’re providing information that allows users to make better, more informed decisions.”


The “Proscient” software has many graphical displays, for example showing a layout of the facility, with icons showing the work which is currently going on, and flags showing where there are weaknesses in some of the barrier systems.

The software is web-based, so the client just needs a PC with a browser or a mobile tablet. It can be hosted by Petrotechnics or by the client. “Offshore on platform you’re never that far from a PC,” he says.

“We’re finding in the US there’s a big push for using mobile solutions. We have dedicated apps that sit on mobile tablets and are user friendly in the field.

The software can automatically suck data from other software packages such as SAP, Maximo, Primavera, OSIsoft and more.



Petrotechnics is mainly focused on production operations in the oil and gas and petrochemical industries but has recently broken into rail transportation.

The two most recent publicly announced oil and gas contracts were in February 2015, with Nexen agreeing to install the Proscient software on two offshore assets in the North Sea, and in September 2014, with Teekay Petrojarl agreeing to deploy the software on its FPSOs in the North Sea (both UK and Norwegian sectors) and in Brazil.

One major oil company has Petrotechnics’ software installed on all of its upstream assets, and staff say it is “second only to e-mail as the most used piece of software on a facility,” says Mr. Neill.

Read the article in full here.

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Petrotechnics Featured In Rigzone: Focus on Operational Efficiency Needed in North Sea Wed, 16 Sep 2015 10:23:34 +0000

The North Sea oil and gas industry’s main reaction to low oil prices needs to focus on addressing the underlying of operational inefficiency, an industry official told Rigzone in a recent interview.

While unit cost and increased activity have contributed to increased North Sea operating costs, the single biggest cause of rising costs in the basin is inefficiency in operations. What’s interesting about the latest efficiency initiative launched by Oil & Gas UK is the move from cost-cutting to efficiency to transformation, Petrotechnics Ltd. CEO Phil Murray told Rigzone in an interview on the sidelines of the SPE Offshore Europe Conference Tuesday in Aberdeen.

Operational inefficiencies are not new to the oil and gas industry, but oil price upswings in a cyclical market has offset the effect of inefficiencies, allowing them to remain. Seven years ago, Murray was asked to speak at a conference on operational inefficiency in light of the 2009 oil price decline. But by the time the conference rolled around, oil had rebounded to $70/barrel and kept rising, saving the industry from inefficiency.

If the industry is to survive in what BP CEO Bob Dudley expects to be a “lower for longer” price environment, the industry will need to address these inefficiencies and the costs associated with them, said Murray, whose company focuses on improving operational efficiencies in oil and gas.

“Historically, we’ve let ourselves off the hook.”

The industry has been good at cost reduction, but not good at addressing inefficiency, Murray said. Transformation is even more difficult. The industry’s cyclical nature makes this so – if everyone is waiting for oil prices to rebound, they don’t have to change.

In upstream oil and gas, inefficiencies and poor quality don’t hit companies like they would automobiles on a showroom floor, Murray said. The lack of consumers in upstream oil and gas means that that drive and competition doesn’t exist like it does in the automotive industry.

“We need to work harder to build that drive into the way we operate.”

This drive includes standardization of equipment, said Murray, who saw attempts towards standardization while working in industry 25 years ago. In a margin-driven business, a company will seek ways to save while enhancing revenue and productivity. In a business not driven by standardization, the luxury of bespoke production can be afforded.

“We constantly say we can learn lessons from the automotive and aerospace industries,” said Murray. “We know what those lessons are. We need to apply them.”

Will this finally change? If there was ever a time for change, that time is now, particularly in the North Sea Basin, due to the perfect storm of low oil prices, high costs, mature basins, declining production efficiency and aging infrastructure. Companies will need to look at and address their risks in a new way to boost production performance.

Digital oilfield technology has transformed other industries, but has yet to hit the oilfield. Murray believes this technology is one of the levers that oil and gas companies can pull to enhance efficiency.

Workers from the executive level to the oilfield worker holding the wrench need the power to make better decisions; the intelligent use of digital technology is the solution to industry’s Big Data problem, Murray added. Being able to visualize data in a new way can help CEOs determine if their company faces more or less risk in a year, or whether supervisors can postpone a job.

“Everybody is talking about risk, but we don’t have tools to help people manage that,” said Murray. “What we’re talking about is using technology we have now to create a common currency of operational risk.”

By looking at risk in the same way a financial balance sheet is examined, companies can determine whether to invest in improving maintenance, standardization, or another area.

And rather than setting safety against production, risk should be managed in a holistic way to lower risk while raising production. “This is what manufacturers have learned,” Murray commented. “When they built quality into their manufacturing system, their quality went up.”

By implementing routine risk management into oil and gas operations, quality will rise as well.

“The industry has a track record for meeting challenges and meeting them well,” said Murray. “The North Sea is a great example.”

But events such as the 2010 Deepwater Horizon incident serve as reminders of the consequences of getting it wrong. There’s no substitute for expertise, Murray said, noting that the industry can’t afford to lose expertise. More collaboration and sharing of lessons learned is needed in the industry.

“The number of times of repeating mistakes is not a smart things to do.”

In addition to digital technology, business processes must be developed to allow information to be shared across the process gaps that exist within companies. A company may have great key performance indicators, but the world could be falling apart around them, Murray said.

“The equipment on an offshore platform doesn’t care who you work for. Without the cohesive force of a customer such as in the automotive industry – where if a car doesn’t work, it doesn’t work – it’s easy for silos to crop up within companies.”

The other sort of gap that exists is between the plans and the reality of oil and gas operations. Particularly in the North Sea, many plans are done onshore. Better collaborative technology exists to address the gap between plans and realities for oil and gas, but better business planning and processes are needed with the actual execution of projects, Murray said.

“It may be complex, but it doesn’t have to be complicated.”

Read the article on Rigzone here.

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Promoting efficiency and reduced operational risk Wed, 12 Aug 2015 14:56:25 +0000


Petrotechnics, a leading provider of Enterprise Operations Excellence Management software solutions, is strengthening its Middle East presence in response to the growth in demand for its flagship solution Proscient.™

Introduced in 2013, Proscient is the Enterprise Operations Excellence Management platform specifically designed to enable organisations in hazardous industries to optimise production efficiency and lower operational risk. With powerful capabilities to ensure the strategic intent of policy is systematised in operational practice, organisations can ensure workload is consistently managed against risk, according to policy, across one or many of their plants.

“One of the main drivers behind digital oilfields is to enable operators to get more out of their existing assets,” comments David Bleackley, vice president of sales at Petrotechnics. “This offers many parallels with what we’re doing and how we fit into operational excellence programmes — it is all about enabling people to get more out of their existing assets, by which we mean both capital assets and human assets. In order to do that, companies are striving to understand the gaps in their business processes to enable them to drive these business processes more effectively — that’s where we fit in. It is not sufficient to keep individual plant, assets or operators safe, you need a much wider understanding of the operational risk you face as an organisation in order to be able to make safe and effective operational decisions.”

How does Proscient work? “All our customers have a range of operational management systems and risk control systems associated with their plant, and for each of those systems they will have a set of performance standards or criteria which they are managing those systems to,” explains Bleackley. “The challenge comes when the system fails to meet those criteria; what are the operational decisions that need to be made to keep operating in a safe way and above a safe threshold, and how do you prioritise your work activity in light of those deviations from your own performance standards?

“The software identifies what those deviations are. It then allows you to understand the significance of those deviations, both individually and collectively, and based on that understanding of the level of risk created by those deviations enables operators to prioritise a) how they continue to operate the plant and, b) what interventions they are going to make — both in the near term and in the medium term. There are a number of disparate business processes associated with that, because traditionally these individual risk control systems have been managed by different technical authorities or different functional groups within an operator; Proscient brings that collective view and collective impact of all those deviations occurring.

“So our technology allows people to make better decisions about how to continue to operate, as well as to prioritise what to do to rectify the situation. It is not immediately intuitive, because of the large number of people and the different business processes involved. We provide a common understanding of the challenge an operator is faced with.”

The Middle East is a key growth area for Petrotechnics and the company sees huge potential in the region, says Bleackley. “Proscient is now a recognised solution within the global oil and gas sector, and we’ve seen strong growth in demand for our technology over the last few years worldwide. But there are some specific factors in the Middle East which are driving us to look at this region with increased focus. Firstly, there is a certain degree of cultural change occurring in the Middle East at the moment, related both to fundamental safety culture and to operational excellence culture — both aspects are sweet-spots for our platform, and we are well placed to capitalise on these cultural changes. And secondly there is the long-term, strategic outlook of the Middle East operators.

“We have several ongoing installations in the Middle East due soon to go live, and a couple of pending awards, as well as a number of installations in North Africa,” adds Bleackley. “We see the need for a strong presence in the region and are building up our team in the Gulf states, where we currently have offices in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. This will strengthen our ability to service existing clients, while identifying and developing new opportunities David Bleackley, vice president of sales, Petrotechnics in the region.”

This article was published in Vol. 18 of Oil Review Middle East.

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Petrotechnics launches new competency and training centre Tue, 04 Aug 2015 14:46:24 +0000

New facility will meet increasing demand for operational excellence training in hazardous industries.

Aberdeen, UK, 4th August 2015 – Petrotechnics, the enterprise operations excellence management solutions provider, today celebrates the opening of its state-of-the-art competency and training centre. Located at the company’s Aberdeen headquarters, the new facility will address changing demands for operations excellence training in hazardous industries, including oil and gas, chemical and rail.

To date, over 70,000 people have been through Petrotechnics’ training programmes, with more than 4,000 delegates enrolled in the last year alone. The new centre will offer increased capacity to meet growing demand for a range of courses, including Petrotechnics’ leading software platform, Proscient.

The centre’s new classrooms feature state-of-the-art interactive facilities and a broader range of training programmes, from traditional classroom training to “self-paced” and “on-demand” options for online learning.

“Petrotechnics has been delivering training for over 25 years and during that time we have experienced a significant shift in industry demands from simple control of work to integrated operational risk and operations management best practices. Our investment in this new facility is part of our ongoing commitment to maintaining quality competence practices and addressing complex training needs across hazardous industries,” says Iain Mackay, Executive Vice President, Petrotechnics.

Petrotechnics’ team of 26 veteran trainers and coaches have a combined industry experience of 460 years. Their global expertise and knowledge is unrivalled in helping companies in hazardous industries improve how they manage risk, hazards and operational safety. Petrotechnics’ trainers have supported over 48 major projects with courses delivered in 24 countries on every continent.

“Hazardous industries have long understood the value of having a competent, trained workforce, and its contribution to productivity and safety,” adds John Broomfield, Training Operations Manager, Petrotechnics.

“However, the means of achieving and maintaining a competent workforce have changed, and we have seen a steady evolution in industry training requirements, leading us to enhance our facilities and courses to meet this demand.”

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CIO Review Recognizes Petrotechnics as a Leading Enterprise Risk Management Solution Provider Thu, 09 Jul 2015 09:55:50 +0000 Proscient awarded for empowering organizations to proactively manage operational risk

Houston, TX — July 9, 2015Petrotechnics, the leading provider of enterprise operations excellence management software solutions, is proud to announce it was recognized by CIO Review as a 2015 “Most Promising Enterprise Risk Management Solution Provider” for its Proscient solution. Petrotechnics’ recognition is based on the evaluation of its proven Integrated Operational Risk Management solution.

Petrotechnics was selected by an independent panel of experts and members of CIO Review’s editorial board. “Petrotechnics has been on our radar for some time for stirring a revolution in the Enterprise Risk Management space,” said Harvi Sachar, Publisher and Founder, CIO Review. “We are happy to showcase them this year due to their continued excellence delivering top-notch, enterprise-wide operational risk management solutions that transform the way companies in hazardous industries understand, manage and mitigate risk.”

Proscient allows organizations in hazardous industries to better understand the cumulative operational risk they are carrying at any given time – which can be used to improve operational decision making at all levels of the organization. With a better understanding of the level and nature of risk being carried, risk mitigation can become an integral way of achieving efficient and effective operations. The benefits to the industry can range from an early warning system for potential major accident hazard (MAH) incidents – allowing organizations to make proactive interventions, better prioritize maintenance, and make more informed decisions around risk and activity at the frontline operations level.

“Petrotechnics is honored to be recognized by CIO Review’s panel of experts and thought leaders,” said Mike Neill, Petrotechnics President – North America. “This recognition affirms Petrotechnics’ vision to deliver world-class, game-changing solutions to help customers to reduce risk, improve operational performance and keep people safe. Proscient provides hazardous industries the ability to better understand risk and its impact on the operational reality of the plant. As a result they can make better decisions to safely improve operational effectiveness and efficiency of how they operate and maintain the plant to improve asset productivity,” added Neill.

Click to download the CIO Review article recognizing Petrotechnics’ Proscient as a Top Enterprise Risk Management Solution.

About CIO Review
CIO Review constantly endeavors to identify “The Best” in a variety of areas important to tech business. Through nominations and consultations with industry leaders, our editors choose the best in different domains. Enterprise Risk Management Special Edition is an annual listing of 20 Most Promising Enterprise Risk Management Solution Providers in the U.S.

About Petrotechnics
Petrotechnics was founded with a vision to keep more people safe in hazardous industries around the world. For over 25 years, Petrotechnics has delivered proven software solutions that empower organizations to improve the sustainability of their businesses through improved operational decision-making. Petrotechnics’ flagship enterprise operations excellence management platform, Proscient, integrates operations management and risk management at the enterprise level to help clients standardize initiatives, policies, processes and procedures across their organization, driving a culture of excellence. For more information on Petrotechnics or Proscient, please visit

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Interview with RPME: Move PSM Beyond Compliance for Safer, More Efficient Operations Wed, 08 Jul 2015 15:44:01 +0000

Refining and Petrochemicals Middle East delves below the corporate strategy to understand what really makes the industry’s leaders tick. This month Andrew Bartlett, Petrotechnics’ HSE Consultant, is interviewed.

Tell us a little bit about Petrotechnics’ main areas of focus here in the Middle East.

Petrotechnics has recently increased its presence in the Middle East by opening up an office in Abu Dhabi. The reason for this is that demand is growing amongst our Middle East clients.

We have an office in Saudi Arabia as well. We think that the main opportunities to grow our business are here in the Middle East. The customers here are appreciative of the fact that we offer enterprise solutions for process safety, which help them achieve their aims with regard to operational excellence.

How seriously does the Middle East take the issue of Process Safety, and does it invest enough in process safety technology?

Attending numerous conferences in the region has confirmed my belief that process safety is top of the list here.

We’ve heard some speeches from CEOs and presidents of some enormous companies, who are all telling us that process safety is top of their agenda. Really, you can’t afford for it not to be.

Companies cannot afford to fail to drive their process safety programmes.

In terms of finances, from what I’ve seen, process safety budgets are in good shape here.

Maintaining the equipment as well as maintaining process safety regimes all help to keep your assets working harder and working for longer.

What is the biggest single contributing factor in process safety incidents in the region?

Nearly all of the incidents that we have seen mentioned in recent conferences, and looking at the Marsh 100 Largest Losses report, most of the incidents concern loss of containment. Loss of containment, most of the time, is caused by process safety events, such as failing to monitor your corrosion, not letting people know what is happening in the plant, despite their being silos of information. That’s where we come in – we provide an enterprise software solution that allows those silos of information to be brought together and to be visible in one single place.

What is new about the product and which aspects of it are you most proud of?

We are proud of our barrier management facility which allows the ‘Swiss cheese’ or the ‘bow tie model’, the barriers that are affected by process safety deviations, to be seen in virtually real time. So that everyone can be aware if there is a relief valve which is out of service or there is a gas detector out of service in a particular area, then it is visible via our software.

If somebody needs to go and do some hot work in that particular area then it would be visible that they would need to take extra precautions. Our software helps do the risk assessment also.

What regional trends are you noticing in terms of process safety?

Yes, one of the big discussions that we are having in the Middle East at the moment is taking the idea process safety down to the front line operations and maintenance people. Instead of it just being with the engineers, the idea is to involve the operations and maintenance teams as well.

Training programmes are being put in place to give them the competencies to be able to recognise the risk in process safety.

At Petrotechnics we are proud of our ability to provide a solution that allows the close monitoring of process safety in any given facility. You only have to look at the Marsh 100 Largest Losses to see the devastation that can occur from the business interruption of process safety incidents.

Organisations do a fine job of analysing failures after an incident but Proscient allows us to think outside of the box and analyse barrier failures and take action before an incident occurs.

Read the full magazine here.

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Interview with Petrotechnics: Well-worn paths to innovation Wed, 17 Jun 2015 10:09:32 +0000

Petrotechnics is interviewed by the Press & Journal on the path to innovation:

“Scotland’s economy can only benefit from firms constantly innovating and expanding their horizons to take advantage of emerging opportunities. Phil Murray, chief executive at Aberdeen-headquartered Petrotechnics, tells Keith Findlay there are ‘well-trodden’ paths to follow.

We even invented the blackboard for goodness sake, so I reckoned it should not be too hard to find signs of innovative ideas being chalked up around modern-day Scotland.

Luckily I did not have to go too far to find an example of inspired thinking propelling one of our companies to success on the international stage.

It helped that I was in Aberdeen, from where innovative oil and gas technology has found its way to every big energy centre around the world.

If there is any lack of good ideas flowing from firms up and down the country, the owners would do well to spend a little time with the boss of oil and gas technology company Petrotechnics.”

Read the full interview:





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Petrotechnics Speaks to Oil & Gas Middle East About Growth in Region Tue, 26 May 2015 13:50:39 +0000


Petrotechnics New Regional Middle East Manager, Stuart Douglas speaks to Oil & Gas Middle East about his new position and Petrotechnics growth.

When Petrotechnics appointed two new members to its Middle East team, the company had one thing in mind – to grow the business in the region

Expanding Petrotechnics’ footprint in the region appears to be an ambition that Stuart Douglas, the company’s new regional sales manager, takes to heart. He said: “My personal strategy for the business is that we gain market awareness of Petrotechnics. The long-term is to then move that awareness into securing business.”

Having spent his entire career in business development, ten of which in oil and gas, Douglas certainly has a lot to offer. He has worked with oil and gas companies from all corners of the world, including this region, where he focused on supplying risk and reliability software.

“I have a lot of experience with the national oil companies and government organisations. That is why my experience fits with Petrotechnics platform to grow the business here moving forward over the coming years,” he said.

While many fear their business will be jeopardised by the lower oil price, Douglas says the volatility on the market is doing just the opposite – it is creating opportunities for those ready to seize them.

“We’ve got a low oil price environment at the moment. We find that in a low oil price environment companies are looking for ways to maximise their profit and make sure their operations are more streamlined. That in effect helped Petrotechnics because we are looking to help organisations streamline their processes and make their operations more efficient.”

Douglas arrived in the region three years ago and he now lives in Dubai with his wife and eight-year old son. But living in the U.A.E was not new to him at all.

“It’s kind of home from home. I spent all my primary years here in Abu Dhabi and then Muscat in Oman so I am very familiar with the culture and the business in the Middle East. My father worked for an oil and gas organisation in Abu Dhabi, a government owned oil operating company back in the 80s. I stayed here in Abu Dhabi with my family for a good number of years. Then we moved to Muscat in Oman where my father took up a position for another oil operating company in Oman. Although not exactly working on rigs, Douglas did follow in his father’s footsteps. With oil and gas being the industry he wanted to enter for a long time, he appears to have found his place with Petrotechnics.

To see the full article, head over to page 81 of Oil & Gas Middle East

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Network Rail Selects Petrotechnics to Improve Safety and Operational Performance Thu, 23 Apr 2015 06:00:45 +0000

Network Rail Selects Petrotechnics’ Proscient to Improve the Safety – Productivity Dynamic with Risk Based Activity Management

Aberdeen, Scotland April 23rd – Petrotechnics, the leading provider of Proscient, the enterprise operations excellence management solutions for hazardous industries, announces a national contract with Network Rail. Working in partnership with Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC), Petrotechnics will increase safety and improve productivity across 20,000 miles of Network Rail track by reducing the risk of delays, engineering overruns and spiralling maintenance costs.

Petrotechnics’ solution will form a key component of Network Rail’s ‘Planning and Delivering Safe Work’ programme, which is implementing a number of safety changes across the company’s infrastructure. Proscient will standardise actions around essential maintenance and repairs to reduce track time and mitigate the risk of injury and fatalities to staff.

“At Network Rail, safety is at the heart of what we do. Our vision that everyone goes home safe at the end of every day is something we must achieve. The plan and deliver safe work programme is one of the key strategic programmes that will help us to deliver this vision by improving decision making, conversations and behaviours for safer, more effective working,” said Mark Carne, Chief Executive, Network Rail.

“Proscient is essential to this programme as we believe that this deployment will allow us to reduce current levels of complexity and focus on considering and controlling operational risk more effectively. With tremendous expertise and capabilities, Petrotechnics was the best choice both for the technology solution and as a strategic partner.”

By choosing Proscient, Network Rail will benefit from Petrotechnics’ 25 year history of delivering operational risk management and control of work solutions t o the oil and gas industry. The fundamental dynamic of improving safety at the same time as increasing productivity can be replicated across all hazardous industries and this new relationship will allow Petrotechnics to share its extensive knowledge with the rail industry.

“Petrotechnics is proud to be working with Network Rail to get more work done with less time and resources while reducing risk to its people and assets,” said Iain Mackay, Executive Vice President, Petrotechnics. “No matter which hazardous industry we look to, resources and time is becoming increasingly constrained and this must all be managed in the context of optimising work and reducing risk.”

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