Petrotechnics Speaks to InnovOil About Production Efficiency Trends in the UKCS


Petrotechnics’ Director of Product Marketing, Ken Ume, speaks to InnovOil about the UKCS production efficiency trends following the company’s participation in last month’s Production Efficiency 2014, hosted by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers:

What technology advancements have had the greatest impact on production efficiency in recent years?

It is not any one particular product but it has been the introduction of digitisation of many of the business processes. The industry has made strides in better managing its silos (planning, maintenance, etc) and all have benefitted from digitisation. This increased technology has added its own levels of complexity; what average staff/workers need to do to get to the end result now involves complex technology and there is an issues around how to connect various disparate systems together. Whilst technology has been a boon it has led to new tensions running throughout operational activity management business processes.

How can best practices and knowledge be better shared amongst the industry?

The industry has been competitive for the longest time – by necessity – so it has been difficult to share best practice without potentially giving away a competitive advantage. This has to change, in particular in regards to best practice concerning safer operations. The journey to better cooperation between organisations has to start by establishing common languages that remove inconsistency, inequality and misunderstanding from operational data. There is a need for executives and technical authorities alike to share such a common language and participate in independent industry bodies to openly share information that everyone can understand in the same context.

Where does further research/investment need to be directed?

Investment still needs to be made into further technology but we have to look at technology from a different point of view. We can’t keep doing the same things that we’ve done in the past and so we need to invest in the technologies that rely upon modern techniques and that connect our business requirements to our business outcomes in a joined up way.

How can the industry work towards better life extension and asset management?

As our assets continue aging and the demands we place on them continue increasing, maintenance, planning and execution become increasingly crucial yet, as we know, maintenance backlogs are growing. We must find a way to better balance the planning and execution of maintenance with our production targets. The planning business process needs to become more connected to the day to day operations so that maintenance moves away from a plan, execute, repeat routine and we define our maintenance and work priorities according to risk and criticality. In this way, we can increase production efficiency, improve maintenance effectiveness and reduce the maintenance backlog.

How can effective policy work to combat declining trends in the UKCS?

Historically national policy has focussed understandably on improving personal safety (preventing slips, trips and falls) which has led to an inadvertent reduction in focus on process safety. It has also served to drive a tension between safety and production which manifests itself in levels of inefficiency in production This has also led to a proliferation of metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) produced by different business functions designed to demonstrate compliance at a business function level. The increasing complexity of the modern UKCS environment has diminished the value of these KPIs and metrics as performance guides as well as safety indicators. Revised state national policy should evolve regulations to increase the focus of process safety as well as personal safety and require organisations to develop performance based indicators. Such indicators should then be encouraged for use to properly manage safety (personal and process) as well as the performance of people and assets (production). In this way, policy should be designed to encourage organisations to treat safety and production as complementary forces to help optimise overall production safety.

To read responses from the other contributors to the feature, head over to InnnovOil’s December issue here.

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