An award-winning new service which harnesses data to predict downtime and the performance of oil and gas production systems has been touted as a positive example of innovation in the sector.

By applying predictive data analysis methods already deployed in alternative industries, including aviation, predictive technology specialists Operational Excellence (OPEX) Group has worked with companies in the oil and gas sector to reduce costly critical system failures.

The data-driven approach takes information from a range of sources to understand what a “perfect day’s operation” looks like.  This digital model can then be used to identify threats and emerging issues across an entire system in advance, enabling decisions and interventions to maximise production uptime.

A case study regarding OPEX’s predictive analysis service featured on the Efficiency Hub, the oil and gas industry’s showcase for initiatives that aim to improve efficiency across the UK Continental Shelf. The Hub is the run by Oil & Gas UK’s Efficiency Task Force (ETF). Explaining the value of the predictive data approach, ETF Chairman Phil Simons, who is VP North Sea & Canada for Subsea 7, said: “The UKCS is at the forefront of a digital transformation which is unlocking the power of data. The offshore oil and gas industry has a wealth of information at its disposal. Harnessing new methods and technologies to mine that information, and openly sharing the results, is good news for everyone in the sector. This is a perfect example of innovation in industry which promotes smarter and more effective ways of working.”

The case study saw the OPEX’s predictive analysis being applied to infrastructure on Nexen’s Buzzard platform, looking for warning signs and trying to identify emerging problems before they happened. Over the course of the trial the analysis protected $20 million of production revenues, by reducing critical systems failures and downtime, and identifying performance improvement opportunities.

OPEX VP of Operations, Chris Ayres, said: “Oil and gas operators have a significant opportunity to secure additional production revenue by unlocking the immense value in their operational data. By bridging the gap between data science and oil and gas operations, our Predictive Analysis Service, known as X-PAS™, opens up a whole new approach to operating and maintaining critical systems.”

Industry-wide use of a big data approach has the potential to boost productivity and efficiency by significant amounts, as Ayres observes: “Each of our customers is different, but our experience has shown a typical 2-5% improvement in production and a 50% reduction in critical system outages.  With the right level of adoption, services like X-PAS™ and other digital solutions could have a substantial impact on the basin as a whole.”

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