Nexen – the operator of one of the biggest oil platforms in the North Sea – has been able to save £6.5 million in operating costs after collaborating in an efficiency improvement project with PlanSea Ltd – a spin out from Aberdeen’s Robert Gordon University.
And the initiative could be rolled out across the offshore oil and gas industry to achieve wider efficiency savings.
Working with PlanSea, Nexen was able to simulate 65 weeks of full North Sea marine operations using different schedules and combinations of its platform supply vessel (PSV) fleet. The results showed that significant reductions in fleet size and improvements in vessel utilisation could be achieved by re-organising its operations.
Ray Riddoch, Managing Director, Nexen UK and SVP Europe, is delighted with the outcome. He said: “In order to live at a low oil price, operators need to make a step change in eliminating waste in the supply chain and this requires a step change in thinking about new modes of operation.
“Through working with PlanSea, we have been able to enhance vessel utilisation and so reduce our North Sea PSV fleet from four vessels to two – resulting in a 2016 saving of some £6.5 million’.
Jim Cargill, Managing Director, PlanSea, is optimistic about the potential for the newly proven technology. He said: “The ability to accurately identify feasible ways in which reduced fleets can operate and validate that in realistic simulation is a game-changer.
“There is a tremendous opportunity for the industry to collaborate with shared PSV fleets – potentially taking 40% to 50% out of resource-costs.
“In the North Sea, that could mean continued viability for assets that are struggling to break even in the current environment. Looking forward to a recovery in price, the value of savings made now will increase – as activity rises the cost base will rise at a slower rate as efficient fleet sizing is maintained.”
Margaret Copland, Senior Wells & Technology Manager at the Oil & Gas Authority, commented: “As operators and the supply chain companies work hard to reduce costs there is a recognition that harnessing new technology to help collaboration and reduce costs is essential to allow the industry to prosper.
“Technologies such as digital have the potential to transform the industry and this example of utilising algorithms and machine learning to optimise vessel utilisation is part of that journey.
“The progress that Nexen and PlanSea have made in utilising software technology to make significant savings in offshore supply costs is therefore very encouraging.”
Stephen Marcos Jones, Business Excellence Director, Oil & Gas UK, added: “We are delighted to see this collaboration by PlanSea and Nexen achieving these great results.
“Their work together shows how taking an innovative approach and harnessing technology can drive efficiency improvements and is another small step in the transformational change required by industry to ensure the sustainability of the UK Continental Shelf.”