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Technology adoption will improve forecasts, mitigate risks in oil industry- Seplat

As Nigeria continues to explore all options to improve her earnings from the hydrocarbon resources industry, the Executive Operations Director, Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc, Mr. Effiong Okon, has identified the adoption of critical contemporary technologies as crucial to effective planning and forecast and mitigating the risks in the industry.

Okon gave this hint while delivering a paper titled ‘Transforming Big Data and Technology to Business Value: Challenges and Strategic Options’ during a panel session of the 43rd Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Nigeria Annual International Conference and Exhibition held in Lagos.

Specifically, the industry top shot listed Artificial Intelligence (AI), big data and cloud computing technologies as required to improve the planning, forecast as well as reduce the risks usually associated with investing in the capital-intensive sector.

At the forum, which had ‘Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and Mobile Technology: Changing the Future of the Energy Industry’ as its theme, Okon said leveraging cloud computing and big data, for instance, would promote accurate forecast of oil production for planning, which in turn drives operational excellence in terms of production optimisation and asset performance.

Similarly, he explained that the use of predictive and data-driven maintenance for production and cost efficiency, had helped to reduce Mean Time To Repair (MTTR), and increase Mean Time Before Failure (MTBF) in the industry.

According to him, for drilling, operators can get predictive analysis through smart drilling; guarantee early identification of drilling anomalies, hazards to well control problems; develop more Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) techniques; and real time data through Logging While Drilling (LWD) and Measurement While Drilling (MWD).

Okon explained further that in the area of exploration and appraisal, technology had made it possible to obtain big data from sensors attached to equipment used during exploration/appraisal activities (seismic, wells), which will further help in improving subsurface mapping and new well delivery performance through micro-seismic 3D imaging.

Reflecting on the Seplat technology story, the industry expert pointed out that the company had continued to make conscious efforts to drive operations using contemporary technologies, with the right investments.

He added that the company’s investments in technologies were being driven by measurable and justifiable value accruable to the company.

The EOD clarified: “With the right technology, we can identify rock and fluid properties through Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI); locate new oil fields through Wide azimuth towed streamer (WATS) Acquisition; and analyse big data through Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) for cost efficiency.

“It also applies to oil/gas transportation while connecting pipelines, sensors, leak detection, alarms and emergency shutdowns; using drone technology for pipeline surveillance.

“Internet of Things (IoT) is revolutionising midstream pipeline operations through Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) -based applications”, Okon added.

On refining operations, the company’s EOD noted that operators could now analyse economic indicators and weather patterns for forecasting demand, pricing and resource allocation while optimising integrated refineries and leveraging machine learning for predictive analysis and self-diagnosis by refineries.

He said:  “These technologies have a huge role to play in the future of the oil and gas industry. The need for smart, cost efficient ways to access unconventional reservoirs is undoubted. It requires the combination of technology and thinking that redefines how firms manage and execute a more harmonised approach to early well life. As drilling projects grow in ambition, smarter equals faster.

“Blockchain revolution is starting here and now. There is huge potential to reduce risk of fraud, error and invalid transactions in energy trading and enable interoperability to revolutionise joint ventures (JVs), risk management, contracting and regulatory compliance. This is critical to unlocking the efficiency potential of distributed energy generation”, Okon added.

He noted further that technology would become a facilitator in the transformation of oil and gas companies, adding, however, that this demands that companies make confident, data driven decisions using relevant, accurate and trusted information platforms.

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