Free the Porcupine

Sarah Gillet, the British Ambassador to Norway, recently spoke at an event in Aberdeen about opportunities in the Norwegian Sea. She gave an insight into the current environment, noting:

 

  • Production costs are down,
  • Oil price is more stable,
  • Global energy demand is increasing,
  • Plentiful reserves left on the Norwegian shelf,
  • 80 fields are currently producing – (most in North Sea, 16 in Norwegian Sea, and 2 in Barents Sea),
  • 7 new field developments are underway (worth approximately 23 billion pounds),
  • There are 5 new plans for Operation and Development.

 

While the above is always good to hear, what I found most interesting about Sarah’s talk, was her reference to the Darwinian Theory; stating “it’s not the strongest that survive, but those most susceptible to change”.

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Incremental Improvement

I recently attended an Oil & Gas UK Business Outlook Breakfast Briefing, where the phrase of the day was ‘cautiously optimistic’.

We’ve seen in the news that North Sea operators are reviving, the biggest story being the recent Hurricane Energy discovery near Shetland. The briefing figures showed that unit costs are down and profits/projects are on the rise. People seem to be getting better at doing more with less.

Indeed, the atmosphere at the breakfast was far more convivial than the last I attended back in December 2015.

All very positive, however, we still have a long way to go. So, how do we go forward from here?

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Transforming software for oil and gas

In my last post, I discussed the origins of our company, what motivated us, and the problems we were trying to address. I discussed our primary driver as the belief that it had to be possible “to do it better.” As the company evolved, nowhere was this need for improvement more evident than in oil and gas software, but the path wasn’t easy.

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A Different Way

We run a cloud service for oil and gas. Our goal is to grow organically, and to grow profitability not staff numbers. We value a high degree of autonomy, and we operate entirely virtually. We’ve been extensively using cloud services to run our business for over ten years, and now virtually everything we do, from mail and calendar to accounting and document management, is done in the cloud.

However, we didn’t start out that way.

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Collaborative Learning in Distributed Environments

I have been reading about other uses of cloud based and mobile technologies and I came across some examples of adaptive learning, which I thought were really interesting. Initially I heard about them from the beloved Radio 4. The two examples I wanted to discuss both come from education and rely on mass adoption by a large remote and distributed community. I suppose you could say they are business to consumer, although that label feels odd for education.

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Stop the projects, I want to get off

People often ask me how our cloud service for production data management, production reporting and production allocation is different from traditional solutions. This is a hard question to answer, as I want to describe the distinct values of my product and company without seeming to denigrate the competition.

In addition, it’s really hard to provide quantitative information. We think an EnergySys solution is hands-down the fastest, most cost-effective and most configurable choice for customers, but this is largely based on anecdotal evidence. It’s rare for two companies to have delivered systems for the same assets under the same conditions, though we do have a fair amount of experience of replacing competitor systems, so an exact comparison is difficult.

However, during the course of a discussion with a company looking to replace a competitor system I realised that part of the answer lay in the conversation we were having. This user kept talking about projects. Projects to implement new assets. Projects to add new fields or wells. Projects to upgrade the basic software. Everything was a project. And projects required substantial time, money and resources, even just to get a basic upgrade of the software done. In fact, for this user an upgrade cost almost as much as the original project implementation! EnergySys isn’t like that. 

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Constant Service Improvement

As many of you know, we have recently refreshed large parts of our production service infrastructure. Parts of the existing hardware, while still running well, had reached three years of age, which represents the point where we deem the ROI on renewal to be about right. In a cloud based service the ROI is made immediately more attractive because the cost is shared between all the consumers of the service.

Also, there have also been a lot of advances in three years for hardware.

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