Over the last thirty years the oil price has dipped below $20 and soared above $150, in these choppy waters offshore investment has been sorely tested and although nobody can predict prices with any certainty, the average is trending downwards. To remain viable, the industry must continue to cut unit costs. Most of the easy hydrocarbons have been found and exploited and, despite the evolving energy mix, oil and gas is set to remain in demand. The oil and gas industry needs a significant transformation to future-proof its operations.
One solution is to develop fully unmanned assets. Wood is approaching this challenge from a number of perspectives, leveraging its experience to introduce standardised and modular designs, automate processes, and control assets remotely. In any direction, the final result is a completely unmanned facility.
Converting existing platforms to unmanned status is unlikely but new assets can be designed from the outset for unmanned operation.
Wood has a large portion of this capability already; our engineering is world-class, and we have designed satellite facilities and lightweight topsides. We have a very experienced automation and control team, we understand sensors and monitoring. We have the software to interpret the enormous volumes of data a facility generates, and we understand operations, maintenance and integrity.
In such a high-risk industry our solutions must carry a high level of assurance, we must be confident of performance and reliability.
To ensure this we draw on proven technologies, combining the best of our experience across many industries. We know it can be done because we have used all the components in other areas.
Industry knowledge, sector and asset experience are still vital ingredients here, but by automating an asset we can effectively take people out of harm’s way. The maintenance crews of the future are ‘grey collar’ workers, combining practical knowledge and technical capability to solve problems remotely.
With the right mix of design, robotics, monitoring and control systems nearly all operations can be automated and controlled from onshore.
Maintenance is more challenging, material and equipment selection has a bearing on how reliable and effective the facility will be, minimising but not removing the need for maintenance. A comprehensive monitoring and analysis programme can identify future failures and simple plug-and-play items can reduce turn-around times. With an optimised design, much of this may even be automated or delivered through remote operations.
With no human presence offshore, safety performance will be drastically improved and large areas of traditional asset design can be removed. Living quarters are unnecessary; utilities can be minimised and major elements of comms and safety systems are no longer needed. The various life-support systems need to sustain human presence can be all but eliminated.
Without a doubt, automating some processes and systems is an excellent way to reduce costs; we believe the platform of the future is modular, flexible, and fully automated. And with significantly reduced unit costs, there should be no barriers to future exploration.