Optimisation for oil and gas asset managementMarch 7, 2023
Riyadh Moosa, CEO of iNNOVATEQ, talks to The Energy Year about how the company uses technology to identify efficiency gaps in oil and gas asset management, its experience working with PDO and Shell, and how its Nibras platform improves efficiency. iNNOVATEQ provides digital transformation solutions to the oil and gas sector.
What aspects of iNNOVATEQ’s approach make it stand out within the oil and gas sector?
Our field of operation is digital transformation, but our focus is digital business transformation. Unlike most of the players within the energy industry, our uniqueness relies on the fact that our approach is not technology driven, but business driven. We use technology to identify optimisation opportunities and efficiency gaps in oil and gas asset management and deploy our innovative solutions to fill them.
In order to transform a business via digital means, we need the combination of three elements: technology, represented in our case by a platform which enables us to connect all the data from any source; interconnected solutions, to allow us to combine insights from multiple sources to identify optimisations and gaps in an agile way; and lastly, the capability to arrange the results according to the business’ needs and communicate them to the right person in the organisation in the right way at the right time.
Considering the way businesses run and people work, we aim to make their modus operandi easier, simpler and more efficient. Our final aim is to be value-oriented, being aligned with the business drivers and positioning our partners in the best condition to exploit the full potential of their petroleum assets.
Can you walk us through iNNOVATEQ’s major achievements since its foundation?
iNNOVATEQ was established in 2017 and became operational in January 2019. We have positioned ourselves as a leading digital transformation solutions provider, with the aim of transforming the way petroleum asset management is conducted, making it more data driven, automated and streamlined.
iNNOVATEQ arose as a spinoff from PDO, with the aim to commercialise the in-house Nibras platform which underpinned their hugely valuable and sustainable digital business transformation. Our first task in iNNOVATEQ was to build a commercial version of Nibras that captures the 200 man-years of experience developed from the decade-long journey in PDO, and make it available to the rest of the industry as a state-of-the-art commercial offering. The resulting Nibras NX platform has been our first big achievement.
Nibras is a digital integrated asset management system and within oil and gas it can deal with reservoirs, wells and surface facilities. Currently, it can be used to manage 12 different well types (such as ESP, gas-lift, PCPs, beam-pumped, water and steam injectors, cyclic steam wells, etc.) and 16 different types of surface equipment (such as pumps, pipelines, compressors, tanks, separators, heat exchangers, etc.).
A second achievement came in 2019, when, together with PDO, we won the ADIPEC award for Best Digital Transformation Project of the Year. Finally, again in 2019, we secured our first contract with one of the largest operating companies in Kazakhstan, which was a pilot project and marked the beginning of our commercial engagements.
Can you give us an overview of the company’s current projects and clients?
PDO continues to be our biggest client, but our list of clients is growing rapidly. 2021 was a big year for us as we signed two important deals: one with Brunei Shell Petroleum [BSP] under which we are replicating in one of their assets what we did in PDO. The results so far are very encouraging, to the extent that we are already expanding our scope to a second asset. We are expecting our engagement in BSP to grow significantly in the coming years: deploying many more Nibras Apps, company-wide; effectively becoming BSP’s trusted digital transformation partner.
Another contract we signed in 2021 was with Shell International, for which we are upgrading Production Universe (PU), a data modelling solution that has been under continuous development and improvement within Shell for 15 years; and which is used for assessing and monitoring well performance to then optimise them in connection with the surface facilities and reservoirs they produce from. It has been a technology that has generated a lot of value from Shell’s assets, but was also seen as a cost centre.
Now it has been redeveloped as part of the iNNOVATEQ’s offering, becoming one of the apps within the Nibras Apps store. Following this agreement, Nibras-PU will be deployed in more than 10 Shell assets across six countries starting in 2023, as well as outside the Shell group.
One of the biggest values of this synergy will be linking PU’s output to the rest of the Nibras platform and apps, providing our customers more comprehensive and higher-quality insights and optimisation opportunities from their fields and platforms, as well as, a simple ticketing system (Nibras requests) to close the actions loop and realise the full value from these insights and opportunities
One further thing worth mentioning is that we are building Nibras NX in such a way that it provides an advantage not only to us but also to our clients and other players in this area that want to partner with us and our clients. While our platform connects all client data and systems, the Nibras Builder Tools enable us to build agile and quality solutions faster and provide our clients and other players the opportunity to develop their own solutions utilising their own experience and thus increasing the value for all involved.
How does the Nibras platform work?
To explain it, I’ll use an example from biology: the most expensive resource in the human body is the brain. Although it is only 2% of our weight, it consumes about 20% of our energy. The best data-driven asset management system is the human nervous and neural system. We have billions of neurons within our brain, all interconnected and communicating thanks to the nervous system. When there is something malfunctioning, pain gets generated, which – thanks to these two systems – we are able to assess because it is through pain that we understand what we need to pay attention to.
Nibras aims to replicate these mechanisms as a platform connecting data which triggers attention (pain) to what is not working, in the right way, to the right person at the right time.
What would you say are iNNOVATEQ’s competitive advantages?
The iNNOVATEQ team comes from an operational background and our experience working in and with PDO allowed us to identify the asset management gaps that slow down analysis and decision-making and thus raises cost. We have first-hand experience of this pain.
As a result, we realised that if there is a technology that already does what needs to be done, we do not replace it, but instead we simply connect it to the platform, so clients can have a homogeneous and clearer picture of their asset’s performance from the data. We realised that not all the data are equal in value: having access to the key, right ones and in a transparent way makes decision making faster, more reliable and outcome oriented. In short, we make sure to turn your data into value.
Can you provide us with examples of the benefits that using Nibras can bring to oil and gas operators?
In 2012, when we implemented Nibras for PDO before the establishment of iNNOVATEQ, PDO wanted to increase its asset portfolio, growing its well count from 3,500 to 9,000 in a 10-year timeframe. If they had stuck to the same approach used before, it would have been unfeasible both in terms of the number of engineers required to manage them, and of costs needed to perform a quality assessment of all of them. So, efficiency was the keyword. Through Nibras, PDO was able to increase the well count by 67% while the number of engineers grew by only 33%, meaning that an engineer who before managed 50 wells was then able to oversee 100-150.
Moreover, we improved our data quality by 20% on a year-on-year basis for the first five years of Nibras’ implementation with PDO. By simply focusing on improving the quality of the few parameters that we use to make decisions (and not all available parameters) we were able to see quit wells (which had stopped production) that we were blind to before, generating – just in the first year – USD 20 million in value.
Another advantage relates to energy consumption: in 2019, we implemented for PDO one of the modules of Nibras called EEST (Energy Efficiency Surveillance Tool), which was able to identify “bad actor” equipment from an energy consumption point of view, and by prioritising action on this equipment PDO saved 64 MW of energy and around 2.8% of its CO2 emissions, which has grown to 90 MW of energy and just above 3% of its CO2 emissions in 2022.
When it comes to production, since we implemented it, PDO assets have generated 5% extra production, or over USD 300 million in additional annual oil revenues.
Finally, it also increased the value of the engineers’ time, saving 40% – equivalent to two days per week – as well as workers’ safety since trusted data leads to less trips to the field to verify information, which results in at least a 10% reduction in HSE exposure due to road journeys.
What main challenges are preventing digital transformation businesses from expanding further in the oil and gas sector?
Unlike other industries, inefficiencies within the oil and gas industry are tolerated because the profit margins are very high. If you look at the efforts in place today to undertake digital transformation, 70-80% of the attempts either fail or deliver very little value. They fail because they are technology driven, while the problem is not related to technology, but rather to user and organisational adoption. However, technology developers are too focused on making and delivering the “latest and greatest” tools.
Thus, the users may be disappointed because they are providing them with tools that they cannot handle, preventing new technology from doing what it is supposed to do: bring added value from your data to your people and organisation. To use the analogy of the pain mentioned earlier: instead of triggering the pain to understand where to focus, many oilfield solutions providers insist on pushing the latest technology – similar to prescribing an MRI without considering that the users don’t know how to interpret it. It goes without saying that an MRI is beneficial, but first you need to effectively handle the pain.
What has been Nibras’ evolution in terms of versions and users?
Nibras 1.0 was deployed in 2010, but after two years of implementation we realised that very few were using the system. When we went to the engineers asking why, their answer was that the system was not useful as it was adding additional work for them. It was triggering too many different alarms and they could not handle them all. Back then, we had 65 users. We started working on Nibras 2.0, simplifying our solutions through implementing the LEAN methodology, and it was released in 2013. In a short time, our users jumped to 350, which told us we were on the right track.
Then, as we grew in terms of application from a few well types to all well types and scaled up to reservoir and facilities management, in 2015-2016 we reached 1,800 users involved in managing 10,000 operated wells throughout PDO’s 120 fields.
In 2016, we introduced the mobile version of Nibras, which was used to conduct standard operator work for integrity assurance rounds on PDO’s production stations, and which brought the user number to 2,800.
Today, we have over 4,000 distinct users of our Nibras-NX platform and apps, which we are deploying to all of our clients across the world.
What are Nibras’ main applications beyond oil and gas?
With Nibras-NX we have built a skeleton and sort of DNA units, meaning that its applications are much wider, to the extent that it can work with cross-sectoral purposes, from logistics to banking.
However, for such a deployment, we need to partner with companies that can provide us with the specific sector’s domain know-how: the background knowledge that would enable us to adjust our model, make it operational with tailor-made solutions. Then we can commercialise these offerings. By doing this, we could have royalty splits in terms of any apps, as we are doing now with Shell and just like, for instance, IOS and Android do for Apple and Google Apps.
At the moment, the focus is oil and gas upstream, but we are very open to expanding beyond that and we are exploring opportunities in this regard.
What is your aim for the future of the company?
Our objective is to turn our platform into an industry standard and we are optimistic about succeeding for two main reasons: we approach business from a different perspective and because Nibras is an inclusive product which does not replace, but integrates. Its potential applications are countless.
Read our latest insights on:
Trends in Oman’s seismic services demandINTERVIEW
More content from Oman
Trinidad’s energy opportunitiesINTERVIEW
Latest news and features
Nigeria as a major maritime hubINTERVIEW
Steps to improve the maritime sectorINTERVIEW