On January 24, 2018, a unique seminar took place on board the SS Rotterdam berthed in the port of Rotterdam. For the third time, DNV GL – Oil & Gas the Netherlands organized an ‘Upstream Knowledge Exchange’ seminar. This year the seminar was organized in collaboration with Bluestream from Den Helder. The theme was inspection, verification and digitization. The initiative of both subcontractors was amply rewarded by the 15 operators who have a concession for the exploration and production of natural gas on shore and offshore in the Dutch Continental Shelf. About 50 participants signed up. Including representatives from EBN and SodM (State Supervision of Mines). It resulted in a valuable meeting with a remarkable number of operators willing to invest in accepting and implementing the phenomenon of digitization.
Organizers of the seminar were Rob Beks, Business Developer Upstream NL of DNV GL – Oil & Gas and Anton Janssens, Commercial Manager at Bluestream. Beks: “The goal of both DNV and Bluestream was to give the participants a ‘growth mindset’. To give them more insight and to think in which direction it will possibly go in the near future to digitize subsea inspection activities and the verification thereof. We have conducted preliminary research for the operators from our drive to think along with them about the future. The onshore ‘life’ attending of an offshore inspection is no longer a technological utopia, but an existing reality. Advancing technologies are already on the market. They only have to be translated into business opportunities. DNV GL has the right people for that purpose, but it is first necessary to generate affinity with operators for digital transformation. And to point out to them what trends, such as Virtual and Augmented Reality, could mean for the sector in the future. In connection with the many advantages, we have therefore given all participants the opportunity to speak face-to-face with a number of national and international specialists in the field of digitization. What we aim for is that by means of a joint industry project a method will be developed that can be applied by all gas producers in the Netherlands. We do not offer ready-made solutions, but explain to operators how they could implement the digitizing technology within their company.”
The continuous sharing of knowledge, especially experiential knowledge, is an important ingredient in case of digital innovation. Only then the most efficient business process can be realized. Anton Janssens says: “By thinking ‘out of the box’, DNV GL and Bluestream came to the decision to facilitate this new form of knowledge exchange. Times have changed. Not only for contractors, but the low oil price has certainly also provided a recalibration for operators. As an industry, all members of the Netherlands Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Association (NOGEPA) are and remain a key player in the energy transition that is currently going on, but at the same time there is also the realization that this role is not infinite. In 2050, natural gas will be largely gone. In order to survive, smart ways will have to be developed and applied in the intervening period to minimize costs. Digitization of inspection can play an important role in this matter. Not only does it save both time and money, it also ensures improvements in effectiveness. As contractors we must also anticipate this new situation. We have to take control of our own future.
For the time being there is still a large number of wells on the Dutch Continental Shelf that produces and must therefore be inspected on critical points. As a service provider you will not just throw all knowledge and equipment overboard knowing that in 2050 there is no more natural gas. By making such a choice, a company puts its credibility on the line. Especially in our field, innovative progress is accelerating. Bluestream is now fully committed to ROVs, but it is not entirely inconceivable that even those at some point will be replaced by remote techniques. In any case, Bluestream keeps a close eye on all developments in the field of digitization and remote witnessing.”
In the business strategy of Bluestream, the conscious use of innovation plays a prominent role. That is why the company has made some huge digitization steps forward in recent years. With the aim to make the final reports of an inspection faster and of a higher quality. Bluestream has gigabytes of data from different operators. But because these operators usually operate in accordance with their own IRM program, they have little further advancing insight into this. Innovation is also a priority within DNV GL. Beks: “By sharing and comparing all that data we can retrieve a lot of valuable data through all kinds of formulas. Clear analyses can be made and correct conclusions can be written. The next step is that we are even able to get predictive behaviour from a report. Thanks to the cooperation between Bluestream and DNV-GL, we are strong together and as partners we can provide our mutual customers with much more targeted advice.”
According to the European Safety Directive, published in June 2013, SodM must approve all inspection results that Bluestream submits to operators. However, before SodM can give that approval, the report must first have been verified by an independent institute. In the Netherlands, DNV GL is the only company so far that has shown to be very professional in this field and has demonstrated its openness to the application of digitization during inspection work. Beks: “As an independent institute, we test the data that Bluestream has collected for the operator ‘lean and mean’. Bluestream describes very carefully what she sees and we thoroughly analyse all safety critical elements. What can be improved and how can we make it better and safer for each other by applying digitization or remote witnessing? In the context of cost cutting it would be great if we do not have to send a complete team offshore anymore, but let them simultaneously follow the inspection carried out by a ROV from Bluestream from behind a desk onshore. If this seminar has clearly proved one thing, it is that the acceptance rate for deploying digitization is remarkably high with all operators, EBN and SodM. The willingness to provide mutual transparency and the willingness to share data and experience is also fully present and offers challenging future prospects for all those involved. DNV GL and Bluestream are ready for it!”