Hui Shan

Job Steward at NrgEdge. If you are an Energy Professional (Oil, Gas, Energy) contact me for opportunities
Last Updated: October 20, 2018
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Career Development
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Global oil and gas sector is operating in an environment of unparalleled opportunity coupled with dynamism and volatility. In today’s world companies are looking for ways to create a sustainable cost-efficient model of operation. This model should be targeted to meet the challenges of the oil and gas industry, which includes margin pressure, cost competition, supply-chain issues, manpower shortage, global competition, technological advancements, and asset reliability. The good news here is, there is a solution within our reach that has immense untapped potential. Let us understand how Information technology can be leveraged in the oil and gas industry for greater benefit and sustainability.

What Is trending in Information Technology?

There are numerous technological advancements that are governing the oil and gas industry and are referred to as the drivers of the sector, these include:

Big data management - The use of automation and information technology resulting in the creation of volumes of data. This is then categorized and analyzed to create insightful information that helps in better decision-making.

Cloud computing - Cloud computing enables the oil companies to store and access a large volume of data. It allows seamless data management and computing across the organization.

IoT and SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition) architecture - Industrial Internet of Things and SCADA help the operational process of oil and gas industry by merging it with information technology. The IT interface provides broad operational insights that help in optimizing the operational process. It can also enhance the cost efficiency and productivity.

Digital Oil-field- The sensors in pumps and well-heads create numerous data, both internally and externally. With the advent of information technology, this data is monitored and analyzed to create a digitally integrated oil value chain.

 However, it is important that the oil and gas sector should adopt new IT practices to make them future-ready. The focus should not be just on data analysis via sensors but rather it should start addressing the entire E&P value chain and foray into complete automation. Until now the data collected and analyzed has been used to detect anomalies but now the time is right to optimize the resources and predict the future course.

 How and where can IT be used in the oil and gas industry?

The important IT concepts like Big Data and analytics, IoT and SCADA can be used effectively in various areas of oil and gas industry, here are some of the applications:

Preventive maintenance of critical components

The real-time operational data derived from various critical components can help in setting a benchmark of quality parameters. The IT system will detect any deviation from the expected baseline and will alert the operational division to take prompt action. This system can be centralized such that the information available is real-time and accurate to plan preventive maintenance on time. This will help in reducing the maintenance cost and will avoid any hindrance in productivity.

 Drilling strategies

By analyzing the historical data and real-time data from the well site, the drilling managers can discover the best performing wells. The current site location and its characteristics will be matched to the existing well site information to diagnose the right location for drilling, the rate of penetration and the expected issues that the team might encounter. This will help in better planning and execution.

Reservoir limits.

With the integration of digital application, the oil companies have significantly increased the limit of the reservoir. Which resulted in a decrease in upstream and downstream capital expenditure along with additional ancillary benefits.  Some oil and gas companies are using 4-D seismic imaging to add a time-lapse dimension to traditional 3-D imaging which enables them to measure and forecast fluid changes in reservoirs. This enhanced view of reservoirs typically increases the recovery rate by boosting upstream revenue.

 Intuitive marketing and distribution

Retailers and marketers in other industries have successfully implemented digital technologies to understand consumer psychology for better positioning and marketing of their products and services. They also use this data to optimize pricing strategies, supply chain management, and product improvement. Oil companies have successfully replicated the result in the industry. With the help of geospatial analytics, the logistics department of the oil and gas company can efficiently manage the supply and distribution networks through location planning and route optimization.

 Informed decision making

The availability of a large amount of detailed real-time data categorized into various formats can help the management and stakeholders to understand the performance and problems with each segment. It enables them to make informed decisions to maximize productivity and performance.

 Recruitment and talent management 

Technology has completely transformed the talent acquisition, management, and retention process. The oil companies can use digital platforms like NrgEdge.com to advertise their job openings and reach out to potential candidates. They can conduct screening tests, background checks, telephonic or video interviews for hiring suitable candidates. Additionally, they can also manage and monitor the performance of the employees via dedicated platforms. Even the on-job training can be conducted to upskill the existing employees through audio/video interface and via augmented or virtual reality like simulators. Oil and gas companies require highly skilled professionals, Information technology allows them to fix the skill, talent and knowledge gap efficiently.

It’s time for the oil and gas companies to reinvent themselves by investing in digital technologies. With the right application of big data and analytics, the oil and gas industry can be immensely benefitted. It can help optimize performance, predict breakdowns, streamline maintenance work, and help in better and informed decision making. This will result in higher productivity, enhanced operational activity, reduction in downtime and wastage which means higher profitability and sustainability.

Stay updated with the latest industry news, jobs and networking using the nrgEDGE platform. You can upskill yourself by taking up e-learning courses on our platform to stay relevant in the Oil and Gas industry.

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Saudi Aramco Moves Into Russia’s Backyard

International expansions for Saudi Aramco – the largest oil company in the world – are not uncommon. But up to this point, those expansions have followed a certain logic: to create entrenched demand for Saudi crude in the world’s largest consuming markets. But Saudi champion’s latest expansion move defies, or perhaps, changes that logic, as Aramco returns to Europe. And not just any part of Europe, but Eastern Europe – an area of the world dominated by Russia – as Saudi Aramco acquires downstream assets from Poland’s PKN Orlen and signs quite a significant crude supply deal. How is this important? Let us examine.

First, the deal itself and its history. As part of the current Polish government’s plan to strengthen its national ‘crown jewels’ in line with its more nationalistic stance, state energy firm PKN Orlen announced plans to purchase its fellow Polish rival (and also state-owned) Grupa Lotos. The outright purchase fell afoul of EU anti-competition rules, which meant that PKN Orlen had to divest some Lotos assets in order to win approval of the deal. Some of the Lotos assets – including 417 fuel stations – are being sold to Hungary’s MOL, which will also sign a long-term fuel supply agreement with PKN Orlen for the newly-acquired sites, while PKN Orlen will gain fuel retail assets in Hungary and Slovakia as part of the deal. But, more interestingly, PKN Orlen has chosen to sell a 30% stake in the Lotos Gdansk refinery in Poland (with a crude processing capacity of 210,000 bd) to Saudi Aramco, alongside a stake in a fuel logistic subsidiary and jet fuel joint venture supply arrangement between Lotos and BP. In return, PKN Orlen will also sign a long-term contract to purchase between 200,000-337,000 b/d of crude from Aramco, which is an addition to the current contract for 100,000 b/d of Saudi crude that already exists. At a maximum, that figure will cover more than half of Poland’s crude oil requirements, but PKN Orlen has also said that it plans to direct some of that new supply to several of its other refineries elsewhere in Lithuania and the Czech Republic.

For Saudi Aramco, this is very interesting. While Aramco has always been a presence in Europe as a major crude supplier, its expansion plans over the past decade have been focused elsewhere. In the US, where it acquired full ownership of the Motiva joint venture from Shell in 2017. In doing so, it acquired control of Port Arthur, the largest refinery in North America, and has been on a petrochemicals-focused expansion since. In Asia, where Aramco has been busy creating significant nodes for its crude – in China, in India and in Malaysia (to serve the Southeast Asia and facilitate trade). And at home, where the focus has on expanding refining and petrochemical capacity, and strengthen its natural gas position. So this expansion in Europe – a mature market with a low ceiling for growth, even in Eastern Europe, is interesting. Why Poland, and not East or southern Africa? The answer seems fairly obvious: Russia.

The current era of relatively peaceful cooperation between Saudi Arabia and Russia in the oil sphere is recent. Very recent. It was not too long ago that Saudi Arabia and Russia were locked in a crude price war, which had devastating consequences, and ultimately led to the détente through OPEC+ that presaged an unprecedented supply control deal. That was through necessity, as the world faced the far ranging impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. But remove that lens of cooperation, and Saudi Arabia and Russia are actual rivals. With the current supply easing strategy through OPEC+ gradually coming to an end, this could remove the need for the that club (by say 2H 2022). And with Russia not being part of OPEC itself – where Saudi Arabia is the kingpin – cooperation is no longer necessary once the world returns to normality.

So the Polish deal is canny. In a statement, Aramco stated that ‘the investments will widen (our) presence in the European downstream sector and further expand (our) crude imports into Poland, which aligns with PKN Orlen’s strategy of diversifying its energy supplies’. Which hints at the other geopolitical aspect in play. Europe’s major reliance on Russia for its crude and natural gas has been a minefield – see the recent price chaos in the European natural gas markets – and countries that were formally under the Soviet sphere of influence have been trying to wean themselves off reliance from a politically unpredictable neighbour. Poland’s current disillusion with EU membership (at least from the ruling party) are well-documented, but its entanglement with Russia is existential. The Cold War is not more than 30 years gone.

For Saudi Aramco, the move aligns with its desire to optimise export sales from its Red Sea-facing terminals Yanbu, Jeddah, Shuqaiq and Rabigh, which have closer access to Europe through the Suez Canal. It is for the same reason that Aramco’s trading subsidiary ATC recently signed a deal with German refiner/trader Klesch Group for a 3-year supply of 110,000 b/d crude. It would seem that Saudi Arabia is anticipating an eventual end to the OPEC+ era of cooperative and a return to rivalry. And in a rivalry, that means having to make power moves. The PKN Orlen deal is a power move, since it brings Aramco squarely in Russia’s backyard, directly displacing Russian market share. Not just in Poland, but in other markets as well. And with a geopolitical situation that is fragile – see the recent tensions about Russian military build-up at the Ukrainian borders – that plays into Aramco’s hands. European sales make up only a fraction of the daily flotilla of Saudi crude to enters international markets, but even though European consumption is in structural decline, there are still volumes required.

How will Russia react? Politically, it is on the backfoot, but its entrenched positions in Europe allows it to hold plenty of sway. European reservations about the Putin administration and climate change goals do not detract from commercial reality that Europe needs energy now. The debate of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is proof of that. Russian crude freed up from being directed to Eastern Europe means a surplus to sell elsewhere. Which means that Russia will be looking at deals with other countries and refiners, possibly in markets with Aramco is dominant. That level of tension won’t be seen for a while – these deals takes months and years to complete – but we can certainly expect that agitation to be reflected in upcoming OPEC+ discussions. The club recently endorsed another expected 400,000 b/d of supply easing for January. Reading the tea leaves – of which the PKN Orlen is one – makes it sound like there will not be much more cooperation beyond April, once the supply deal is anticipated to end.

End of Article

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Market Outlook:

-       Crude price trading range: Brent – US$86-88/b, WTI – US$84-86/b

-       Crude oil benchmarks globally continue their gain streak for a fifth week, as the market bounces back from the lows seen in early December as the threat of the Omicron virus variant fades and signs point to tightening balances on strong consumption

-       This could set the stage for US$100/b oil by midyear – as predicted by several key analysts – as consumption rebounds ahead of summer travel and OPEC+ remains locked into its gradual consumption easing schedule 

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