Australian oil and gas giant, Woodside, has embraced a range of technology from data analytics and cognitive computing to 3D printing and artificial intelligence (AI) in a bid to deliver greater insights, help reduce costs and ensure high production performance and reliability.
“We believe that technology and innovation are essential to bringing down costs and unlocking future growth,” the company said in its latest annual report. “Woodside is introducing industry-leading technology and innovation capabilities across the oil and gas value chain.”
The company revealed it is pioneering remote support and the application of AI and advanced analytics across its operations.
“We are pioneering the application of advanced analytics and cognitive computing in our operations to leverage our collective knowledge and to support operational excellence,” the report said.
According to the company, its advanced analytics program is built around a range of statistical tools, updated with live streaming data from its onshore LNG and offshore assets.
“These tools aid decision making in our engineering and operations teams across a wide range of initiatives including surveillance, optimisation, planning, process control and maintenance.”
In 2016, the company built a Maximum Possible Production (MPP) tool for its Pluto LNG train that provides insights on live production performance compared to the best historical performance of the plant in similar conditions.
“This tool helps our engineers and operators track and interpret current performance against previous best practice and is now also being trialled for our NWS LNG trains.”
During 2016, the company continued to roll out IBM’s Watson cognitive computing system across its entire organisation, with 12 separate deployments during the year.
“We also developed a prototype of our 'Willow' cognitive adviser tool, which can interrogate all of the separate Watson systems as well as other corporate knowledge and reporting systems. These tools are augmenting the intelligence of our employees by putting all of Woodside’s collective knowledge of operating experience at their fingertips, enabling faster, data-driven decision making,” the report noted.
3D printing to the rescue
On the 3D printing front, the technology was used last year when a vital electricity safety switch for the Goodwyn A Platform off the north-west coast of Australia malfunctioned during a maintenance shutdown, the company revealed.
“The hard-to-get part was critical to completion of the shutdown. For every day it was not repaired, the potential impact was an extra day on the end of the shutdown, leaving about 100 workers unoccupied, waiting for power to be restored.
“We were able to reproduce the part at the 3D printing facility at Monash University and it was on its way to site within three days. It has been installed in the electrical switchboard. Such 3D printing enables us to reproduce bespoke spare parts quickly, potentially reducing inventory and sparing. Woodside supports the 3D printing program at Monash University."
Last year, the company developed capability to reduce operating and warehouse storage costs and improve efficiencies through advances in producing spares on demand under its 3D printing program.
“In 2016, we grew our capability in 3D printing and installed our first 3D printed parts on our operating facilities. This program allows us to rapidly reproduce parts by accelerating the prototyping, testing and eventually deployment of new gas-processing technology.
The benefits of additive manufacturing go beyond the convenience of being able to reproduce parts as required, as we currently hold around A$100 million of inventory spares at our Karratha Gas Plant (KGP) for Woodside and our fellow joint venture participants.”
During the year, the company also installed a low-cost WiFi solution at the KGP plant, which the company said has delivered significant improvements through a fast and cost-effective way of acquiring additional plant data to enhance the KGP's operating envelope and ultimately to increase the production capacity of the operating unit.
“It enables smart operations and underpins the mobile worker of the future, allowing operators access to services and support in the field, improving productivity and plant availability.”
Additionally, the company is investigating new technologies that allow for faster exploration and an economical offshore development.
“These technologies include advances in subsea technologies, offshore seismic interpretation, floating and subsea production systems and exploration and production wells,” the report said. “In exploration, our seismic acquisition and processing initiatives include the application of full wave form inversion (FWI) technology that delivers clearer subsurface images much faster.”
The company is also working towards delivering the ‘Plant of the Future,’ which it said will be smaller, smarter and safer through the use of advanced technologies including 3D printing, predictive analytics, modularisation, wireless controls and remote monitoring.