West and Sub-Saharan Africa are exciting frontiers, expected to prove a key resource with regard to the increasing demand for oil and gas from fast-growth economies such as Asia
This demand is pushing the industry’s technical knowledge to its very limits, with fields considered unfeasible to develop around ten years ago now becoming viable prospects.
Africa is considered a world-class area for such exploratory opportunities, with many regions having an abundance of natural resources. Deepwater fields off the coast of West Africa are home to some of the largest and most prolific oil and gas fields, with some energy analysts suggesting they could present greater opportunities than Brazil’s offshore fields. Nigeria, for example is known to have some of the largest natural gas reserves in the region, while Angola is one of the continent’s largest oil producers. However, there is still an element of uncertainty on the part of operators to invest in the region’s potential.
Given the uncertainty and sometimes challenging operating environment in Africa, those operators who are helping to unlock the potential of the region are facing increasing pressure to optimise resources, standardise process and deliver faster turnarounds. Combined with the challenge of managing cumulative risk and the demands to adhere to tighter safety regulations, operators and contractors are looking at how they can improve their operational efficiencies and operational risk management (ORM).
One of the key areas where performance and ORM can be significantly improved, but is often overlooked, is frontline work execution. Frontline operations have changed very little in the past 40 years, with many systems still relying on completing manual forms in triplicate. Paper based forms cannot provide the data or visibility over operations required to give sufficient oversight into one of the riskiest areas of operations.
Technology is a significant enabler of business process in the oil and gas industry, playing an integral role in guiding and structuring decision making by operationalising the rules for frontline workers. The work execution process can be captured, providing the visibility over how well operations are being managed.
Petrotechnics is supporting operators to deliver these improvements to their operations in the region. Through the implementation of Sentinel PRO it is improving risk management, operational efficiency and enhancing workforce safety through the simplification, standardisation and systemisation of Safe Work Control. By combining effective Safe Work Control practices with operations, through Sentinel PRO, tangible benefits can immediately be realised with a structured approach and increased operational risk management.
How the system works
The Sentinel PRO system recognises and overcomes challenges in the unstructured and dynamic nature of managing operations, maintenance and associated activity through a unified business process that integrates permit to work, risk assessment and isolation management. This is delivered to the user in an intuitive, graphical, real-time software tool that has the ability to capture lessons learned, encouraging users to share knowledge and experience across the organisation. In doing so, this creates a safer place of work.
Increased efficiency is matched with accelerated maintenance and remedial work resulting in better plan attainment and a corresponding improvement in integrity. Sentinel PRO fundamentally shifts the approach to the planning and integration of all aspects of frontline work to give a clear overview, appropriate safe work control and assurance of intervention activities. For example, shutdowns can be planned many months in advance with the flexibility to manage the process either from the installation or from the beach.
The increase in efficiency that the technology provides is complimented by the level of control that is attained throughout the risk assessment process as its transparent nature means that all users can view risk assessment, permits to work, isolations, audit trails and lessons learned, all within a fully integrated and regulated system.
The tangible implementation benefits include increased workplace governance and control, improved efficiency, streamlined processes and assurance that all work risk is assessed to the appropriate level. Process efficiency can be achieved through more effective communication, improved maintenance planning and greater schedule compliance.
Petrotechnics deploys Sentinel Pro in Africa
Petrotechnics has deployed Sentinel PRO for a number of major operators in countries including Angola, Nigeria, Tunisia and Cameroon, demonstrating a great depth of experience with regard to the challenges faced by operators in Africa.
A contract win by Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company (SNEPCo) earlier this year, saw the successful completion and deployment of Sentinel PRO on the SNEPCo-operated, Bonga floating production storage and offloading installation (FPSO).One of Petrotechnics’ largest FPSO projects to date, Bonga, which is situated 120km from the Niger Delta coast, is the height of a 12-storey high building and the equivalent of three soccer pitches long. Having deployed Sentinel PRO previously on other FPSOs, this project enabled us to further showcase the tangible safety and efficiency improvements the system can provide through its successful completion.
Petrotechnics has also worked with a number of major operators across the region. Our work with a client in Tunisia saw the technology recognised, with Petrotechnics receiving a safety innovation award for the implementation of our Integrated Safe System of Work (ISSOW) solution, Sentinel PRO. The system successfully enhanced knowledge flow and decision making for all of the operators we worked with in the region and has improved communication between local sites, ultimately leading to increased safety and reduced exposure to risks for their employees.
Petrotechnics has demonstrated its position as a leader in the delivery of best practice processes to the frontline. Our experience in helping operators in Africa improve operational efficiency and operational risk management is unparalleled. We have global agreements with the three largest energy super majors and Sentinel PRO® is already being deployed at 350 sites, clear evidence that global operators are using this technology to transform the safety and efficiency of ‘how work gets done’. The drive to reduce cost and increase production in a safe and sustainable way is a pressure that is here to stay. Petrotechnics’ solution has proven itself in Safe Work Control and provides the foundation for further integration with other enterprise systems such as maintenance, planning and incident investigation.
By Iain Mackay, executive vice president, Petrotechnics Limited