A new technology mapping capability is being jointly developed by the Industry Technology Facilitator (ITF) and energy technology consultants OTM Consulting. It will allow users to understand how their technology needs fit in with the global "landscape" of existing, field-trial-ready and emerging technologies in the oil and gas sector. OTM and ITF are confident that this will help to accelerate the uptake of new technology and enable greater collaboration and end user input to the development of new technology, as well as allowing R&D budgets to be targeted more effectively.
The technology mapping function will be integrated into a knowledgebase called TechnologyTradingPost, that OTM have been developing since 2007, and which is already supported by eleven oil companies worldwide. TechnologyTradingPost currently includes 3400 research projects from over 700 technology development organizations around the world. Information about users' technology requirements will be mapped onto this knowledgebase to highlight areas where technology is available or work may already be ongoing, as well as gaps where new development may be required.
ITF's managing director Neil Poxon explained, "The current climate highlights the value of this kind of approach to ensuring that the industry can get maximum benefit from technology that already exists or is under development, and can target technology development funds most effectively. A comprehensive technology database is essential if this is to succeed. When we discovered that OTM had launched their TechnologyTradingPost knowledgebase, it seemed very much in the spirit of what we were trying to achieve to join forces with them to develop what they had already done, rather than to start from scratch ourselves."
The challenge for any knowledgebase like TechnologyTradingPost is to find a model that can be sustained in the long term. Populating a knowledgebase such as this requires a significant and sustained effort, and that effort is wasted if a "critical mass" of industry buy-in is not secured. However, OTM's managing director Chris Dudgeon believes that this new collaboration will enable long term sustainability. He said: "When we first had the idea for TechnologyTradingPost, the benefits were clear and we were excited about the rapid uptake across the industry. As a result of the new collaboration between OTM and ITF, a number of additional companies have already signed up, and we now anticipate that membership will double over the coming year. In partnership, OTM and ITF are well placed to ensure that TechnologyTradingPost becomes both a mainstream tool for technology users and a focal point for the global R&D and technology community."
The model developed allows technology developers to become “partners” at no cost. They can post information about new R&D proposals and keep their own technology entries up to date. Operating companies pay an annual membership fee that allows access to an unlimited number of users within that company. The same model will continue when the technology mapping function is incorporated, with users able to post their technology needs anonymously.
Work is now progressing to develop the gap analysis methodology and software, and Technology Trading Post 2, which will incorporate the new technology mapping capability, is set to be launched in July 2010.
Neil Poxon and Chris Dudgeon both agree that the way the industry has developed means that it can be very difficult for an operations manager within an operating company to track down the details of all the technology development projects that their own company has supported, let alone keep track of the wider picture, and R&D directors can face similar issues when it comes to long term planning.
Poxon added, "An industry resource like this is long overdue -- not least because of the challenges involved in creating it. By working together with OTM, we can create a comprehensive technology knowledgebase and mapping tool that will result in more focused spending on R&D and improved technology implementation in the field."