ABB Offers Views on Industrial Automation for Oil & Gas Sector

Singapore Exhibition Services Pte Ltd, organizer of OSEA2014 to be held in Singapore in December, reported Thursday that it had interviewed Alf Kare Adnanes (AKA), ABB's Vice president, Technology Manager - Marine & Cranes for his views on the development of the industrial automation industry for the Oil and Gas Sector.

Analysts have forecast that the global Industrial Automation Control market to grow at a CAGR of almost seven percent from 2013 to 2018, with increasing demand for automation control systems from the oil and gas industry being one of the key contributing factors. As oil and gas become more challenging to extract and store, companies, in a bid to maintain business sustainability, are seeking new ways to boost work flow and performance, lower energy wastage, and better manage overall operational costs.

Oil & Gas Sector – What Lies Ahead for Industrial Automation Players

AKA: The rapid development in communication and IT, as well as the feasibility of integrating field operations with onshore operational centres, will see new solutions for integrating automation and information systems. This development has already begun, and is expected to have significant growth potential.

For the marine/shipping side of the offshore oil and gas industries, adoption of these technologies is lagging other industries. There is a vast opportunity in utilizing modern automation in terms of optimizing the performance of vessels, reducing fuel consumption, and to have a much better monitoring of the performance as well as technical conditions of the plant. We see opportunities to be utilized first in the higher end segments where the daily values in charters and costs can justify the return of such investments.

The Need to Adapt for Challenging Environments

AKA: In general, the automation solution is changing from being loop-oriented to be process- and plant- oriented. Optimizing loops are being extended to optimize the overall process and plant control systems. As a consequence of this, the requirements for reporting performance have increased. Safety and availability becomes more important as operations are moved to more challenging environments and less accessible areas; which means that automation systems become more advanced in terms of monitoring and predicting performance and technical conditions. Remote connectivity towards shore-based operational centres with the operators and/or suppliers also gains more importance.

End-users’ Reluctance to Migrate to the Latest Technology

AKA: Such reluctance is not necessarily unhealthy, as one should always consider the benefits of upgrading the plant to the costs of upgrade and potential disturbances in the system.

My thoughts about this are, that when making a major investment in a new plant, or upgrade, the decision should not only be based on what you get today, but to also consider the long term strategy for the technology being selected. The technology is moving fast, and it is impossible to always have the latest technology installed in all plants; but it is still possible to plan for the years to come by designing a system that has the ability to extend in structure and functionality without replacing all of it. There might be additional costs to a system that is designed for long term operation and compatibility to future technologies, but this allows for a much more continuous and gradual implementation of new technologies that will provide a steady improvement in the performance and efficiency of the plant.


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