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Digital oilfield, and how we feel

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Would digital oilfield systems be more successful if they could take better account of the way people actually feel? This was discussed out our 'getting data tools implemented faster' sessions in Kuala Lumpur

'I'm usually a big metrics guy,' said Jess Kozman, Mubadala Petroleum. 'I want to be part of the quantitative business case.'

'But to get this moving faster, we need to do more thinking about the end users, their feelings, their egos, their 'what's in it for me, 'the qualitative part of that business case, to get the end users motivated.'

'The traditional business models in oil and gas are too restrictive,' said Julian Pickering, Digital Oilfield Solutions.

'They personal factors, satisfaction of employees and things like that. They don't include all the parameters that are relevant.'

'So if someone for example, has a load of children and they want to work at home, they're likely to be far more productive [if they can work at home]'.

In a similar way, by taking account of a more complete picture of a person's needs and interests, some companies have found that by letting some employees work at home 'their personal performance is transformational,' he said.

'You need to look at the whole picture, not just a part of it, not just the input costs vs the output costs. That is a poor quality model.'

The fashion industry has managed to organise its business around more human factors than just costs and obvious benefits, Julian Pickering said. 'Why do some women feel it's important to pay several hundred pounds for Jimmy Choo shoes? Is that so they can walk more efficiently? It's not.'

John Redfern of Digital Earth said that maybe there is a direct value to spending on fashion items, if it makes them more attractive.

'One of the most interesting studies ever seen, they took pictures of guys in front of ugly cars and then took pictures of them in front of very expensive cars, and they polled women. The guys in front of expensive cars were more attractive to the women,' he said.

'I agree, they have made a decision that is of value to them,' Mr Pickering said. 'It comes down to value at the end of the day.

The reason we show off, the reason we dress smartly and all the rest of it, is a value statement.'

'In digital oilfield terms, if we can truly articulate the value, that is more than the amount it costs rather the amount it produces, you're into a model there whereby our sales pitch will be much easier,' Mr Pickering said.

'I think it is more about what the person feels,' said Martin Henderson, senior geoscience data analyst, Santos. 'It's the 'what's in it for me.''

What you're actually saying though is how you make it sexy,' said Andy Moore, IS subsurface manager, Santos. 'So people want to do it, and more importantly young people want to do it.'

Some oil companies have already noticed that by having an exciting new technology they get direct value from becoming an 'operator and an employer of choice,' said Jess Kozman of Mubadala Petroleum.

'People will be more likely to come and work for you, you're more likely to attract the talent that will keep your operation going.'

Eric Toogood of Norwegian Petroleum Directorate thought that if value was counted in a different way, people might be more willing to let people work in different ways.

'You need somebody looking with a bird's eye perspective,' he said.

'People are doing their best, they come in the office early and stay late, think they are doing a good job, but there's a sort of disconnect with the value chain.'

Younger generation

The younger generation feels different about technology having grown up with it - and maybe if digital oilfield technologies could align better with how young people use technology, it would get taken up faster.

For example, maybe we need to dump e-mail. 'My kids never used e-mail until they went to work, now they are using e-mail,' said John Redfern. 'That was old school for them.'

But the younger generation is fine with online collaboration tools. 'We did a survey [about collaboration] of 1500 young engineers at the 2008 Society of Petroleum Engineers Intelligent Energy [conference],' said Mr Edwards.

'The thing that came back - is 22, 23, 24 year olds said, 'we can collaborate - we know how to do this.''

'The 30 year olds were basically in the same position as the older guys. Literally we were beating it out of them in the first 5 years, we were saying, you will work the way we work.'

Also, companies could move more into planning on the fly rather than in advance, like young people do when they go out.

'Our generation, if we want to go out to a bar on a Friday night, we have a plan,' Mr Edwardssaid.
'Kids go out now and start texting each other, where are you, I'm here, this place is good let's go there. They synchronise the way they work. They don't have plan, they don't co-ordinate.'

'The other thing, neurologists I believe approved, is this next generation is capable of parallel processing far better than we are,' said David Hattrick. 'They can be doing several things at one time.

'They can't concentrate on one, that is the downside,' John Redfern replied.

'My daughter, when she does her homework, has got Facebook up above her desk,' said Julian Pickering. 'If she can't do question four then the chances are, one of her collaborative colleagues can. When I did my homework it was in isolation.'

We opened a drilling real time operations centre in Aberdeen a few years back, and the drilling manager came into the office on a Saturday because there was something going on,' said Tony Edwards, StepChange Global. 'He brought his 10 year old boy in, the little boy was blown away by the giant screens and all these wiggly lines. The dad was quite proud saying this is what we've done.'

'The little boy had a go on the mouse and had a drive around the screens and everything. 15 minutes later he turned around to his dad and said, where's the second level?'

'What's in it for me'

Digital oilfield solutions might also get used faster if there were obvious benefits to the people being asked to use them, said Ugur Algan of Volantice.

'This is going to sound cynical, but we never tried to put ourselves in users' shoes and ask [from their perspective] 'what's in it for me,'' he said. 'We ask 'what's in it for the company,' or the community, but 'what's in it for me, 'that question doesn't get asked.'

'Either be in control, and say, 'you have to do it or else,' or you have to incentivise people in some way, pay them or give them a bonus.'

For example, when trying to persuade people to start using a standard such as WITSML, [They say]

''WITSML would be good, but yeah you are asking me to do all this extra work because [it helps people who work downstream]. I don't care.''

'Especially if it eliminates your job,' said John Redfern of Digital Earth.

'If you don't answer 'what's in it for me 'you're in a lot of trouble,' said Tony Edwards of Step Change Global.

'You [end up wanting] mechanical engineers to do something on behalf of production engineers. So the production engineers win, but you're asking a different discipline to do something.

'Unless you can align that and make it work it becomes very difficult.'

'If you incentivise people in the same way to have the same outcome, you've got a better chance of winning.'

'You can also then align the organisation, then you've got a better chance.'

At one oil company, Step Change Global was asked to put together a model for an entire asset including upstream and the terminals.

But because all the staff were either working in one department or another one, hardly anyone felt they could get a benefit from the model, apart from the person at the top, the asset manager.

'So nobody owned the model. Nobody utilised anything out of the model,' he said.

'Until they said, this is not two performance units, this is one performance unit with one manager. Then it worked fine.'



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