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Baker Hughes - 'outcome based' solutions with digital tech

Thursday, October 14, 2021

The big challenge for oil and gas companies today is to work out the best way to use digital technology to get the right outcome for the business, not just having the right monitoring or diagnostic capability, says Baker Hughes Digital Solutions.

What oil and gas companies really want today is help and advice on how to put the various digital technologies together so they can see how to achieve their high level goals, says Rami Qasem, Executive Vice President, Digital Solutions, Baker Hughes.

Clients are looking for 'outcome based solutions' today, he says. Data from all of their various sensors and devices needs to be 'rolled up' so the 'the end user gets one recommendation and one outcome.' This means much more than having monitoring or diagnostic capability.

So Baker Hughes focusses on helping companies better manage 'the whole value chain of the operation, providing the right advice, focusing on an outcome based solution.'

The COVID pandemic has pushed many clients to think about better ways to manage their operations, and perhaps also given them more time to think about it, he says. 'That's a key theme of everything that's been happening. You have seen how the industry has been transforming more rapidly on the digital front, than we have seen a decade ago.'

'The way I think about it, you need to first prescribe and decide what you're trying to achieve, based on the outcome you are trying to achieve,' he said.

The top level goals for every oil and gas company involve safety, emissions and productivity. But then the first step to achieving these goals is usually to achieve a certain level of reliability with the operations. There will be certain assets which are more critical than others in achieving a reliable safety level. Or reliability may depend on certain aspects of your supply chain.

'Then you will be able to decide - what is the missing part in all of this, in order to reach the right outcome,' he says.

Baker Hughes worked in this way with Petrobras. It did not start by saying 'here's a new system we're trying to sell you'. It started off with asking, 'tell us the problem you face,' Mr Qasem says.

Petrobras said it had over 6,000 sensor systems across all of its assets, but had difficulty figuring out how the whole sites were connecting together. Having this connected view was important for being able to answer questions such as, do we have enough feedstock.

Petrobras also had specific goals it wanted to achieve, like 'reduced greenhouse gas emissions'.

Once these high level goals are defined, the next steps might be to install better ways to measure flaring or methane emissions, and connect this into a comprehensive digital ecosystem. 'You will be able to find a better way to connect the dots,' Mr Qasem says.

Depth and breadth

Providing such outcome based digital solutions involves both depth and breadth.

The depth element involves understanding how company's businesses work, and how new technologies work. For example, Baker Hughes has projects to use AI on drill bit data, enabling better insights into the condition of drill bits. It helps customers better understand how new technologies may be relevant to them, such as applying CT scanning devices from the healthcare industry, or using 3D printing.

The breadth aspect involves connecting different elements and understanding to get the right outcome. Companies are seeking to break out of their old 'silo' structures and move to having a horizontal digital enabled structure, with better joining of the dots. Achieving breadth can also mean deploying technologies at the right scale, across the client's entire operations, not just in one place.

Another example of breadth is where it helps a client tackle multiple goals at once. For example methane monitoring devices and systems can help with emissions, safety and production at the same time.

Inventory management

An important part of achieving reliable operations, and one which is often overlooked, is better management of inventory of spare parts and feedstock. Companies need to be sure they have whatever they might need quickly available, but they do not have unlimited capital and space available for goods in storage. But the demand is often unpredictable.

Baker Hughes has been working together with the company C3.AI as its strategic partner, developing AI based methods to plan inventory.

Mr Qasem's business unit has worked with C3.AI for its internal purposes, to reduce its inventory of stocks and to plan future manufacturing, including making predictions of future customer demand.

Baker Hughes Digital Solutions

Baker Hughes Digital Solutions is a multi-billion-dollar business unit.

It provides a range of digital devices under a number of brands, including condition monitoring (Bently Nevada), sensing such as for flow and temperature (Druck, Panametrics, Reuter-Stokes), control systems and cybersecurity (Nexus Controls). Also industrial inspection (Waygate Technologies, Process & Pipeline Services).

It also provides monitoring systems, software and services to connect all their data together in a digital ecosystem. It serves 20 industries, not just oil and gas.

The company has its own R&D centre in Oklahoma City, USA, which it calls its 'Energy Innovation Center'.

Associated Companies
» Baker Hughes (BHGE)
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