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ConocoPhillips - making integrated operations work

Friday, August 31, 2012

ConocoPhillips celebrated 40 years of production from its Ekofisk field (in the Southern part of the North Sea) in June 2011, and on the same day received approval for a $40bn redevelopment of the field, said Brage Sandstad, Manager Norway Operations, ConocoPhillips, also speaking at the 3rd plenary session of Intelligent Energy conference in Utrecht.

There are 1,300 people working offshore at Ekofisk at any time. It supplies gas to Northern Germany, and oil to Teeside (North East England). 'It has been and still is a great field,' he said.

Conoco Phillips uses the 'Six Sigma' methodology to try to reduce defects and minimise variability. It has over 60 Six Sigma 'black belts,' or people specially trained in it.

To figure out how to make its integrated operations work, ConocoPhillips staff have visited neighbouring industries to see how they do it, including
aerospace, automobile, shipping industry, Norwegian mail services (to see their planning and scheduling system), he said 'We have much in common with those industries.'

The predicted total lifetime of the field has doubled, he said, and the recovery [ratio] has increased 3 times.

The term 'Integrated operations' at ConocoPhillips means integrating offshore and onshore, integrating the company with its service providers, and integrating people in different disciplines, all to drive 'improvement across the entire operations.'

'IO is more a philosophy we are proposing than a project we were implementing,' he said.

The company has 11 different onshore control rooms all looking at different aspects of the field. 'These centres are our arena where integration takes place,' he said.

For most of the rooms, work to develop the new work processes started after people had moved into the room, he said.

Probably the biggest driver for integrated operations is the need to improve safety, he said.

It can do this by making it easier to get the right experts involved.

'In the past we had no choice but depend on the expertise we sent to the field. Now we can provide additional expertise to view and consult,' he said.

Integrated operations has also helped improve maintenance efficiency by over 15 per cent.

The production activity is 'more stable with fewer shutdowns,' he said.

'Our supplier boat services have become more efficient. We could take one boat out of our fleet and eliminate spot charters.'

The challenge now is to make the improvement sustainable, rather than just short term gains.

In future 'we aim to be more proactive and predictive,' he said.

Associated Companies
» Conoco Phillips
» Intelligent Energy Event
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