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Reducing emissions with digital technologies

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Senior leaders from Wintershall Dea, Aker BP and Cognizant shared perspectives on how they are reducing emissions and how digital technologies can help, speaking at a Cognite online event.

Senior leaders from oil and gas operators Wintershall Dea and Aker BP, and from technology company Cognizant, shared perspectives on how they are reducing emissions and how digital technologies can help, in an online forum organised by Cognite as part of its 'Ignite Talks' event.

The speakers were Kathrin Dufour, SVP Digitalization & Technology with Wintershall Dea; Hege Fjell Urdahl. Vice President Integrated Operations Aker BP; and Manoj Mathew, team leader, Cognizant Technology Solutions. The moderator was Kine Johanne Årdal, Customer Success Director with Cognite.

Wintershall Dea

Wintershall Dea published its energy transition pathway in November 2020, with sustainability targets and a roadmap, said Kathrin Dufour, SVP Digitalization & Technology with Wintershall Dea.

'By 2030 we want to be net zero for emissions from upstream. Beyond 2030 we want to reduce overall carbon intensity through investments in hydrogen and CCS,' she said. 'We have also set clear targets for methane intensity and routine flaring.'

The role of digitalisation is 'firstly about information,' she said. 'We are gathering information, reprocessing it, and reporting it to our engineers to enable them to understand how emissions arise.'

'We want to use the data for making decisions. For example, 'we want to identify machines that are suboptimal, we want to correct them and optimise them.'

To make it work, 'it is very important to have leadership commitment,' she said.

'It is very important to accompany the process with a dedicated transformation and change team, in order to [support] our employees to adapt to the new ways of working.

'Also, to have a core team focussing on capability management and competency management.'

Wintershall Dea has developed an energy management data visualisation system onboard one of its offshore platforms in Norway, and two sites in Germany. People can see where electricity is being produced and where it is being consumed, and what is happening to the gas which is produced, she said.

'I think it is really important never to underestimate the change process. We have a strong focus on transformation and change, [supporting] our employees to adapt to new solutions which are being rolled out in order to increase customer acceptance.'

Aker BP

'I think what's really important is that the emission strategy is top of our executive management committee metrics,' said Hege Fjell Urdahl, Vice President Integrated Operations, Aker BP.

'It is essential that top management is clear that we have one goal and chasing it. Top management need to reward the behaviours that are demonstrated towards that goal.'

'There are dilemmas when goals are conflicting,' she said. One example of that was when Aker BP was considering investing in electric batteries on supply vessels which were chartered on long term contracts but not owned.

There was a strong sustainability business case, but the direct financial business case was not so strong. However ultimately 'our senior management went for it,' she said.

The biggest contributor to reducing emissions is electrification, with power supplied to offshore installations from shore. 'We're pioneers on the Norwegian Continental Shelf.'

Digital technologies are seen as 'a tactic to deliver on these [emissions] goals,' she said.

The integrated operations function, which Ms Urdahl leads, includes 'digital-business translators.' These teams identify and analyse performance gaps.

'We're setting specific targets [for] digital programs for energy efficiency,' she said. 'we're asking for 15,000 tonnes CO2 reductions year by year [through] digital.'

'We do that by providing high quality data that we can trust, and also the solutions that demonstrate to our operators how we run our plant.'

'We're also fortunate to have really committed owners in BP and Aker, who have a long-term commitment to building industrial solutions. One of our projects is also to co-invest in a joint project with Cognite.'

As an example of how Aker BP uses digital technology, it has a digital tool to understand exactly how much to compress gas for export lines, so the pressure is 'tuned' to the optimum level.

On one asset, 5,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions were saved during 2020 through this method, she said.

'We continue to monitor and tune other types of heavy fuel consuming equipment such as turbines, valves, compressors. Optimise their fuel usage, and also replace them if there are continuous challenges.'

Aker BP also uses data visualisation tools to track fuel use on supply vessels. 'We've managed to provide the crew onboard the ship with real time data to adjust speed,' she said. 'We have analysts and optimisers on shore optimising the actual vessel route to reduce fuel use.'

Digitalisation is also used for remote operations. Aker BP made a particular focus on 2021 to expand remote inspections of cranes. It provided video cameras and survey tools to staff on the rigs, sending video and data to remote experts, so they don't need to go offshore themselves.


Companies face a challenge executing the changes required to achieve their sustainability plans, said Manoj Mathew, team leader with Cognizant.

First, they need to measure all of their emissions, and as regulatory requirements tighten, the systems will need to be auditable, he said.

The next challenge is to use this data to re-engineer their business processes, which may mean giving people different goals.

They may need to make long term changes in their operating processes, such as how they choose suppliers.

A further challenge is making predictions of whether they are on track to achieve their 2030 and 2050 goals.

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