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Wipro - managing complex IT systems

Friday, May 11, 2012

IT service giant Wipro is helping oil and gas companies put together and manage complex oil and gas IT systems, including for hydrocarbon accounting and production modelling, following its acquisition of SAIC's oil and gas IT practise last year

IT service and consulting giant Wipro, based in Bangalore, is helping oil and gas companies install and manage complex IT systems in areas such as hydrocarbon accounting and production modelling, following its acquisition of the oil and gas IT consulting business of SAIC last year.

Wipro is not developing software itself, but helping oil and gas companies work with the complex software packages on the market, including for well engineering and subsurface, and helping them to manage the associated data.

The industry has an unmet need for service providers who can help install and manage large and complex software and data systems, reckons Suraj Rangashayi, the newly appointed vice president and global practice head of oil and gas at Wipro Technologies.

Many companies can get software and processes to run fine on a small scale, but run into problems when the installations get bigger, and there are very few service providers who can do it, he believes.

Mr Rangashayi has worked in the oil and gas industry for 20 years, previously as a field engineer with Schlumberger, and later with another IT services company. He joined the company shortly after it made the SAIC acquisition in April 2011.

Wipro's energy, natural resources and utility group has 5,000 staff members. There are also staff members from other parts of Wipro working full time on areas such as data integration and analytics, who can be pulled in as required.

Mr Rangashayi wants to help oil and gas companies put together systems to manage their data, including from seismic surveys and well sensors. 'There's a ton of data which is created and needs to be managed,' he said.

Wipro does not offer software hosting and data management services itself, but helps its clients run their own systems. 'Clients tend to have their own databases and data centres,' he said. 'We're trying to manage the process around how data comes in.'

Production and reporting

An interesting area is helping oil and gas companies manage their hydrocarbon production and reporting systems, understand where their products are going and maintain regulatory compliance.

Oil fields are getting very complicated, with multiple wells, different fluids, different flows, different partners on different wells. To track which fluids have been produced and which are flowing where 'requires a robust enterprise class technology platform,' he said.

With the existing methods of managing it, such as spreadsheets, 'there's limited assurance and audit ability,' he said. And 'a lot of revenue leakage is happening,' he said.

Wipro is helping oil and gas companies put together integrated models of their production system, including subsurface data, well engineering data and production data. This could be used to maximise production from the overall system. 'That's got a huge business value potential,' he said.

The system could also be provided 'off the shelf' - so if a company wanted to start drilling a new block, Wipro could immediately provide a suite of software applications and systems to manage it.

'The biggest requirement for oil and gas industry is the ability to model out the reservoir and the information and production enhancement, in a much more sophisticated way,' he said.
'To be able to do this kind of modelling, you need to computing power and access to the database.'

'Everything starts to centre around the need to provide much more modelling horsepower.'

Mr Rangashayi believes that an integrated database system for all subsurface data, including exploration data, won't happen for a while. People are happy enough working on their own databases.

'I don't see it all migrating into a single model any time in the future,' he said.

But we are likely to see more use of data standards such as RESQML which can help move data between subsurface applications, he said.

You will also see more use of data management tools which can help you managed the different versions of the same data. 'It tells you where the single source of the truth resides,' he said.


Another area Wipro would like to develop a service offering is in building and running collaborative work environments, to help field personnel work more closely with experts in the office.

For example, if amount of water coming out of a production well starts to increase, office staff might be in a better position to work out what the problem is than field staff. ' You can have people addressing the problem from all angles. Reservoir engineering, well engineering, maintenance - they can figure out what is the best plan to maximise production,' he said.

Supply chains

Wipro is 'building up solutions' to help companies manage supply chains, maintenance and asset integrity, he said. 'We have a solution which can track all elements of an asset.'

This includes data about all the different systems and equipment, maintenance schedules,
part numbers, past equipment failure rates.

'We're talking about making sure all of the information is codified, so it is available to the maintenance folks in a single consolidated way,' he said.

'We want to provide all of that information in an easy to access manner, so all the maintenance that needs to happen, can happen in time and people can work out what is the appropriate maintenance schedule.'

Wipro / SAIC

Wipro acquired the oil and gas IT consulting business of US company SAIC in April 2011.

The idea was to bring together SAIC's oil and gas industry domain knowledge together with Wipro's IT, software and data capability, to be able to put together services which could provide both at the same time, i.e. manage the IT, data and software for an oil and gas operation.

The acquisition was driven partly by requests from oil companies, who were working with both Wipro and SAIC and could see that the two companies had a complementary offering.

'The SAIC offer was fairly unique in the market place. They did bring in quite a lot of domain consulting and competencies that don't [otherwise] exist,' Mr Rangashayi said.

'Wipro has scalable IT competencies. If you marry that with domain competence, you have a proposition which spans business and IT.'

The two companies are also complementary on a geographic basis, with SAIC strong in the US and Wipro strong in Europe, he said. Together we 'provide a global proposition.'

The two companies are also complementary in that Wipro is strong in downstream and SAIC strong in upstream, he said.

But upstream is more interesting. 'That's where the opportunity to innovate is,' he said.

Open standards

There is a big push for more use of open standards coming from customers, particularly to the Energistics standards like PRODML and WITSML, he said.

In the past, data systems have often been proprietary (closed). 'Vested interests have been large enough to enforce that,' he said.

'But the push to open standards is coming from the customers. Customers want to diversify across vendors, and not be held hostage by any stack provider. So that is driving a push towards open data standards.'

Vendors often 'acknowledge that is the way the world is moving,' he said. 'You can see a push right now manifesting itself from the vendors today.'

Associated Companies
» Wipro Limited


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