Nexen uses optimisation and scheduling technology to realise significant costs savings in marine logistics. Ground breaking optimisation and efficiency technology for offshore marine support operations has been developed for the oil and gas industry. The innovative software, which has been developed by PlanSea Ltd., a spin out company from Robert Gordon University (RGU), has been applied by Nexen to remove significant cost from its North Sea operations.
Working with PlanSea, Nexen was able to simulate 65 weeks of its full North Sea marine operations using different schedules and combinations of its platform supply vessel (PSV) fleet. The results showed that significant reductions in fleet size and improvements in vessel utilisation could be achieved by re-organising its operations.
Nexen’s Managing Director UK and SVP Europe, Ray Riddoch, is delighted with the progress Nexen has made. He said: “In order to live at a low oil price, operators need to make a step change in eliminating waste in the supply chain and this requires a step change in thinking about new modes of operation. Through working with PlanSea, we have been able to enhance vessel utilisation and so reduce our North Sea PSV fleet from four vessels to two, resulting in a 2016 saving of some £6.5M.”
Prof. John McCall of RGU whose expert team at the university developed the system, explained: “Our system uses advanced algorithms to optimise vessel utilisation while still meeting all operational objectives. We have spent several years working with industry partners to model supply vessel operations so that we can be confident we have captured all of the constraints and delays that make offshore logistics such a complex task.”
PlanSea Managing Director, Jim Cargill, is optimistic about the potential for the newly proven technology. He said: “The ability to accurately identify feasible ways in which reduced fleets can operate and validate that in realistic simulation is a game changer. There is a tremendous opportunity for the industry to collaborate with shared PSV fleets, potentially taking 40% – 50% out of resource costs. In the North Sea that could mean continued viability for assets that are struggling to break even in the current environment. Looking forward to a recovery in price, the value of savings made now will increase – as activity rises the cost base will rise at a slower rate as efficient fleet sizing is maintained.”
Stephen Marcos Jones, Business Excellence Director, Oil & Gas UK, was supportive of the initiative. He added: “Oil & Gas UK launched the Efficiency Task Force in September last year to drive forward efficiency improvement across the industry, as such we are delighted to see this collaboration by PlanSea and Nexen achieving these great results. Their work together shows how taking an innovative approach and harnessing technology can drive efficiency improvements and is another small step in the transformational change required by industry to ensure the sustainability of the UK Continental Shelf.”
Margaret Copland, Senior Wells & Technology Manager, at the Oil & Gas Authority also welcomed the news. She said “As Operators and the Supply Chain work hard to reduce costs there is a recognition that harnessing new technology to help collaboration and reduce costs is essential to allow the industry to prosper. Technologies such as digital have the potential to transform the industry and this example of utilising algorithms and machine learning to optimise vessel utilisation is part of that journey. The progress that Nexen and PlanSea have made in utilising software technology to make significant savings in offshore supply costs is therefore very encouraging.”