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Bringing the fourth industrial revolution to the offshore energy system


Stephen Ashley

Stephen Ashley

Head of Offshore Energy 4.0

The oil and gas industry is going through radical change, much of that change is being driven by the application of digital technologies, some of which are already common place in other sectors.   We are now seeing the successful application of exciting digital technologies offshore, technology applications that are radically improving project performance, production efficiency and work force productivity.

You could call this a ‘fourth industrial revolution’, a blurring of boundaries between the physical and digital. Offshore and onshore we are seeing advances in the application of artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, quantum computing, and other technologies. 

OGTC and our industry partners are at the forefront of this revolution, by investing in exciting digitisation and automation projects, many of which will prove to be critical to managing emissions reduction and speeding up our efforts to achieve a net zero North Sea.

However there is still much to be done, and as an industry we need to move at a faster pace to drive even more digital innovation and continue to improve efficiencies in our sector.   

In September 2020 OGTC published ‘Closing the Gap ’, a significant report examining the need for innovation to achieve net zero targets by 2050.  As well as identifying crucial technology gaps, it also provided a roadmap to show what needs to be done, highlighting the need for a mix of technologies to support the energy transition. You can read the whole report here

The report shone a light on the need to close the technology gaps, and quickly.  At OGTC we are responding by focusing on critical areas such as automation of industry processes and practices, use of smart data, machine-to-machine communication (M2M) and the application of industrial internet of things (IIoT).   By investing in closing the digital gaps, OGTC and our industry partners will play a significant role to ensure that important digital technologies are developed and deployed offshore.     

We have developed our digital technology roadmap, we have enhanced our digital technology programme, we call it Offshore Energy 4.0, and it has three keys themes:

Smart assets

Enabling a future where assets are fully digitised using data on cross-sector digital platforms to support modifications, upgrades and new builds alongside materials and engineering solutions. This will lower expenditure, maximise efficiency and increase sustainability. The focus areas include;

  • Greenfield and field of the future applications
  • Brownfield and legacy facilities
  • Efficiency and operational improvement

Field automation and remote operations

Seeking to deliver a future of remote operations enabled by secure and reliable connectivity with low latency and scalable bandwidth. Data is collected by reliable sensors and processed by edge computing to optimise and automate operations using advanced human-computer interface and visualisation tools. This area will examine the need for;

  • Secure and reliable communications
  • Sensors, edge computing & automation technologies
  • Data platforms and visualisation

Robotics and autonomous systems

Seeking to enable a future that minimises human presence offshore by ensuring that remote, dangerous and dirty activities, that cannot be managed by automation, are performed by autonomous robots. These are built for the specific environment and can safely and efficiently interact with humans. This area will look at applications in all the following environments;

  • Air and land
  • On and underwater
  • Subsurface

We are looking for ambitious and innovative companies to come and join us deliver a revolution as we say #HelloFuture. Learn more about this programme or get in touch If you have a digital technology idea.

See the latest technologies to feature in our “Tech in Play” campaign, which includes CorrosionRadar's remote monitoring, and Autonomous Robotics' smart, cost-effective OBS.