Thursday, 17 June 2021

Thinking out of the box?



With the recent volatility in oil prices and the pandemic creating havoc with planned and future projects, many OpEx budgets are feeling the squeeze. From an automation and control perspective there are certainly many options to maintain or reduce costs while providing the same, if not more functionality. All it needs is a little out of the box thinking.

Offshore rig Images, Royalty-free Stock Offshore rig Photos & Pictures |  Depositphotos

Engineering in the oil and gas industry is conservative in its outlook and tends to shy away from control and automation vendors with little or no footprint in that sector. Looking at control, three big OEM’s stand out. Honeywell, Emerson and ABB with Yokagawa, Siemens and Schneider bringing up the rear. Why is this? Well, I’ve heard many reasons, from “I want my instruments to connect to my control system so it makes sense their from the same vendor” to “Smaller OEM’s cant supply reliable enough equipment”. Both of these views are patently wrong, but nevertheless hard to shift.

Let’s just look at the second point “Smaller OEM’s cant supply reliable enough equipment”. If you look at just some of the automation and control manufacturers who are not big in the oil and gas sector and look at which sectors they do supply you will see industries with high reliability requirements (FMCG) and also high availability needs. When you are manufacturing products that have very small profit margins but high volumes you need both reliability and availability to ensure your production lines not only are available 24/7 but if a problem does occur the downtime is minimal. You also need a system which will provide consistent product to high standards reliably.

This is where oil and gas should be looking, control and automation solutions which can provide both and at a cost which meets all the functionality but in those squeezed margins.

I’ve linked 3 manufactures here who I think would do well in the oil and gas industry and who have the equipment which could fulfil the demanding requirements of the sector.




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