Woodside's Plant of the Future

Posted on: Friday, 11 September 2015 at 4:02:29 PM

Woodside’s Plant of the Future

August 2015

Wednesday the 19th of August 2015, saw the inaugural AICC(WA) and Curtin University Oil and Gas Annual Event, as part of the AICC(WA) and Woodside Oil & Gas Innovation Series, featuring guest speaker, Mr Sean Salter, Vice President of Technology, Woodside Energy Ltd.

Sean has over 26 years’ experience in the oil and gas industry, having joined Woodside in 2004 undertaking responsibility for Woodside’s Subsea and Pipeline capability. In his current role Sean is responsible for the development and maturation of technology across Woodside’s business.

Woodside is Australia’s largest independent oil and gas company, established in 1954. The company is globally focused on Exploration, Development, Production and Marketing and Trading.

From L to R: Mr Larry Lopez, Partner, Australian Venture Consultants & Vice President, Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce(WA), Professor Deborah Terry AO, Vice-Chancellor, Curtin University, Mr Eduardo Valente, Accenture Strategy Lead WA, Accenture, Mr Sean Salter, Vice President Technology, Woodside Energy Ltd, Mr Mark Patterson, WA Branch Manager, Cisco Systems Australia Pty Ltd, Mr Nigel Court, Managing Director, Resources, Accenture and Dr Neil Kavanagh, Chief Science & Technology Manager, Woodside Energy Ltd

From L to R - Mr Nigel Court, Managing Director – Resources, Accenture, Mr Mark Patterson, WA Branch Manager, Cisco Systems Australia Pty Ltd, Mr Sean Salter, Vice President Technology, Woodside Energy Ltd, Dr Neil Kavanagh, Chief Science & Technology Manager, Woodside Energy Ltd, Professor Deborah Terry AO, Vice-Chancellor, Curtin University, Mr Eduardo Valente, Accenture Strategy Lead WA, Accenture and Mr Paul Nicholls, Director, Strategic Projects, Office of Research and Development, Curtin University

Woodside’s Plant of the Future combines the latest LNG Technology with next generation digital to achieve plant optimisation, enhanced reliability and a safe working environment. As Australia’s most experienced LNG operator, approximately 70% of Woodside’s revenue comes through natural gas production including LNG, LPG and pipeline gas. With strong supply reserves, and price volatility a major influence, the companies investment is currently directed equally towards infrastructure and exploration as strategic priorities.

The company has built a reputation for designing its infrastructure (Offshore & Onshore) using a standardised and modular approach, driven by the remoteness of its operations. The offshore facilities are connected to the onshore facilities with a significant network of pipelines enabling efficent transportation of gas. However the more recent evolvement of floating LNG production has eliminated the need for offshore pipelines and thereby substantially reduced infrastructure overheads. Further automation through remotely managed data and control systems has allowed for support, data science and analysis to be optimised. Woodside’s Plant of the Future will be driven by further infrastructure elimination, process intensification and remote operation. The evolvement of autonomous control of transport and drone technology is rapidly maturing from its infancy just a few years ago and are examples of technologies in adjacent local industries that could be utilised.  

In the broadest terms, Woodside’s physical assets or infrastructure is their ‘Plant’ which includes:

  • Oil producing assets, FPSO’s (Floating Production, Storage and Offloading) facilities supported by subsea facilities
  • The offshore wells and gas platforms
  • Large, long pipelines to bring the gas from our offshore platforms onshore
  • Facilities to cool the gas (to minus 160’C) and turn it into liquid, commonly known as an LNG Trains.
  • Storage Tanks and from there onto vessels via jetties and then to market.
  • The company is contemplating “Plant of the Future” in a number of these areas, building on their experience to date. In particular, a physical reduction in the number of modules is accompanied by the integration and transfer of facilities into a barge thereby reducing labor overheads that would otherwise be required for remote site construction.

From L to R - Mr Eduardo Valente, Accenture Strategy Lead WA, Accenture, Mr Larry Lopez, Partner, Australian Venture Consultants and Vice President, Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce (WA) and Mr Sean Salter, Vice President Technology, Woodside Energy Ltd

Mr Sean Salter, Vice President Technology, Woodside Energy Ltd

Dr Neil Kavanagh, Chief Science & Technology Manager, Woodside Energy Ltd

 The effectiveness of Woodside’s activity is undoubtedly a design philosophy that focuses on process and infrastructure elimination. Sean Salter used the Browse James Price Point development concept as an example. The Browse reservoirs are located several hundred kilometers from the WA coast. Using a traditional approach required a lot of additional offshore facilities such as 1,250 km of pipelines amounting to almost 20% of the original total project budget. However moving the LNG facilities offshore to the reservoirs using Shell’s Floating LNG technology eliminates the need for expensive offshore pipelines. The modular approach is utilised for the floating vessel facilities, and by using standardised design for potentially three floating vessel constructions the company applied a “design-one, build many” approach.

Professor Deborah Terry AO, Vice-Chancellor, Curtin University

Mr Mark Patterson, WA Branch Manager, Cisco Systems Australia Pty Ltd

Sean Salter also shared an insight into functionality and control from remote locations. Woodside’s subsea facilities can’t be controlled locally so they started operating facilities with remote control by necessity. However they also discovered the need for more sophisticated surveillance data. The Angel Facility represents a significant design evolution for Woodside. It’s a “Not Normally Manned” facility fully controlled remotely from North Rankin and, because it is more complex than the subsea facilities, it requires even more surveillance data to support the remote operations. This activity continues apace, and Woodside’s Pluto Support Centre represents the company’s next step on this journey of remote operations.

Mr Sean Salter, Vice President Technology, Woodside Energy Ltd

Looking to the future, Sean showed the extent of Woodside’s global footprint and the opportunities for future plant development.   He contextualised the cost challenges posed by both production and product evolvement including Shale Gas, and also competition within regional markets. Woodside’s exploration acreage is in remote regions, offshore and in deepwater and thus has a lot of similarities with Pluto, allowing current experience to be very relevant to future growth. It is only through cost effective solutions that continue to eliminate infrastructure investment, intensify process and deliver remote access control that will provide for a future competitive edge.

“We know that Innovation that is ‘Disruptive ’ is fast paced and typically doesn’t come from traditional singular relationships. Perhaps counter-intuitively, given the competitive advantage it can create, disruptive innovation often comes from open, collaborative, multi-participant relationships simply because the cadence and diversity of ideas these relationships generate.”

Mr Paul Nicholls, Director, Strategic Projects, Office of Research and Development, Curtin University

Mr Sean Salter, Vice President Technology, Woodside Energy Ltd

Woodside’s business environment requires continual innovation. The company engages in open collaboration and contributes to the broadening of the community of innovators through its Innovation and Technology Hub. With academic partners Curtin, UWA, Monash and MIT, and industry partners such as Cisco the focus of the hub is to further develop Plant of the Future, Enterprise Analytics and Ocean Engineering.

Two critical success factors for the Innovation and Technology Hub are the open collaboration approach and broad industry participation.   A great example of this within the Enterprise Analytics theme is the Woodside foundation partnership with Curtin University and Cisco in the Internet of Everything Innovation Centre (CIIC), located at Curtin and launched last month.

 

Mr Eduardo Valente, Accenture Strategy Lead WA, Accenture

Sean Salter concluded his presentation by noting that “there are stunning technologies appearing in other industries that are aligned to the design philosophies that will influence Woodside’s future plants. And whilst we don’t have the blue-print for the Plant of the Future ,at the very least, we can predict the journey to get there is going to be fast, uncomfortable & exciting.”

 Photography by Matt Jelonek

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