The digital frontier is helping industry tackle the most important barriers facing oil and gas, and anyone with potential solutions, problems to be solved, or just wanting to learn more about these issues should register for a virtual Digital Spotlight event on Dec. 1.
The Clean Resource Innovation Network (CRIN) event, in collaboration with the Petroleum Technology Alliance Canada (PTAC), will highlight key challenges such as environmental monitoring, health and safety, project execution, and production and operations excellence, as well as consider the path to creating solutions via such tools as sensors, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), analytics, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and other digital technologies (click here for more information about the event).
“One of the reasons these types of events are so important for us is that they offer a vehicle to improve our connectivity within the network,” says James Dunn, director of sustainable technology integration at Imperial Oil Limited and CRIN technology sub-committee chair. “Great ideas can come from anywhere and these events can help foster creativity through information sharing. Nobody has a patent on how you come up with an idea.”
Nannette Ho-Covernton, sustainability leader at Spartan Controls Ltd., and chair of CRIN’s digital theme outreach subcommittee, says anybody with a potential problem or solution can listen as small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) representatives present ideas at the event. She recommends members of academia register as well.
“We have a couple of [engineering, procurement and construction representatives] lined up to speak about how they work through problems using digital tools, and their results in terms of savings of time, money and footprint.”
According to David Finn, chief executive officer of Petroleum Research Newfoundland and Labrador, there are incoming energy sector innovations from all parts of the supply chain, and from all parts of the country, for CRIN’s network to help foster. He encourages everyone — startups, Tier-1 solution providers, and small firms able to innovate and implement within the digital space — to attend the upcoming Digital Spotlight event.
“I think that SMEs, researchers — whether from public or private institutions — would benefit,” he says. “It’s just part of [growing] the network, and strengthening it, because strengthening it across the country is in everyone’s interest.”
The digital connection
Referred to as a “network of networks,” CRIN is a pan-Canadian amalgamation of industry experts, entrepreneurs, investors, academia, innovators, clean-technology companies and governments.
As part of its ambition to make Canada an energy transition leader, CRIN promotes seven theme areas: water technology development; methane monitoring, quantification and abatement; novel land and wellsite remediation; novel hydrocarbon extraction; low-emissions value-added products; cleaner fuels/reducing carbon intensity; as well as digital oil and gas technology. The ‘digital’ theme area is embedded in all other theme areas, notes Dunn.
“While it’s its own theme, per se, it certainly is an area that cuts across all of the theme areas, and can offer an integral part to helping some if not all of those theme areas address some of their challenges and needs to improve operational efficiency, lower costs, and improve the carbon footprint.”
He highlights the use of UAVs for data collection, as well as the potential use of digital twins and augmented reality: “It really is integral to the success of all the themes as we move our way into the next decade and beyond.”
In terms of UAVs, Ho-Covernton says this technology enables companies to quantify, measure and monitor oilfield assets in a more cost-effective way, and with lower environmental impacts.
“Where it used to take folks a whole lot of time and resources to be able to drive out to a site, or having devices to measure, they can now actually fly over the site to be able to capture information they need to capture. Being able to take that information from the drones or cloud, and then process it, has allowed for more informed decisions.”
A pan-Canadian network
Given CRIN has a national mandate, with the flexibility and expectation of creating a pan-Canadian framework, Finn says that his Newfoundland and Labrador member-based organization is keen to support it, helping to “break down some of the silos” that can exist between various regions of the country.
“These aren’t strictly provincial boundaries. It just happens to be the nature of having an offshore industry based on the East Coast, and onshore and oilsands in Western Canada.”
Finn would encourage those in Canada’s offshore industry to attend the upcoming Digital Spotlight event, in part, as there are a lot of common technologies in offshore oil and gas production and onshore production. Communication, which is core to any network or cluster, can unearth opportunities for reducing emissions and improving operational efficiencies, he notes, which feeds into the economics for all areas of the Canadian energy sector and for potential applicability to other sectors.
He says: “For example, we are looking significantly at accelerating digitalization in our industry on the East Coast, which includes things such as remote operations and use of autonomous systems, process automation, et cetera.
“If you look past the immediate operating environment of offshore versus oilsands versus conventional production, there are lots of opportunities to understand common needs and challenges, and to try and ensure there is no reinvention of the wheel, and we’re not working in silos, and everyone understands what some of those opportunities are.”
The Digital Spotlight series
On Oct. 29, CRIN and PTAC collaborated on the first Digital Spotlight event, featuring four new and growing digital Centres of Excellence directly involved in accelerating digital technologies in Canada’s energy sector. The upcoming Dec. 1 event in this series will focus on challenges facing industry and discussing the process of identifying opportunities to tackle them by adopting proven digital solutions. This event aims to begin the process of collaboration.
“Certainly, what I am hoping comes out of these events is that it starts to create more awareness of CRIN, builds on the previous momentum of prior events, and quite frankly creates some excitement while bridging knowledge gaps within the network,” Dunn says, adding the Digital Spotlight series establishes the foundation for accelerating technology.
“What I love to get out of these events are the connections you can build, because while that initial connection might not lead to an immediate solution, it could certainly lead to a solution of a problem down the road.”
Last month, the federal government confirmed its commitment of $100 million in funding to CRIN over four years to help Canada’s oil and gas sector grow, create jobs, and reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, and improve environmental performance. According to Ho-Covernton, “everyone is very interested in how the money is going to get deployed,” which should help drive interest in the upcoming event. She says it will be a fast-paced and engaging session for all who attend.