The Increasing Popularity of Digital Twins in Oil and Gas
A digital twin is a virtual representation of a physical object or system.
The twin can receive inputs from sensors that are gathering data from their real-world counterpart.
This allows the twin to stimulate the physical object in real time, offering insights into performance and potential problems.
Extracting Value From Digital Twins
Oil and gas companies can leverage digital twin technology to see how a process or system is working, to create an analytical what-if model, or to build a predictive what-will model.
Digital twins can reduce the time needed to estimate project parameters. It can also help to improve concept selection decisions by holistic well-to-export visualizations.
Oil and gas companies can incorporate digital twins into subsea production systems and SURF (subsea umbilicals, risers and flowlines). Digital twins can conduct asset simulation dry runs to optimize asset value, such as improving tradeoffs between operating and capital expenditure. It can also speed up the process of testing alternative concepts by using parametric net-present value models and reduce the time required to interpret data and generate prospects using AI-assisted image recognition.
Such benefits have been attracting oil and gas operators across the globe to explore digital twin technology and some majors have shown significant interest in the past two years.
Big Players Using Digital Twins To Optimize Efficiency
BP developed a highly sophisticated simulation and surveillance system called APEX, which has been implemented to create virtual models of all its production systems. APEX allows BP to plan changes and interventions in the digital twin before employing them in the real world. As a surveillance tool, it identifies issues before they have major effects on production.
In 2017, APEX delivered 30,000 barrels of additional oil and gas a day across BP’s global portfolio. The conventional simulation method usually takes several hours. However, APEX can perform the same simulation in just a few minutes, and the effect of potentially hazardous operations can be assessed in the safe environment of a virtual world.
Petrobras installed digital twin technology in 11 of its refineries, allowing it to evaluate and modify operational parameters almost in real time. This helped the company enhance operational gains and process optimization while saving around $154 million.
Huge Potential Beyond Savings
The oil and gas sector has been slow in adopting digital twins. Only a handful of major companies have started to invest in this technology. However, with advancements in digital twin technology growing, its use is expected to become crucial for businesses considering volatile and uncertain market scenarios in the oil and gas sector.
The adoption of digital twins is being driven by its cost saving potential. In the North Sea, deploying digital twins in offshore oil and gas projects could save more than 2 million euros on project costs for assets with topsides of 10,000 tons, which increases to more than 8.5 million euros for assets with topsides up to 40,000 tons. Digital twins and smart data systems could help oil and gas operators save between 9% to 15% on total decommissioning project cost.
Gartner predicts that half of major industrial applications will be using digital twins by 2021, potentially increasing their operational effectiveness by 10%. It’s only a matter of time before we see industrywide adoption of digital twins across the globe.
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Santosh has over 12 years of experience managing large-scale procurement transformation engagements for leading Fortune 500 companies.
At GEP, he’s responsible for developing new products and services by incorporating complex aspects of mobile interfaces, social media, cloud computing and big data.LET'S TALK
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