Will Collaboration Suffer When the Market Returns?
23rd August 2016
By: Andy Low
More often than not as I travel the globe, I hear individuals say that we are not collaborating or there is a lack of innovation in the oil and gas industry. I find this difficult to comprehend because, as an industry, we’ve had to innovate to succeed in delivering the world’s foremost energy resource from some of the harshest and most remote areas the world has to offer. We collaborate all of the time. Some of the toughest industry problems have been solved through teams and companies working together. I am not going to spend time in this brief article on the innovation subject, more on that later; but rather turn my attention to the much debated topic of collaboration.
Collaboration is the process of two or more people or organizations working together to realize mutual goals. Collaboration is very similar to, but more closely aligned than cooperation, and both are an opposite of competition. Based on this simple definition, I ask the question - do we really collaborate? My view from the advisory/consultancy arena is yes we do. Just recently, industry analysis from Deloitte indicated that collaboration is on the increase in the North Sea and that operators are more open to engage supply chain and service companies earlier in projects. Globally, multiple collaborative projects exist within the R&D space and technology development arena; one only needs to look at projects run through forums such as Deepstar, PRCI, RPSEA, and organizations like NERA, RDC Newfoundland, O&G UK to get insights into activities. In fact it is hard to list all parties in this space.It is clear that greater innovation is coming from service companies, as the majority of operators are increasingly focused on driving costs out of their businesses. As a result, they are content on coordinating, buying, and applying technology. They are upgrading their procurement organizations to access technology rather than develop in-house. The challenge for those of us engaged in the technology development and implementation space is making sure operators adopt the appropriate technologies. They must have confidence in the qualification process, while knowing that safety standards have not been compromised and the risks have been mitigated and understood. Operators also need to clearly understand the value that the new technology brings. Overall, we must work with operators to ensure they use technology strategies and adopt appropriate solutions which best suit their organization. Collaboration is therefore key, as a “one size fits all” approach will not always apply. We must collaborate to innovate and deliver results for all parties involved.
Taking a collaborative approach to driving cost efficiencies or developing new solutions allows for an improved cost model. The operator, often seen as the sole cash contributor, no longer needs to be relied upon to fund the entire activity as cost and risk are shared by all involved. Collaborative activities should also benefit the whole industry. A move away from closed forum Joint Industry Projects (JIPs) and towards more open source activities will help everyone. Perhaps we should take a leaf out of the tech and entertainment industry and use Kickstarter!
INTECSEA recently reviewed how technology contributed to its business, and as a result has successfully focused efforts on increasing external collaboration through development of new offerings to the market. This includes offerings such as FlexIQ and Reservoir to Market (R2M) via strategic alliances with Innospection and KBC Process Technology, respectively. We are also increasing collaboration through a new portfolio of focused affordable Open Collaborative Projects (OCPs) where results are open; much like freeware in the software development space. These OCPs have been developed to support current industry requirements. These projects have arisen from in depth consultation with numerous organizations, all of whom share a common aim - collaboration.
Additional effort has been made to look beyond the hydrocarbon shores and to bring technologies in-house from other industry sectors; this includes game changing technology such as FLEXAS™, developed in the aerospace sector and applied by NASA. FLEXAS is becoming a leading-edge numerical solver in our industry. The approach utilizes detailed 3D finite element models, which represent precise geometries, eliminating the need for numerically simplified models, and providing the required accuracy to assess the true margins of structural designs.
I believe we have always collaborated well as an industry, albeit more apparent these last few years driven by the lower for longer oil price. That said, I hope we all continue to further improve and develop collaboration activities as part of our businesses. We must not let this recent uptick in collaboration, born from the industry’s need to survive, fall victim to another market upswing. As an industry, we have the opportunity to permanently change and not fall back to the closed door innovation practices of the past. So, will collaboration suffer when the market recovers? That is up to all of us. I know INTECSEA will continue to be at the forefront of promoting and creating collaboration.
If interested to know more on the OCP portfolio or any of the topics discussed above, please email us at email@example.com or contact me directly at Andrew.Low@intecsea.com.
 Marinez-Moyano, I. J. Exploring the Dynamics of Collaboration in Interorganizational Settings, Ch. 4, p. 83, in Schuman (Editor). Creating a Culture of Collaboration Jossey-bass, 2006
 Collaborate, Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary, 2007
 Collaboration, Encyclopedia Britannica Online, 2007
 Collaboration, Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition, (1989). (Eds.) J. A. Simpson & E. S. C. Weiner. Oxford: Oxford University Press