with Trond Straume, Vice President, Product Development for Enterprise Solutions, AVEVA Norway
You formerly headed up the R&D at ADB Systemer before it was acquired by AVEVA in 2010. What do you see as the contribution this made to AVEVA’s portfolio?
AVEVA has been working in the oil and gas operations domain for a long time and has a successful track record. Through the acquisition of ADB, AVEVA bought 20 years of domain expertise and software that had been proven to be successful in operations on the Norwegian Continental Shelf (NCS) as well as other places. AVEVA therefore gained a proven team and a set of software with a track record of delivering to this sector. As a consequence, AVEVA established an Oil & Gas operations Center of Excellence (CoE) in Stavanger on the back of this acquisition.
AVEVA has been at the forefront of engineering and design for many years with the company’s most well known product being PDMS (Plant Design Management System). AVEVA already had software that addressed the operations phase of a plant. The acquisition of ADB enabled AVEVA to further extend the value to plant operations customers by integrating a comprehensive Integrity Management solution.
How do you see Norway as an R&D center for the company?
Norway will remain as an important software development center, particularly in the area of operations integrity management. AVEVA has specialist development and support centers across the world, called Centers of Excellence, focusing on specific industry or market areas such as power generation and laser scanning. This allows AVEVA to blend knowledge and experience from across the organisation. One of the key benefits of the acquisition and the creation of this Stavanger CoE is that we have improved the hand-over from engineering into operations. For instance, the NCS has high regulatory requirements and clients need to ensure compliance for the engineering information that they are bringing from the project into operations, In order to minimize the cost and operational burden of this compliance obligation, our owner operator customers demand the steady transfer of the information from their contractors throughout the life of the project, rather than in bulk upon completion, making it as pain free as possible.. This is called phased handover EPCs are recognizing the importance of carefully managing their information prior to and through this phased handover and are also adopting this software. Such an approach can help the EPC make the right decisions based on the up to date information available allowing them to shorten schedules, lower costs and improve data quality prior to handover to the owner operator.
AVEVA has also learned a great deal from working with our Norwegian client base. This process cuts both ways as we learn a lot from our customers and we bring this expertise to our analysis of new problems with different clients. Our Chief Technology Officer, Dave Wheeldon, regularly points out that we have a much greater number of engineers than software developers. We approach our work from an industry angle rather than a software perspective.
Mature assets in Norway have been in production for 40 years in some cases and there are new developments in the Barents Sea. How are you targeting your operations in 2012?
In Norway, we have two main focuses in targeting our Norwegian operations and one of these is to improve the handover process. This market is typically driven by a major capital project or a revamp operation. This is where AVEVA’s software comes into its own. The second focus point is our complementary software offering for existing assets – enterprise asset management. AVEVA finds this as a very good fit for both existing and new operators.
How does AVEVA manage its approach to innovation in Norway?
Innovation across the company is driven by the customers’ needs that AVEVA sees in the field and observing their day-to-day challenges. AVEVA in Norway sees this market as the opportunity to benchmark our software against the highest standards and procedures. The increasing number of HS&E requirements from authorities and demands for work permits and safe job analysis is actually often due to incidents from on other continental shelves.
There are production regions in the world that do not have anywhere near the same standards as you see on the NCS, and therefore the demands on engineering solutions and operating are very different. Are some of these high standards necessary in other markets?
The requirements that are standard in Norway are becoming increasingly commonplace throughout the rest of the world but regional demands do vary, and areas like the UK and Australia require different, risk-based approaches . That said, many of AVEVA’s customers have paid great attention to what has been done in Norway and the practices that are carried out on the NCS. The big companies operating in Norway are typically also operating all over the world, and so the requirements on the NCS are now becoming increasingly used in other locations. Norway is certainly looking to lead the way and the big players out there may continue to standardize across the globe.
You said that you have a large base of engineers in the company compared to IT. There is quite a shortage of engineers in Norway, how is the labour market in terms of IT specialists?
In general there is a shortage of personnel across the entire sector. That being said, good people are always available in the market; it is just a matter of finding them. In order to attract people in Norway you need to provide something additional as an employer. You need to have great products and services and you need to take care of your employees, especially considering the current market growth.
What would you like to see developing in the Norwegian market from a software provider perspective?
I would like to see more use of 3D imaging by operators, particularly the Evergreen digital plant where there is great potential. Another challenge on the NCS is to obtain the benefits from integrated operations, particularly by having more people working onshore rather than offshore, especially considering discussions in the media about offshore labour costs. Supporting the use of good technology and using digital representation of the plant in 3D will provide a more stable future for both onshore and offshore operations.
There are quite a few places that have demonstrated that integrated operations are bringing a lot of value already, although there is still more work to be done in this field..
How do you see the next few years for AVEVA in Norway?
Having lived in Stavanger, the oil and gas industry has been a driver for technology for Norway and the whole region for many years. The industry has a strict commitment to safety policies, reliability and delivering continuous value. As a company with a strong heritage of satisfying these operational requirements for our clients, I believe this makes AVEVA attractive and in-demand.
The oil industry has created a need and demand to become more effective. Utilizing software is a great opportunity to make a significant difference. I am now quite interested in how telecommunications – one of my previous industries – and oil and gas have grown in similarities in terms of the way they operate and use software. In integrated operations, telecommunications are a vital element in enabling their operations. The idea of collaboration between industries is becoming more and more relevant.
AVEVA is a British company. How do you find translating the business culture into a Norwegian setting?
Looking at the history and how the NCS was explored and developed, Norway was heavily influenced by Americans and British. With the close link to Aberdeen, there is quite an international culture. Really, there is not a great difference between Stavanger and Aberdeen. Individuals within the company in the two cities collaborate a great deal, so perhaps it is more of an oil and gas culture rather than a national one.
It is a mature organization with operational excellence as a key focus. AVEVA has been in Norway since 1989 and we are going to continue working with an adherence to excellent standards. It has been a great journey helping to establish AVEVA in the oil and gas capital of Norway.