Integrated Operations

Helge Andersen is Task Manager for audiovisual and multimedia for Norwegian based oil & gas firm StatoilHydro. Following a recent visit to Norway, InAVate magazine was given exclusive insight into how the company approaches its AV technology, and how it’s used on a global basis.

Describe your responsibilities within the company.

We are responsible for audiovisual solutions and support for everything from ordinary meeting rooms, to collaboration rooms, operation support rooms, control rooms, emergency rooms and so on. I provide a production line of standard solutions, which enable people to recognise all the control systems throughout the company – it’s a standardised user interface for all these rooms.

Does that extend to standard equipment?

Basically we have standardised all of the components. The difference is that we might have a small matrix or a large matrix dependent on the size of the room. The matrix is still from the same producer.

The user experience is based on the standard equipment, applications and tools as you have in your own office. You will meet almost the same standards entering a collaboration room or a meeting room as you would in all other sites in Statoilhydro. The only difference is that in the meeting/collaboration rooms, you will have several PC’s that can be displayed on one or several large screens.

Statoil and Hydro merged in October last year. Statoil had complete standardisation across its assets, and we are now working on harmonisation between the two companies, to change the interface on the old Hydro systems to the StatoilHydro standard.

But that’s not our major task. The major task now is standardisation internationally – we have operations in forty countries. This project is actually broken into several smaller projects running concurrently. There is one project called Integrated Locations, with a focus on developing ways of collaborating between the different offices in a meeting environment. We also have a project that’s looking into collaboration and visualisation, via large screen hi-resolution solutions, in the same operational space.

Whilst involved in the pre-study for what we need, we will be looking to combine our advanced meeting rooms, collaboration rooms and visualisation rooms into the same suite. Instead of having two or three different room types, which will only be used once or twice a week, we can make a new, more efficiently used space.

What other parts of the business is AV technology used in?

Well one major movement in the Oil & Gas business is towards what we call integrated operations, which essentially means using technology to move functions away from the platforms and rigs onto the shore. You can sit and monitor the well valves, and pressure and all the rest in real time remotely. You can take one engineer into an office onshore and monitor the data from three or four platforms at once.

What technologies have made this possible now?

The key things are more bandwidth, and more reliable bandwidth, as well as more robust components such as videoconferencing and also less latency in the network. You no longer get delays in data that really needs to be monitored in real time. For instance in oil production, you pump mud down the well, and monitor the pressure of it, and you can also monitor the output. If there are differences, then you regulate, but you need true real time data to do it. We now have fibre networks on some of the platforms and high bandwidth connections between the platforms off shore, allowing us good real time data, as well as good videoconferencing and collaboration solutions.

What is the most important factor when you are considering technology?

It’s reliability and quality of service. We don’t make a single solution with thinking about redundancy both on the networks and on the equipment side. Also we have support on each site, so we don’t have to ship people out for the repair of a PC or projector, we have trained people on each site to help out with audiovisual systems. I have one framework agreement with a company who installs our solutions, and a second one with a company, which does our maintenance and also runs our AV and IT systems.

Do you make much use of IP technologies in your AV environment?

In terms of content delivery we still make use of the matrix based systems, we will be examining some network solutions over the next year or so that might make it into our production line in the future. However, at this time we don’t use projectors connected to IP to display images or similar.

On the monitoring side, in all of our new installations the projectors and control systems are all provided with an IP address and we have a centralised monitoring station here in Stavanger for the world-wide operation. We have a group of people, which sits and monitors the AV installations allowing us to be more proactive in our maintenance and minimise downtime.

Are their any issues for you around AV at the moment?

One of the issues we have is that the current trend of projection and display formats is towards 16:9. We don’t think that this is actually the most useful for us. For the oil & gas and industrial markets I believe 16:10 is actually a more important format. Basically the computer graphics cards we use support 1920 x 1200, not 1920 x 1080. We see that there are now several format types depending on what monitor you use – desktop, or laptop or what have you. There are several resolutions and formats. We believe that the 16:10 is best because it covers all the formats below it. It is much more satisfactory than trying to squeeze 1200 pixels into a 1080 display. We are thinking about the readability, which is a big issue for StatoilHydo.

What is the level of expenditure you are making on AV technology?

Well I started this area four years ago. We needed to look into integrated operations as an initiative. I started with 5,000,000 NOK (about 630,000 Euros) as an investment in 2004. The following year we spent 30,000,000, in 2006 we spent 60,000,000 and last year we passed 100 million NOK. My prognosis for 2008-2009 is 220MNOK and that’s before we start our international standardisation programme. It’s basically doubling each year, but hopefully by the end of this year we will have completed the major investments.

How it works within the company is that I invest, and install the rooms, and then internally they are rented from us by the other business units. We operate an internal market within StatoilHydo, with six different business areas.

This increase in investment is also matched by investment in staff for my team. I started with two guys in Stavanger on the AV, now there are twelve there in addition we have between five and ten people on each other site in Norway. By the first of January next year, our new enterprise will cover all StatoilHydro locations worldwide.

How does StatoilHydro compare to its peers?

Actually, all of our co-partners in the business follow our standards. That’s why I say we are at the leading edge in terms of both solutions, and also developing new work processes for the businesses. As our CEO Helge Lund said at the Intelligent Energy fair in Amsterdam, we have a very strong focus on this.

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