Aker BP CEO Karl Johnny Hersvik made a bold statement recently during Norwegian Oil and Gas’ Moment 18 conference.

Wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the words “Data Liberation Front,” Hersvik spoke about how the E&P business needed to change and innovate to survive, including making better use of data it gathers and generates.

Cognite, which gifted Hersvik the T-shirt, has a team called the Data Liberation Front, which it says is fundamental concept centred on liberating data from its silos. For Hersvik, “Data becomes more and more valuable the more we share [it].” Vendors in the oil and gas industry hope more operators will take the same view.

Companies from U.S.-based global services firm Cognizant and Swiss-headquartered multinational ABB to newer, smaller firms like Norway-based Arundo Analytics are hungry to add value by helping oil and gas operators do more with their data.

For example, working together, ABB and 3-year-old analytics business Arundo have come up with a virtual flow meter service. It makes use of existing data to give flow-rate estimates where wells do not have multiphase flow meters. DNV GL’s MyQRA tool will make use of existing data to better analyze risk, and Fuglesangs Subsea will use pump temperature and speed data to maintain and improve the performance and condition of pumps. The data can even be used to feed back into new, better designs.

With more data, such as about how equipment is performing, vendors can see the opportunity for a new business model. “Give us your data and we can offer you performance-based contracts instead of selling you equipment and after sales services,” they say.

The challenge has been getting access to the data they need.

“Everyone believes that keeping the data secret is their competitive advantage and it’s not,” , Niels Didrich Buch, head of Cognizant Oil & Gas, said during the Subsea Valley conference in March. The first challenge is changing the mindset. The second is coming up with standard platforms on which to share data to fully realize the potential.

ABB believes the mindset is changing. In 2007 the company set up a collaborative center, but operators wanted their own centers “because it’s their data; they wanted their own solution,” said  Borghild Lunde, senior vice president and head of business unit for oil, gas and chemicals in ABB’s Norwegian Hub. ABB now has 10 centers dedicated to customers, she said during Subsea Valley.

“Now the customers are opening up to share more data, do more benchmarking and learn from each other,” she said. “Interest is growing and at the same time the platforms on which asset management tools can be built are growing in capability.”  

With access to the data, analysis can be done straight away. “That’s about trust,” said Espen Storkaas, vice president, industry sector digital lead for upstream, oil, gas and chemicals at ABB. Before, a report would be written or a power point sent. With the ABB Ability platform, everything can be done and shared from the same platform, which the operator and vendors can have access to, and analysis can be used in scenarios to see how it would impact other facilities, he says.

ABB Ability is the company’s process performance dashboard, which has been embedded into the company’s collaborative operations center in Oslo. ABB Ability connects devices and sensors with automation systems and plant and enterprise solutions, all of which can be accessed in the cloud for analysis solutions.

But it’s not just about big firms. “By sharing data we can generate more value and small companies can work with the largest companies in the industry,” said Mogens L. Mathiesen, a co-founder of Arundo and its commercial lead. “In software, it’s not size; it’s speed and willingness to share.”

Arundo, which has a former Statoil CEO and former Shell CTO on its board, is working with ABB to provide a virtual, cloud-based flow meter service. This will combine ABB’s experience in modeling flows of individual phases of various intermingled fluids in a single stream with Arundo’s analytics capabilities, real-time, in the cloud.

Arundo is also working with Norwegian pump specialist Fuglesangs Subsea on a digital pump solution to aid monitoring and maintenance of pumps. “Pumps have been run using analogue only data for years,” said Fuglesangs Subsea CEO Alexander Fuglesangs. They’re also run in silos, which separate condition monitoring and supervisory control and data acquisition/programmable logic controller data, despite performance being related to system health. “Think about a FitBit; the heartbeat shows the health of the person. It is frustrating to us that these are not integrated [in subsea pump monitoring],” Fuglesangs said.

Bringing this data into one system and adding analytic capability would create an opportunity to better maintain pumps and build an alternative business model such as performance-based contracts where a client pays for the service, not the equipment, just as airlines pay for engine uptime, not the engines themselves.

Giving an example of how these two areas are linked, Fuglesangs said that work to reduce erosion on a pump using a coating increased performance 7.1% and meant 9.2% lower power use, with a 10-month pay back. “Erosion means lower performance, but traditionally these two worlds are not linked,”Fuglesangs said. With the data and an analytics platform, “you can look at how things work together across a system.

“The key is to get access to what we need, i.e. temperature and speed data, to give us insight into what’s happening,” added Fuglesangs. “The real benefit is taking part in the benefit, i.e. the profit, through performance-based contracts.” That’s something that cannot be done if a vendor cannot be sure that equipment is not being operated outside its limit. “Having access to the data is the first step,” he said. “You could then sell per cu.  m or kw rather than selling the pumps.”

Similar to the virtual flow meter example, analytics can also detect issues that sensors cannot, like cavitation in the pump. Cavitation is the formation of bubbles or cavities in liquid, which can cause damage to the pump and cannot otherwise be detected by a sensor, Mathiesen said.

It’s not just about optimizing equipment. ABB Ability can be used to optimize the performance of wells, for example. DNV GL’s MyQRA uses data to better model risk. Koheila Molazemi, global service area leader, risk management advisory, DNV GL, MyQRA (quantitative risk assessments), said data needs to be used better; creating more data is not needed.

MyQRA takes information about ship traffic, manning, hot work permits and other data, analyzes it and then offers an output, which is a better understanding of safety risk, including cumulative risk when several barriers are degraded. But there are issues, namely, a lack of access to data or good data, lack of understanding of what data means, and too much data.

There’s still some way to go to crack open the data repositorie; however,  some operators have seen the benefits to joining the Data Liberation Front. Such a move could also create new business models for vendors and new entrants. For Malcolm Frank, executive vice president and chief strategic officer for Cognizant, this is the bigger picture. He pointed out that different competitive models are being created such as Uber.

“Different competitive models create new customer propositions across different price points and this is running rampant across all industries. Oil and gas is late to the game. It started in media, the entertainment industry, with Netflix, then finance and then Amazon,” Frank said. The fourth industrial revolution, led by artificial intelligence and “the bot,” is now underway, he said. Who is ready to join the Data Liberation Front and be part of the fourth industrial revolution?