Against a backdrop of cautious industry optimism, Malaysia’s largest oil and gas exhibition focused on positioning the country as a regional hub for talent and innovation.
“Time to shake off the rain,” was the key message in Malaysia Oil and Gas Services Council President Sharifah Zaida Nurlisha’s opening speech at the 2018 Malaysia Oil and Gas Services Exhibition and Conference (MOGSEC) held in Kuala Lumpur from 25-27 September. These were certainly welcome words to delegates from an industry that has been taking shelter for the past four years. In 2018, oil prices have averaged $72 per barrel, up from $54 per barrel in 2017. On the first day of MOGSEC came the news that that Brent oil had reached $81.16 per barrel, its highest level since November 2014.
“As encouraging as it is, we can still expect volatility to continue, given the prevailing external factors such as trade wars and other geopolitical risks,” warned Tan Sri Wan Zulkiflee, president and group chief executive of Petronas. “The business models adopted have to be robust to go through the price cycles which are inherent in our industry,” he said. In addition to price cycles, Wan Zulkiflee pointed to consumer pressure leading to policy shifts such as some Malaysian states banning plastic straws from early 2019.
Petronas announced at the show that it will partner with Time Marine Services to jointly develop a new approach for sludge treatment to recover hydrocarbon onshore. Time Marine Services was pronounced the winner of the third Petronas Technology Challenge, which crowdsources innovative and economic solutions to oil and gas industry challenges, with a proposal that featured non-toxic and environment-friendly nanotechnology chemicals, capable of liquefying sludge and heavy wax.
Artificial intelligence and IoT
According to GlobalData, Malaysia is leading South-east Asia for the total number of planned and announced oil and gas projects, yet the continuing industry emphasis on cost management, operational efficiency, and safety was still evident in the MOGSEC exhibition hall. Artificial intelligence, sensors, drones, IoT, and virtual reality headsets were all on display as solutions to maintenance and inventory challenges as well as managing the cost, health and safety, and quality of life for workers based out on remote sites.
On its stand, Siemens was showcasing an AI platform for autonomous equipment health monitoring that provides predictive tools for early warnings along with inventory management in real time. The cloud-based platform links with IoT devices to spot anomalies and recommend corrective action. It enables customers to avoid unplanned downtime and becomes a practical day-to-day tool for assisting asset operations, says Vicknendran Krishna Younee, vice president of digitalisation power services.
Among three solutions being demonstrated on the TM One stand was a digitally-connected smart helmet with audio and video capabilities that can be accessed remotely, detects accidents, and can track, locate, and communicate with individuals. Allowing for collaborative work between on- and off-site teams, the helmets transmit data in real time so that site managers can monitor whether they are actually being worn or carried around in hand. The solution was developed after a series of design thinking sessions with industry partners who cited safety, communication and remote troubleshooting as key concerns said Dr Sharlene Thiagarajah, chief executive officer for TM R&D.
Priorities for MOGSEC in 2018 were ‘catalysing regional growth’ and ‘promoting home-grown solutions’. “It is only when we build and own the technology can we customize it to the local environment,” said Thiagarajah, noting that the team had produced a minimum viable product for the helmet in less than three weeks. The goal now is to expand: “data and digital certainly lowers the barrier of entry, which gives opportunity for us to sell beyond Malaysia,” she said.
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