Digital Business from GE Oil & Gas Launches with Key Partnerships

Jan. 29, 2016
Detailing a digital pilot program with BP and a software partnership with subsurface expert Paradigm, GE is proving out the software proposition of its oil and gas business.

In a flurry of related news—a pilot program with BP, an additional software partnership, and a new division to manage it all—GE Oil & Gas is showing the strength and depth of its digital proposition.

GE’s CEO Jeff Immelt likes to talk about the need for industrial companies to become software companies. At the GE Minds + Machines conference last fall in San Francisco, he clarified: “I don’t really consider GE a software company per se. But we’re a company that needs to be based in software going forward.”

To that end, GE invested more than $1 billion on its Predix cloud platform, and is determined to go after business outside the GE group. The new Oil & Gas Digital Solutions business is the latest move by GE to make good on that promise.

“Digitization has become not only a competitive differentiator but, increasingly, a necessity,” said Lorenzo Simonelli, CEO of GE Oil & Gas. “We are evolving our business and digital offerings to match the needs of our customers, partnering with them to embrace the transition and help make their businesses stronger long term.”

Matthias Heilmann—who most recently led ABB’s Global Product Group Enterprise Software business—has been appointed head of the new business and chief digital officer, overseeing the development of digital capabilities around Predix, GE’s cloud platform for the Industrial Internet, to drive asset and operations optimization for the oil and gas industry.

As a demonstration of those optimization capabilities, GE is partnering with BP to create a digital solution for reducing unplanned downtime at BP’s offshore operations in the Gulf of Mexico. The solution aims to increase facility reliability by looking holistically at the process level—introducing new process surveillance and predictive analytic tools to provide early warnings of potential facility issues.

“As we move to a digital world in the oil and gas industry, we look to digital technologies to help us move to the next level of operational excellence,” said Dave Feineman, senior advisor on digital technology for BP’s Upstream Technology organization. “These digital technologies offer the opportunity to collaboratively develop industry-leading solutions to address some of the most significant challenges in field operations.”

The solution will use GE’s Asset Performance Management (APM) software and Predix to provide analytical insights at enterprise scale through knowledge sharing on demand. Process engineers will be able to eliminate disruptions by being proactive and analyzing problems more efficiently.

Oil reservoir insights

GE has been forming a variety of partnerships to help develop the right software solutions for the Internet of Things (IoT). As part of the company’s plan to deliver this latest digital suite, GE Oil & Gas has also announced a partnership with Paradigm, an independent software developer for the oil and gas industry.

The partnership aims to combine Paradigm’s subsurface knowledge with GE’s production intelligence. Reservoir Driven Production Optimization (RDPO) runs Paradigm’s modeling and petrochemical services on GE’s Predix to create an upstream solution for optimizing field-level production.

Particularly with the low price of oil, it has become more important than ever to maximize the life of existing reservoirs while reducing operating costs. Improving problem detection and treatment design can reduce operational costs by 10-25 percent, according to GE, through fewer interventions and more efficient use of resources. RDPO provides a clearer understanding of the reservoir geology, permanent monitoring of wells and predictive analytics.

Although these days operators typically have access to increasing amount of real-time production data such as pressures and flow rates, that doesn’t mean they have the right analysis to gain the best understanding. RDPO enables a better understanding of the data, helping engineers conduct nodal analyses and evaluate diagnostics via links to a 3D model of the subsurface.

“Today, production engineers often rely on single-well analysis to make production decisions that have field-wide impact,” said Arshad Matin, Paradigm’s CEO. “Partnering with GE, we can now provide a unified view of both production and reservoir data for optimal decision-making.”

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