Meeting the challenge

Published:  01 April, 2014

Lying in one of the most challenging operating environments, harvesting the North Sea oil & gas fields has driven engineering development in both the construction and operation of production facilities. Managing the huge quantities of disparate information required to safely and efficiently operate these complex facilities is a considerable challenge that can only be met using powerful Information Management technology, in the form of an Enterprise Asset Management system (EAM, also sometimes referred to as a Computerised Maintenance Management or CMM system.) ODEE takes a special look at AVEVA’s WorkMate technology which has been adopted by AMEC.

In 2008, AMEC, one of the world’s leading engineering, project management and consultancy companies, with more than 40 years of experience working in the North Sea, was awarded the role of duty holders for Fairfield Energy’s Dunlin A platform. At the same time, they selected AVEVA WorkMate as an EAM solution to support their operations. AVEVA WorkMate was specifically created for managing the maintenance, operational, and HSE data associated with offshore facilities.

To learn more about AMEC’s practical experiences in using the technology, we visited their Aberdeen headquarters and spoke with several of their senior operations professionals.

Material benefits

Just as battles are won more by logistics than by tactics, so too does asset operation depend primarily on sustaining the efficient supply of a wide range of materials. Integrated materials management capabilities are therefore essential for operating the Dunlin platform. Rosey Cox, of AVEVA told ODEE that its WorkMate enables AMEC to order materials from anywhere in the world and to track their delivery from source, through AMEC’s Aberdeen depot to their final disposition on the platform itself. This powerful supply management system provides AMEC with complete visibility of where goods are at any time, and when they are due at any location. Potential delays can be identified early and corrected before they become a problem. Where delays cannot be recovered, this clear visibility of the entire supply chain enables AMEC to take informed action to reduce any impact on operations.


Continual maintenance and repair is a necessary element of operations but shutdowns are costly. Planning and preparing for an optimised planned shutdown is a highly complex process; as many tasks as possible must be carefully coordinated to minimise its duration and the resulting loss of revenue. AVEVA says its WorkMate is designed to ease this process, integrating with other systems to ensure sufficient and reliable information is used to plan and prepare for each shutdown. It also enables the advanced planning and preparation of tasks that can take advantage of any unplanned downtime.

AMEC’s shutdown coordinator, Jim Barber, commented on the technology: “WorkMate is absolutely critical for a well-planned and prepared shutdown. In years gone by we used spreadsheets, which worked, but it is so much more effective. Planning and preparation has moved into a new era. The benefits from using it are quite important as we have everything in one place. We have the task details and the Resources and the maths behind that, that actually tells us the duration of the shutdown in terms of planning. We can export these task and work order details straight from WorkMate across to P6 for planning; that's absolutely perfect in terms of scheduling.” Planning maintenance effectively and executing it on schedule is vital also because of the requirement for materials. Not only is materials provisioning to remote offshore locations time consuming and costly, there is also very limited storage space on site. Efficient task coordination must be accompanied by equally efficient scheduling of materials deliveries.

Shaune Burdon, maintenance team lead at AMEC, explained: ‘WorkMate is very important to maintenance planning on Dunlin. When we are planning maintenance, we need to know that we are executing work at the right time, when we have equipment outages, to avoid impacting production. We need to make sure we have the right people in place at the right time and that the work is ready to execute. WorkMate's very good at that. I've got all the information I need at my fingertips to be sure that the jobs work together, and that the right materials are in place ready for people with the right qualifications and skills for each particular job. Without an integrated CMMS the work would be a lot slower.’

Safety and compliance

Risk management is a fact of life in the oil & gas industry and made all the more essential for the increased risks inherent in maintenance work. Cox said that AVEVA’s technology is designed to help manage such risks effectively and maximise operational safety by enabling team managers to monitor the status of all pending and in-progress work and to maximise their teams’ productivity, Shaune Burdon as maintenance team leader on Dunlin has to monitor all on-going work, explained he can find which tasks are over-running and are a threat to the work not being completed on time: “I can make sure that all safety-critical work is closed out on time, that we fulfil our HSE responsibilities, and that the integrity of the platform is maintained.”

In 2010 AMEC commissioned an independent review of its maintenance strategy for electrical equipment in potentially explosive atmospheres – its EX strategy. EX strategy is a critical safety issue that is subject to regulatory control, so a robust and well-executed EX strategy is essential. The review recommended that AMEC adopt a risk-based assessment methodology, which also could be supported by WorkMate.

Grace Baxter, maintenance manager at AMEC, concludes: “We would no longer need to use spreadsheets; we could use WorkMate to produce reports and we could manage the data within it. This reduces the potential for errors outside of WorkMate and means that we have more accurate reporting and better coverage. By using it to manage the data more efficiently we have been able to make a considerable reduction in our offshore man-hours commitment to the EX strategy, along with reducing the clerical effort onshore.”

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