Paper shredding

Elaine Maslin

August 1, 2016

A joint industry project to reduce the time and effort spent on documentation around subsea projects has given the industry food for thought. Elaine Maslin reports. 

Subsea documentation has really hit a nerve,” says Bjørn Søgård, segment director, subsea and floating production, oil and gas, business development, DNV GL.

Work by DNV GL under a joint industry project (JIP) looking into the documentation shared during subsea project engineering revealed some staggering numbers.

Between 2012 and 2015, subsea documentation increased by a factor of four, according to one contractor. Previously, a contractor in a typical subsea project would delivery around 10,000 documents, with each one averaging three revisions, resulting in up to 30,000 transactions between two actors. Today, projects can deliver 40,000 documents, with three revisions resulting in 120,000 transactions. Handling time has also doubled per revision.

The result is cash, in staff and time. The JIP addressed the issue by looking at what documents were necessary and what added cost without adding value. The idea, which resulted in a recommended practice (RP), is to define what needs to be shared, and what doesn’t, and where some documents can be standardized.

One JIP participant thinks that by adopting the subsea documentation RP, a 42% reduction in engineering hours could be delivered, by reducing reviews through reuse of documents and having more standardized documents and avoiding unnecessary reviews on non-critical documents. Another member of the JIP thought up to 70% reduction in amount of documentation could be delivered.

A draft version of the RP was used on Statoil’s Johan Sverdrup project last year. The Norwegian oil major leaned heavily on companies to comply with the RP or leave, says Roald Sirevaag, project manager for subsea standardization, boosting and compression, at UTC Bergen.

“It is a sign of what we are achieving,” Søgård says. “And, it is getting more attention than we had at the start. This industry had become expensive and inefficient. You have lots of documents shared between vendors and buyers and quite a few are ‘for information’ and quite a few for review. The buyer sends back the review documents and the vendor updates them accordingly. But the trend had become that documents for information only were also being red-lined and required updating by the supplier. This was adding complexity.”

Everything is done for the best intention but, what was happening, he says, was that although the market was growing, costs were also growing 15% year on year. In a growth period this creates more talent mobility in the market and as staff turnover increases, reducing the number of staff with knowledge of projects, which continues the cycle.

Another factor driving cost in this area has been operators adding their own requirements on top of the routines vendors were already working to, including welding procedures, forging systems, etc. In the maritime industry, this isn’t such an issue as buyers trust the yards thanks to governance procedures established by the class societies. Maritime suppliers making components know how they need to be made and how quality will be assessed,” Søgård says. “This isn’t the case in the offshore industry. We need greater governance and trust.”

The industry is taking the RP on board, however, he says, and DNV GL is also looking to take it over to the UK sector, where it is in discussion with the Efficiency Task Force, a group set up to drive efficiencies like subsea documentation standardization.

Image from iStock.