LNG: It Takes a Village

March 27, 2018

On March 20,  AspenTech gathered some 60 individuals together in Houston — all of them highly committed to the success of the LNG industry — to talk about recent accomplishments and future opportunities to improve the LNG value chain, both for individual companies and for the industry as an interconnected ecosystem.  


The very active group of participants represented most phases of the LNG value chain, namely, owners, EPCs, consultants/technology implementers, technology licensors and fabricators. They also comprised an interesting diversity of roles, including senior management, engineers, capital program managers, operations managers and safety compliance specialists.   


The participants reflected the full spectrum of experience, from industry veterans all the way to millennials just moving into significant managerial roles in LNG.


The impact of digital transformation all the way across the LNG value chain is an area of active discussion and some urgency. As expected, there are a wide range of views. But the level of engagement in discussion among participants was very high, reflecting the dynamic nature of the LNG marketplace today, as well as the pressure on both operators and contractors to provide the industry leadership with the agility and flexibility that they need.


Some of the themes reflected were:


Keeping Expensive LNG Assets Running. Chris Williams, of the AspenTech Asset Performance Management Services team, talked about how machine learning software (Aspen Mtell®) is increasing the reliability and uptime of LNG compressor trains    


Digitally Twinning Crucial LNG Assets. Vikas Dhole, AspenTech’s engineering solutions vice president, showed how “light” digitally enabled models online have already saved one operator millions of dollars. Inprocess Group’s Leo Carpio explained how digital dynamics models of assets can be exploited across the lifecycle for a wide range of operating benefits and safety assurance.


Reducing Time and CAPEX of LNG Projects. Kiewit’s Jason Yong discussed optimizing the LNG design process using the integrated aspenONE® Engineering suite. Vikas Dhole recapped a presentation published by ExxonMobil on how they use libraries of executed LNG assets to fast-track the design process, cutting extremely significant time and CAPEX off of new projects and speeding up time to first gas.


Shrinking the Value Chain. Mike Monteith of SES described the value to owners of having their own view of project cost estimates to improve collaboration with contractors and eliminate cost and time overruns. 


Producing at Optimum Capacity. Alex Kalafatis of AspenTech recapped how the use of Aspen DMC3™ advanced control is providing several thousand times ROI on Australian LNG assets. This is a huge profit opportunity.


C-suite executives (for example, at CERAWeek three weeks earlier, at the beginning of March) talked about the dynamics and challenges of today’s LNG marketplace. LNG attracts considerable optimism, interest and a sense of urgency. 


This business dynamism was palpable in last week’s LNG seminar. I felt  a sense of purpose from the participants.   


Many ideas were being discussed, a reflection of ongoing conversations within these companies. The successful companies, who are poised to gain a competitive advantage, have put dynamic and creative professionals at the head of their initiatives to adopt new digital technology to improve their asset-heavy businesses. It will be a combination of current technologies (such as advance process control) with new technologies (such as machine learning for maintenance and “light” engineering models online) in LNG and upstream assets.


For more information on these ideas, email me (ron.beck@aspentech.com) for copies of the materials presented at this exciting event. Or you can download our upstream digitalization white paper or our downstream white paper on digitalization.

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