Intelligent Systems

ONGC leverages technology solutions to remotely manage operations

The Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) is the largest producer of crude oil and natural gas in the country and contributes about 61 per cent to domestic production. Over the years, it has established a strong footprint in the upstream and downstream oil and gas segments by developing significant onshore and offshore facilities. However, as the oil and gas industry is capital intensive and complex, it poses several challenges which at times hamper operations. To this end, ONGC has deployed several  information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) solutions. Enterprise resource planning (ERP) for optimising and standardising business processes, SCADA for real-time monitoring of pipelines and rigs, and the implementation of paperless system for complete digitalisation of processes are some of the key initiatives. These solutions have helped ONGC in quick decision-making besides ensuring cost optimisation. However, the convergence of these systems on to an integrated platform is currently lacking and this can compromise the credibility of operations by exposing data to cyberattacks. Therefore, an integrated platform through which the future scenario can be effectively predicted is the need of the hour.

Key initiatives

ONGC is using several industrial control systems to improve decision-making and optimise processes. ERP, for instance, has been introduced as part of the Information Consolidation for Efficiency [ICE] Project for enabling standardisation of business processes. Under this project, a complete ERP package comprising 23 modules such as mySAP Oil and Gas Upstream for joint venture accounting and for the management of production sharing agreement and offshore logistics, mySAP Strategic Enterprise Management and mySAP Product Lifecycle Management have been installed in over 500 offices of ONGC. Other modules for corporate financial management, business intelligence, supplier relationship management and enterprise portals (workplace) have also been incorporated. This IT-based system facilitates availability of information on a real-time basis and eliminates duplication of activities across business processes by capturing data at source. This, in turn, aids quick decision making, better operation control and efficient cost management. The contract for the project was awarded to SAP AG.

ONGC implemented an enterprise-wide paperless office project called DISHA. The initiative, which is in line with the Digital India programme, aims to eliminate fraud at all levels within ONGC. As part of the project, paperless Office solution35 has been introduced for which the contract was awarded to L&T Infotech with IBM’s Filenet and business process management used as technology platform. Another smart solution, SCADA has been deployed to remotely monitor, control and manage geographically dispersed production and drilling facilities, oil basins, processing plants, forward bases and other assets. These assets are linked to the corporate data centre via terminal units and sensors, which transmit data on a real-time basis thereby enabling faster decision-making and reducing response time.

Apart from this, initiatives such as computing systems for seismic data, invoice monitoring system, grievance management and vigilance portal have been introduced. Advanced well monitoring system having satellite data transmission and communication facility has also been deployed for real-time monitoring of progress on drilling works by geoscientists. ONGC has also set up 3D virtual reality centres called “Third Eye” for real-time supervision of oil and gas fields. Recently, ONGC unveiled plans of foraying into new technology streams such as artificial intelligence by setting up a venture funding corpus.

Conclusion

ONGC as well as other operators are increasingly relying on IT and OT technologies for optimising operations. However, currently, all these technologies are working in isolation and their convergence is essential for ensuring greater control over distributed systems and safeguarding critical data. Therefore, a holistic approach towards the integration of all industrial control systems on to a single platform is required. To this end, ONGC is planning to deploy big data analytics to generate insights from the data accumulated from various systems. This will allow ONGC to take timely action and increase efficiency. Other countermeasures such as understanding potential enterprise risk, regular maintenance and upgrade of IT and OT systems (as systems are vulnerable to cyberattacks) instead of doing it over a timeline of 10-12 years, and cross-training of personnel to operate both IT and OT devices are essential to shift from the risk mitigation approach to the predictive maintenance approach.

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