Powering oil and gas with the 3DEXPERIENCE

DassaultPhilippe Audrain, business development and consultant director, Energy & Materials, Dassault Systèmes speaks to Oil Review Middle East about the company’s 3DEXPERIENCE industrial software platform

While the Dassault name is well known in the Middle East through its association with aviation and military jets, Dassault Systèmes is now making inroads in the region with its 3DEXPERIENCE industrial software platform. “Several years ago the company defined a different way of selling its software technologies, identifying 11 industries for which it has developed specific targeted software solutions, one being energy and materials,” says Audrain by way of background.  “This one covers five segments: mining; metals and minerals; oil and gas; chemicals; and power.” 

Explaining the connection between energy and materials, he points out that all five segments have energy and materials components. Petroleum for example represents close to 100 per cent of the energy used for global transportation, while natural gas is the main source of industrial heat to make commodities such as glass, steel and cement. Fertilisers, plastics and fabrics are also derived from oil and gas, as are petrochemicals.

“The strategy led by our CEO is to target sustainability, to help our customers to be sustainable and cope with the challenges related to climate change, and to promote positive messages of the oil industry in the face of climate change pressures,” he says.

So how is the company promoting value in the oil and gas industry? Discussing the business model of the industry today, Audrain says, “Most oil and gas companies have facilities to transform crude into sellable products. There is an ecosystem of contractors to build and maintain these facilities, which  produce mostly commodity products, either gasoline or similar for transportation, or added value products with petrochemicals production capabilities. They need to distribute them through dedicated channels down to their customers, many of them being end users in gas stations. With our solutions we are improving several key aspects of the model – from optimising capital projects to enhancing plant operation efficiency, to providing a better value proposal to reduce costs of crude oil derivative products, improving base products, distribution and transport, and the relationship of the ecosystem with contractors.”

Three families of solutions

This is addressed through an extended solutions portfolio, comprising three main families. 

“The first family focuses on the lifecyle of production facilities from the design and construction of these facilities, which involve huge CAPEX, improving the return on these projects by delivering those on time, on budget and with the right quality, to improving operational efficiency during operations and maintenance.  This is our core offering today, as we have key differentiators compared to our competitors to enable digital continuity all along the asset life.”

Audrain sees particularly good prospects for this family given the current industry turmoil and the reluctance of operators to invest in major new capital projects. “Capital projects are more and more pain points for this industry; we are in discussions with all major Oil&Gas companies, they have faced difficulties on previous capital projects and are looking to do things a different way. The big engineering companies are also having a tough time with the reluctance of their customers to start new projects. The message we are trying to convey, both to the operators and the major EPCs in the Middle East, is the need to change capital project management paradigm to increase efficiency in both projects and operations. Those who do this in current difficult times are the ones who will gain when times get better. Some of them have taken this on board, and are investing with us even if it is a difficult time for them.”

“One of the solutions we have embodied into this family, and which is used by a number of oil and gas operators in the Middle East, is DELMIA Quintiq, which focuses on supply chain optimisation,” he continues. The aim here is to enable operators to deliver reliable and predictable performance. This encompasses sales and operations planning, master production scheduling, production scheduling and transportation planning. It could for example focus on a masterplan optimisation for one facility or one set of facilities, right down to the scheduling of daily activities in a single facility.

The second family focuses on the lifecycle of geological assets. “A key part of the capital value of any oil and gas company is their oil & gas reserves, how to make them sustainable, use them at the right time, increase recovery etc.,” Audrain explains. “Our Unified Reservoir solution complements well known legacy solutions from Schlumberger, Halliburton and others. We have an interesting footprint, and while we are not a major player in this area, we offer unique value.  

“The third family concerns innovational materials – how to innovate on new materials and end products to address new markets, innovate on additives and catalysts to improve refinery operations. “

Saudi Aramco is a major player and a key priority for the company in the Middle East. In October  Dassault Systemes signed an MoU with Saudi Aramco to partner on 4IR technologies and advanced materials across five domains.

While the Dassault Systèmes name has opened doors in other industries such as aerospace, the company has had to demonstrate that it was providing value in petroleum, he adds.

Key differentiators

So what sets the company apart from its competitors? “The main differentiator is our software platform approach,” says Philippe.  “We are no longer just selling dedicated discipline by discipline software tools. Many discipline engineers are very fond of our specialized solutions, but at the end of the day we accelerated the creation of silos, as most of discipline software solutions are not really communicating to each other.  While we are continuing to sell different technology software solutions, we are focusing on a platform where they can exchange and enhance collaborative work.  

“The other differentiator is horizontal digital continuity. With our solutions, any information you get and manage on your project you can then use it after commissioning and handover in operations and maintenance if relevant, providing digital continuity. We are in fact providing digital twins during the project and then during operations and maintenance.”

And what of the future? The energy transformation will have a huge impact, he says. “Over the next twenty years, oil and gas companies will have to take into consideration more and more about the climate change and EV effects. If there is a worldwide transfer to EVs, they will need to develop new uses for their crude. Most of our customers in the Middle East start to think about it. Some might transform part of their activities into electricity providers, using gas to produce electricity, and others will look to shift the focus from upstream to downstream. They won’t just want to sell crude, they will want to sell high end value products.”



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