The fourth industrial revolution which made waves globally have prompted industry players and businesses to seek newer ways to operate their games and remain at the top of their chain – the oil and gas sector is no exception to this.

With the advent of newer technologies, oil and gas practitioners are required to be sensitive to the latest related developments as it may offer them techniques to exploit resources in a more efficient and cost-effective manner.

Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

This in turn, opens up new opportunities for startups to latch onto a niche which has never been there before – and one such company is Dimension Strata, which was established in 2017 under the premise to develop its own petroleum geoscientific expertise.

Covering geo-scientific consultancy and training as well as research and development, the company come to be an incorporated entity starting September last year.

The O&G value chain

Managing Director Mohammad Reduan Hj Mohd Yusof who has been in the oil and gas industry since 2004 positioned the company at oil and gas’s upstream level. The value chain of the oil and gas business goes to three levels – upstream, mid-stream and downstream.

Mohd Reduan explained that oil companies engage foreign companies to do 2D and/or focused 3D seismic data acquisition within their exploration area to look for hydrocarbon prospects.

Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

“From there, the data acquired will be analysed and interpreted by petroleum geologists using petroleum geoscience industry software to identify prospects and evaluate the characteristics of their identified hydrocarbon bearing reservoirs before passing it on to petroleum engineers to plan their drilling programme,” he said.

“Upon commercial discovery then they move to the mid-stream level, where companies will provide pipelines and tankers – all the necessary structure to facilitate the transportation of their produced crude oil and/or condensates to storage and transport to markets globally,”

“For produced natural gas they are usually piped to gas compression plant before being piped to nearby markets, or undergo methane extraction and liquefied and transported to far distant markets as liquefied natural gas,” he added.

The downstream level on the other hand, he explained, is when companies utilise what they produced from the upstream segment into something else – for example turning crude oil into refined products for the transportation fuel market or to convert them to petrochemicals for feedstock in them manufacturing industry.

Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

The upstream segment basically includes the exploration, development and production stage.

“In that sense, we are providing our petroleum geoscience services to the upstream segment, where we help clients to analyse processed seismic data to identify where the hydrocarbon prospects are,” he said.

“At the same time, we also do geo-modelling using 3d visualization, so clients can understand the structure of the identified reservoir better, which may help them plan their drilling trajectory to an optimal rate,” he added.

Competitive industry software

Dimension Strata is using its own workflow algorithm to better analyse and conduct enhanced interpretation of seismic data. The algorithm is currently being developed into a fully functional petroleum geoscience software.

“The algorithm was actually the brainchild of our petroleum geoscientist which take into account many years of practical experiences in the industry,” Mohd Reduan said.

Right now, the software is being used in-house, and it will soon be launched and will be commercially available to the global oil and gas industries.

“Using Dimension Strata’s software will allow our potential clients to study wells that have been abandoned, or those that have been producing for many years and is aging. With our technical breakthrough algorithm, the fields can be re-evaluated and restudied,” said the managing director.

“We may be able to identify more accurately the volume of the hydrocarbon in the reservoir, which could help companies to better plan their production,”

“Say for example, a well that was studied in the 1980s using available technology at that time, it is said to last for 30 years, but with the technology that we have developed, we may be able to see more of those stratigraphic details and find that it is possible to get the well to last for another 5-10 years,” he added.

Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

Dimension Strata’s new algorithm, he explained, is capable of viewing about 50 square metre into a substructure that is up to 4,000 metres below the surface – without loss of resolution.

“Currently there are not less than 15 softwares in the market specialising in geological and geophysical seismic interpretation and geo-modelling,” said Mohd Reduan.

“All of these softwares have their own particular niches, for example petrophysics. They could either go heavily on structural modeling or more towards volumetrics. That is where we think we can come in,”

“We do feel that our software will be commercially beneficial for oil and gas experts – by being able to reduce exploration and production risks by being able to zoom-in on a substructure to within 50square metre per grid cells,” he added.

Reducing drill misses, minimising costs

The main purpose of developing a 3D visualisation along with interpreting seismic datas is to enable oil and gas explorers to easily determine the best drilling spots – which may also help them reduce their costs by mitigating drill misses.

“If you have to identify a drilling target within an area of 150 square metre, and having to drill within such area with a six-inch drill pipe, the risk of misses is substantial,” Mohd Reduan explained.

“On the other hand, our state-of-the-art algorithm with its in-built modules is capable of zooming down to 4000 metres depth and 50 metre square grid cell without loss of resolution, determining the volume, distance and optimal spots and thereby reducing such risk by two third,”

“That is why we are really happy to provide these services to the local as well as global oil and gas industry,” the managing director added.

At the interim, Dimension Strata has already approached clients nationwide last year, with an established international oil company giving the firm an opportunity to prove its capabilities.

“We understand that we are new, and that we still have the challenge of getting global industry players to get to know about us and our technological breakthrough in seismic interpretation and 3D reservoir geomodeling services,” he said.

“Right now, what we want is for industries to be familiar with us by giving us opportunities to showcase our technical capabilities,” he added.

Making investments worthwhile by training locals

One of the company’s pillar of business is to provide 16 practical geoscience training courses outlined to enhance capability of industry professionals.

The company recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Dhaka University to provide geoscience technical training, with a meeting already scheduled sometime this month for both sides to list down plans of actions in their next 12 months.

The target participants for the training to be conducted under the MoU includes professional geologists who are already working in the industry; and with its agreement with Dhaka University, it hopes to establish its name in the international scene.

Prior to signing the instrument, Dimension Strata had previously conducted few trainings, starting off with a mini seminar in the country, together with an italian oil and gas training company last year; and a public lecture in Dhaka, Bangladesh in February, of which was attended by 87 undergraduate and post-graduate students in geology from several universities in the country.

Through its training business, Dimension Strata is also looking to start a culture where geoscience experts will share their knowledge and experience willingly, for the sake of improving the field.

Aspiration

Setting up a company from scratch in the oil and gas industry is no easy task especially when the segment continued to be brimmed by foreigners instead of local experts. This practice which have spanned over the last century seemed to have stemmed a mindset that locals are inferior to foreigners, particularly in practicing the industry.

“But our neighbouring countries managed to be at par with them, within a short span of time. This was made possible thanks to the support of their government authorities and their persistence to persevere within the industry,” Managing Director Mohd Reduan said.

“What we want to tackle is the mindset that Asian companies being less superior than western companies when it comes to oil and gas consultancy. Afterall, we locals grew-up and some even have worked in this industry, therefore, who best to know our country’s oil and gas industry better than the locals themselves,”

“We have to provide avenues for developing and nurturing the capabilities of our own people. Brunei Darussalam has a lot of undergraduates relevant to the oil and gas industry-we want to be the additional avenue for locals to gain professional experience in the Petroleum Geoscience field,”

“Hopefully one day, with the trust and support of His Majesty’s Government the petroleum geoscience sector of the country’s oil and gas industry can truly be run by locals,” he added.

This article was first published on May 18, 2019 in our Weekly E-Paper issue 37

The Bruneian | BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

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