West Africa and the need to embrace digitalisation in gas operations

by | November 29, 2017 12:45 am

The West African region is undoubtedly one of the leading light in Africa when it comes to proven gas resources. Statistics indicates that in term of gas reserves in the Region, Nigeria dominates. Equatorial Guinea, Ivory Coast, Gabon and Ghana are other gas producers in the region.

In order, however, to continue to maintain her operation to meet global standard, industry closer watchers have advocated for the embrace of digitalisation in the gas sector to better use of data to manage and control multiple operations. This according to them would drive efficiencies in management and automation systems.

Digital development in gas facilities and infrastructure ranging from pipeline to refinery can be upgraded to digital automation as this would smoothen operations and aid the globalisation vision of the region.

Analysts maintain that effective integration of digital technologies could reduce capital expenditure in gas sector by up to 20percent, cut upstream operating costs by up to 5 percent and downstream costs by up to 2.5 percent.

They argue that West Africa’s best approach will be a combination of local skills and knowledge, and the expertise and experience of a proven international partner able to deliver digital technologies and automation, together with traditional instrumentation and controls, across the entire gas value chain.

Reports show that West African demand for Nigeria’s oil and gas is set to rise dramatically. The region annually consumes 22 billion litres of petrol, and Nigeria’s domestic market accounts for 17 billion of those litres, yet the country still imports around 80 percent of this energy.

With 37.2billion barrels of proven oil reserves, Nigeria could easily meet this demand locally through modernisation and continued exploration.

In the summation of industry experts, technology is a significant part of the solution to the gas challenge that West Africa faces as it enables real-time monitoring of infrastructure and quicker incident responses.

According to them, “To boost productivity and returns, West Africa gas sector operators should rapidly adopt and integrate digital technology that improves efficiencies and upskills staff.

Experts observed that in not too distant time, West Africa’s gas operations will have real-time access to data at the click of a button, from any location on earth. This essentially connects a team of global experts collaborating in real-time to drive improvements in exploration and extraction, health and safety, pipeline security, distribution, refining and transportation of the finished products.

And with a potential $300 billion added to the African economy by 2026 through the adoption of digitalisation, West Africa’s economy will receive a significant portion of that figure to advance its burgeoning gas market.

According to them, “This in turn addresses the triple threat of unemployment, inequality and poverty paving the way for a society where business success leads to socio-economic advancement, such as new business development and job creation, and essential new infrastructure projects that include schools, hospitals, transportation networks and housing.

Gas operators in West Africa should be early adopters of technology, their employees should be proactively trained in the application of the new technology, and the industry should be supported by an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) with proven global experience across the entire upstream, mid-stream and downstream value chain.