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ABS Discusses the Value of Digital Twins in the Offshore Sector


While it’s barely news anymore that the offshore oil and gas industry has been hit hard by the effects of the global pandemic and a huge drop in oil price, there are some positives to be drawn as well, such as the increasing adoption of digital technologies.

“….what we really see in the global response to the pandemic, it’s been a catalyst for some real positive change as well. The easiest example is how much more quickly we’ve all adopted remote work technology to perform our day-to-day business.

“But that means both using Zoom and MS Teams to collaborate, but it also stretches into some really interesting stuff and accelerated use of remote survey tools and new digital solutions to support designs and operations,” says Matthew Tremblay, ABS Senior Vice President of Global Offshore Markets, in an interview with Offshore Engineer TV’s Greg Trauthwein

With the talk about technology, the story of digital twins, increasingly being adopted in the offshore industry, came up as well. But, for the uninitiated, what is a digital twin?

Developed by NASA

Well, Tremblay says, the concept of the digital twin was first developed by NASA in the 1960s as part of the Apollo space missions. But the term digital twin was really recognized as a commercial technology in the early 2000s, he adds.

“In the offshore context, digital twin technology is being increasingly adopted by operators to help them use their data better and manage their offshore assets, in particular for a better understanding of the asset integrity,” he says.

Three primary components

According to Tremblay, there are three primary components that make up a digital twin.

First, there has to be a physical reality. There has to be a physical thing that you’re trying to simulate. Next, there needs to be a virtual representation of that physical asset. And last, there need to be interconnections and exchanges of information between the physical thing and the virtual thing.

“The key requirement for a digital twin that makes it unique from other digital models is that a digital twin represents a single instance of the system that’s updated to reflect changes to that system over time,” Tremblay explains.

What does it do?

So, while the theory is all well and good, what does a digital twin do in practice, and specifically in the offshore energy industry? There’s no simple answer, as it depends on what is it that you want to achieve, or what problem you want to solve.

The targeted outcomes of your digital twin need to be measurable and quantifiable, Tremblay says.

“One example of an outcome that’s being supported by digital twins today that’s not always thought of as is its ability to reduce the risks associated with emergency response situations offshore. Most emergency events require detailed engineering analysis, such as a finite element analysis to answer questions before resuming operations. Any delay offshore can be extremely costly, especially in the timeframe required to create new models of an asset and the current condition from drawings and reports you may have on file.”

Per Tremblay, ABS has developed the ABS Offshore Enhanced Rapid Response Damage Assessment, which expands the scope of the company’s traditional rapid response program by maintaining an asset-specific condition model and operation history in a digital twin.

This information can then act as insurance, where, in case of an emergency, a model of the affected areas can be extracted really quickly from the maintained digital twin for rapid analysis.

Watch the full interview to learn more about ABS’ outlook on the markets from the perspective of class, ABS Offshore Enhanced Rapid Response Damage Assessment, why one might not necessarily need a digital twin of an entire asset, and how incremental approach of the digital twin for the offshore sector can be an advantage.