Digitalization Accelerates at TCO

24 June 2021

Over the past year, the global oil and gas industry has managed through a challenging period of external events, including pandemic response, a collapse in commodity markets and OPEC+ production constraint. Operators and investors in Kazakhstan have had to rapidly adjust changing business conditions and, at Tengizchevroil (TCO), digital transformation has enabled the company to be agile and innovative in our efforts to advance change across the business, help turn challenges into opportunities and enable TCO to continue delivering on its commitments to the Republic of Kazakhstan and our shareholders.

COVID-19 Pandemic Response

Since the start of the pandemic, TCO has applied a ‘go digital’ philosophy in all aspects of pandemic response, leveraging cross functional Agile scrum teams to rapidly develop and deploy novel digital solutions designed to keep our workforce safe and healthy. When the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in March last year, in a matter of weeks, TCO digitally enabled new workflows and tools to support emergency response teams in managing COVID-19 risks to the workforce. 

Some of these digital tools serve as early indicators of potential viral outbreaks, enabling TCO to take timely actions to isolate impacted personnel or camps and prevent the spread of COVID-19 more broadly across TCO’s operational zones. Digital dashboards monitor persons on board (POB), local hospital and medical clinic bed availability, daily infection rates, testing and isolation metrics and other signposts that create a clear view of local conditions and help leadership make informed decisions on workforce health, safety and operations. Up to this date, the crisis management team’s digital dashboard indicated more than 506,000 COVID-19 PCR tests have been conducted by TCO in partnership with RoK health authorities since the pandemic began.

Maximizing Returns

In parallel to the pandemic, the oil and gas industry experienced an unprecedented drop in commodity markets, which were followed by OPEC+ production curtailments. TCO felt the impact of these market events and, in response, formed cross functional teams to identify ways to optimize revenues in areas outside of crude oil production. 

At TCO’s KTL processing facility, Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) production was increased with the assistance of a digital tool called Virtual Plant. This tool combines real-time data from plant instrumentation and Hysys simulation where instruments in the plant do not exist. At TCO’s Second Generation Plant (SGP) processing facility, feed to the gas plant was increased using a DMC+ controller designed to maximize butane blended into crude. 

Ultimately, increases in LPG production at both plants through the use of digital technologies helped offset the impacts of crude production curtailments. This example is another demonstration of how TCO is turning challenges into opportunities, optimizing the value chain, and leveraging digital solutions to quickly respond to shifts in the marketplace.

Safely Executing TCO’s Future Growth Project-Wellhead Pressure Management Project (FGP-WPMP)

FGP-WPMP is one the largest major capital projects in the global oil and gas industry. With this large-scale global project, planning, logistics and execution are complex. 

To adapt ensure safe execution of the project, TCO has deployed a digital solution to ensure execution of the right work at the right time. The solution, referred to as SWIFT, is an integrated forecasting software for systems completion and workface planning to enable more effective management of FGP-WPMP critical path activities. 

SWIFT enables continuous improvement of decision making for integrated project teams to help them prepare and execute work efficiently and ensure that jobs are completed before moving to the next work package. This software solution also tracks completion of all final project documentation so that the information needed by commissioning teams is ready and waiting. 

SWIFT provides TCO near real-time visibility into mechanical completion by integrating information across more than 10 systems and aligning thousands of individual installation work packages, helping drive efficient and effective transition from bulk construction to system-based construction. Having an integrated and holistic view of construction and systems completion status at the work package level enables a critical capability for the project to quickly respond to changes in operating conditions, identify risks and apply the appropriate mitigations at the right time.

Digital Culture  

At TCO, there is recognition that ‘going digital’ is much more than just adopting technology, it’s about creating a digital culture that enables continuous performance improvement and maximizes value across the value chain. Building a digital culture starts with equipping the entire workforce with the right digital skills. Training and self-service platforms are enabling scalable solutions to be developed at TCO through a community of citizen developers, but nowhere is the culture of innovation more on display than in TCO’s annual Digital Yurt events, where employees build digital skills through formal training and put those skills to the test in a day long hack-a-thon event designed to solve real business problems leveraging technology.   

The theme of last year’s Digital Yurt was artificial intelligence and machine learning. Fifty TCO employees prepared for the event by completing several instructor-led courses on data science and becoming familiar with a suite of tools to be leveraged in applying their newly acquired skills. On the day of the virtual event, contestants were presented with a real business problem and corresponding data set and were given 6 hours to complete the full development cycle of a data science project, including presenting their recommendations to a panel of judges consisting of members of TCO’s leadership team. 

The results were impressive and a testament to the innovative spirit at TCO. Building a digital culture through initiatives like Digital Yurt creates a way of capturing novel ideas from all levels of the organization and strengthening the spirit of innovation and teamwork at TCO. People are TCO’s greatest asset and it is our people who are leading digital transformation across the organization.  

The results were impressive and a testament to the innovative spirit at TCO. Building a digital culture through initiatives like Digital Yurt creates a way of capturing novel ideas from all levels of the organization and strengthening the spirit of innovation and teamwork at TCO. People are TCO’s greatest asset and it is our people who are leading digital transformation across the organization.

Digital Transformation Continues

After only a few years since its inception, TCO’s digital transformation journey is still in its early phases. With an initial focus on expanding the company’s ability to deliver agile digital projects that create incremental value for the organization, TCO’s digital transformation journey has continued to progress through a period of significant industry challenges and transformation in response to global events. There are exciting developments ahead, including plans to expand mobility across the entire Tengiz operation, launch a technologically advanced Integrated Operations Control Center (IOCC), and expand the capabilities of the Virtual Plant solution to fully optimize operating parameters as FGP-WPMP new facilities come online. 

TCO’s future is bright, with digital enablement playing a critical role in driving continuous improvement and strengthening the company’s competitive performance. Digital transformation is a strategic imperative for TCO, and the company remains committed as a leader in Kazakhstan’s to maximize value for the Republic and our shareholders through the adoption of digital technologies in the years to come.