As E&P infrastructure ages, maintenance dollars don’t always follow. Harsh environment exposure and an incomplete maintenance history mean infrastructure may not reach its projected lifespan.

When the focus is on production, maintenance may be deferred. But deferring maintenance too long can result in the need to replace oil and gas infrastructure along with the possibility of fines and cleanup costs.

Hart Energy August 2022 - Extending Infrastructure Lifespan with Maintenance Planning - IFS Carol Johnston headshot“Maintenance is not sexy. It’s a cost. Maintenance dollars are razor thin and barely enough to keep it operational.”—Carol Johnston, IFS

Asset management software can track an asset’s maintenance, repairs and refurbishments from cradle to grave, and it can generate an optimized schedule of maintenance based on available resources. Carol Johnston, IFS’s vice president of industries, energy, utilities and resources, said infrastructure may be designed to withstand inclement weather for the duration of its planned lifespan, but that lack of regular maintenance can chip away at the integrity of the asset.

“Maintenance is not sexy. It’s a cost,” she said. “Maintenance dollars are razor thin and barely enough to keep it operational.”

When the bean counters get involved, she said, the focus often narrows to continuing throughput rather than reinvesting in maintenance because downtime and maintenance often mean lost production.

“Nobody wants to carve out that money from profit,” she said. The goal is to “stretch every penny, every dollar and to not replace that asset before it’s dead or about to die.”

Hart Energy August 2022 - Extending Infrastructure Lifespan with Maintenance Planning - Enterprise Asset Management IFS software image
Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) is a core component of the IFS Cloud platform, which contains composable enterprise software solutions that organizations can deploy to match the needs of their industry now and into the future. IFS EAM contains embedded artificial intelligence and machine learning, and powerful scheduling tools to analyze equipment data to create an optimized schedule of work based on long-term asset maintenance timeframes. (Source: IFS)

Without routine maintenance, though, something designed for 20 years may start to show its age much faster than expected, Johnston said. And the cost to replace infrastructure is “horrendously” expensive, she added.

She estimates asset owners carry out between 20% and 80% of recommended maintenance.

“They are all equally guilty, regardless of size,” she said. “I don’t know of any group doing 100% of inspection and replacement that they should be doing, but the average is in the 60-70% range.”

Very often that maintenance is targeted on high-risk assets that may cause a disaster, hurt someone, or grind operations to a halt, she said, because the cost of cleanup and fines could run into the millions, she said.

“To save money they hone in on the highest risk, most valuable work that needs to be done,” she said.

Hart Energy August 2022 - Extending Infrastructure Lifespan with Maintenance Planning - IFS EAM system software image
The IFS EAM system runs in mobile form on intrinsically safe smart devices on all major operating systems. The mobile solution dispatches work items to a mobile maintenance engineer in the field in a real-time connected environment – monitoring key equipment data, and flagging issues in real time. (Source: IFS)

Inspection of assets was traditionally a paper and clipboard operation carried out by a human, but the industry has been shifting to automating collection of inspection data.

The use of drones and robots with sensors not only improves the quality of data collected, it increases the volume of data, and it can help keep humans out of unsafe areas. That data is then processed and often visualized to help asset managers assess how an asset is aging.

Johnston said an asset management system can track the cradle-to-grave life of infrastructure, including procurement, installation, deployment, depreciation, life cycle through warranty, maintenance, repairs and refurbishment.

While it may sound like a digital twin, which is a digital representation of a real-world object, it is now, she said. Instead, it stores the records of the asset, she said.

IFS Cloud’s Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) system is cloud-native, scalable and secure, she said, but it can be operated on-premises, or in a public cloud, private cloud or managed service.

Powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning, it can process vast amounts of inspection data alongside known information about existing infrastructure and resources to help with planning maintenance, she said.

It marries information about workloads and available resources to generate an optimized maintenance schedule for the day, week and year.