Customizable technology and operations has long been a staple of the energy industry, allowing operators and developers to remain competitive in the marketplace. However, customization as it relates to the energy transition can make it difficult for corporations to gauge where they need to be in their operations.

According to Raymond Jones, vice president of LNG projects at Exxon Mobil Corp., in order to be successful from both a business perspective and an environmental perspective, it is necessary to get rid of “customization for the sake of customization.”

Jones spoke on the importance of creating international standards on the OTC panel “How Unified International Standards Enable Efficiency in the Energy Transition,” moderated by Thalia Kruger, senior offshore/marine consultant at Principle Power, and Runar Østebø, advisor at Equinor, on May 5.

He was joined on the panel by Debra Phillips, president and CEO, NEMA; Adri Postema, director of engineering and standards, IOGP; David Reid, CMO and CTO, NOV; and Kristian Holm, technology director of renewables, Equinor.

In his presentation, Jones stated that he believes standardization should “play a large role in the future of what specification standardization means,” but first it should be clearly defined for energy professionals what that means.

“The first thing we've got to do is get aligned by what do we mean by standardization. For me, it's the application and the use of available off-the-shelf design for facilities and equipment, applying only essentially minimum changes required for application in order to use that equipment,” he said. “If we can get to that point, it’s going to help the entire value chain.

“We have to strive to eliminate customization for the sake of customization and truly apply where there is value in the approach.”

While he acknowledged that customization has its benefits, Jones pointed out that in the case of the energy transition, having different net-zero and emissions reduction standards isn’t necessarily productive overall for those looking to participate in the energy transition.

“We believe that that customization is necessary to drive certain safety environmental results, or to achieve some level of competitive advantage in the business,” Jones said. “While this may be true in certain cases, we need to make sure we do the work to understand where and where being different is really necessary.”

To prove his point, Jones shared a case study with two Exxon Mobil projects: Project A, which used a customized approach, and Project B, which used a standardized approach. In comparing the two, he found that Project B had improved work hours and quality and drove value in the project in a way that Project A didn’t due to the standardization of the project.

As a result of the study, he shared that Exxon Mobil would be implementing the process across its entire projects portfolio.

“It does take a lot of work,” he said. “You’ve got to decide upfront that you're going do that, and you have to have full alignment with your supplier and your EPC contractors and anyone else that's involved in in the project.”

“A few dedicated, really committed people can really start the process now – people and groups – if they collaborate and if they work together, if they have an aligned vision,” Jones added. “I’m happy to say for my time working in INGP, I do believe that that's one of the organizations with an aligned vision, and we as an industry are striving to achieve the objective of standardization.”