Q&A—IPA’s Game Changing Snapshot: Subsea Tieback Evaluation Software

Geoff Emeigh

These are unprecedented times. The world around us is changing and the shock of the most recent oil price collapse means that, once again, oil and gas companies have to ensure that their developments are as competitive as possible. While the world continues to adjust to this new reality, the landscape for energy companies has been changing since the 2014 oil price drop; given the competition from shale, private equity, LNG, and increasingly renewables, being fast and competitive to compete with short cycle investments is key. This has given rise to a segment of projects called fast-paced subsea tiebacks.

At IPA, we believe data are critical to the decision making process. For upstream companies to realize improvements in the efficiency and effectiveness of capital projects and project systems, timely and accurate data need to be easily accessible. This is especially true with respect to decision making for these fast-paced subsea tieback projects.

With the focus on rapid decision making, and the ability to harness digital advancements, IPA has been working on developing a software-based solution that improves our Project Evaluation System (PES®) and provides critical data to business and project teams faster. There has been a lack of digital tools that allow project teams to access reliable and trustworthy data easily and efficiently—until now. IPA has developed a new software package called Snapshot: Subsea Tieback to fill the void.

Snapshot is a cloud-based software solution that provides real-time independent evaluations for fast-paced subsea tiebacks. Using automation, we simplified the process of data collection and analysis. That helps expedite delivery of results and allows our experienced analysts to focus on providing valuable insights to our clients. Snapshot reduces the overall cycle time from data entry to draft report from 32 days to instantaneous.

As IPA rolls out its Snapshot: Subsea Tieback capital project assessment software, IPA Energy Research Leader Jon Walker explains why the software was developed and what subsea tieback project teams can expect when using the new software.

Photo of Jon Walker, IPA Energy Research Leader
Jon Walker, IPA Energy Research Leader

Editor: Why does the industry need this project evaluation capability now?

Walker: These fast-paced subsea tieback projects are being planned and executed so fast that it’s impossible to provide valuable insights and to measure competitiveness in a timely manner without using digital tools. Since several of our clients have recognized the value IPA brings, they asked us to develop a solution that gives sponsors near real-time project performance insights and benchmarks, but also allows subsea tiebacks to be executed with speed. Fast-paced subsea tiebacks are a unique subset of projects within the industry. They are small projects aimed at keeping large facilities operating at full capacity. Because they are designed to not be capital intensive and are often executed using a programmatic approach to create schedules, timely benchmarking and readiness assessments information is vital to knowing whether a project is on track.

Editor: How does Snapshot make subsea tieback project evaluations faster?

Walker: Our analysts are trained to know the leading indicators of capital projects success and failure. They review factors such as engineering and project plan definition and cost and schedule estimates. That knowledge allows them to recognize areas of concern and recommend proper course corrections. However, the process of collecting data, conducting in-person project team interviews, analyzing data, and writing reports is time intensive.

Recognizing that we could make our client interaction more valuable by automating some processes, we focused on making data entry as quick and painless as possible. We also reached out to several industry executives to find out what metrics and insights they found valuable. That allowed us to streamline the report findings Snapshot produces so they can get the most essential and valuable metrics right away. Our Snapshot software gets initial draft reports in our clients’ hands instantly. The turnaround time from opening a project to getting results is down from 30+ days to instantaneous.

Editor: What metrics and decision-making materials does the software produce? What types of subsea tiebacks can be evaluated and in what regions?

Walker: Snapshot focuses on six key metrics: facilities definition, wells definition, facilities cost, wells cost, facilities schedule, and wells schedule. These metrics were identified as essential by executives within the industry. We are using our proprietary database of hundreds of subsea tieback projects to generate these metrics for all types of subsea tieback projects in all regions of the world.

Editor: Is it really easier and faster for project teams to collect and enter project data on their own?

Walker: Absolutely. First, there isn’t really a data collection stage for our clients. Because these smaller projects being planned and executed quickly, most if not all of the required data are actively being used by the project team. Second, the new digital questionnaires make it easy to enter the right data quickly using tools like smart skip logic and automated data validation checks embedded right in the forms. Based on preliminary testing, it takes 1 to 2 hours to enter all the necessary data and receive a draft report for a project.

Editor: Describe some of the built-in collaboration features.

Walker: Each project team member has an account they can use to log in and enter data. On the project’s dashboard, a data entry progress meter provides status updates on each set of questions. Once one set of questions is complete, they can be locked down so no unintended changes are made. Then, once all are complete, the project manager has the ability to generate a report instantly. There is also the ability to reach out to IPA right within the software.

Editor: How are the project evaluation dashboards useful to project management and business?

Walker: Snapshot provides two key outputs. First is the project specific report, which provides near instant industry comparisons and readiness assessments for the project team to be confident their project will be successful, or highlight potential areas of concern. The second is the portfolio dashboard, which aggregates all projects that have been entered by a company. The dashboard allows portfolio managers, VPs, and senior executives to quickly see execution risk related to project definition in their portfolio of fast-paced subsea tiebacks as well as the competitiveness of the portfolio as measured by cost and schedule outcomes.

And that’s just version 1.0. We’re already working on additional features such as an industry insights section that provides real-time trends in the fast-paced subsea tieback industry. As more companies use the software, we can aggregate the data into recent trends that provide visibility into not just the user’s portfolio, but also where the industry is headed and how they compare. For more information, check out the Snapshot: Subsea Tieback website where you can get an overview of the software and even schedule a demo.

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