National Energy Resources Australia (NERA), the Australian Government’s Industry Growth Centre for the Energy Resources sector, has supported several energy related technology projects through its $200,000 Leap Voucher program.

Under the program, NERA has assisted ten Australian innovators in identifying and overcoming barriers to commercialising their technology. The successful recipients each receive $20,000 (to be matched) and will work with potential industry clients to pilot, test, customise or refine their technology solutions in the energy resources sector.

NERA Chief Executive, Miranda Taylor, said the technology solutions being supported by the Leap Vouchers would benefit a range of challenges facing the energy resources sector.

“Australia is already a global leader in the export of energy resources commodities, but by investing in and supporting our innovators throughout the supply chain, we have the potential to create a world-leading hub for exportable technology solutions right here,” Ms Taylor said.

“NERA’s initiatives across the energy resources sector are helping more Australian businesses, including SMEs, integrate into global supply chains, leading to increased export income and employment opportunities. Through our Leap Vouchers, we are continuing to boost research and development collaboration to improve the commercialisation of technology, support the development of workforce skills and increase the deployment of Industry 4.0 technologies and capabilities throughout the sector.”

NERA’s 2018 Leap Voucher program follows the success of the 2017 Innovation Vouchers, which awarded $180,000 to inspiring and ground-breaking small businesses looking for assistance to enter or succeed within Australia’s energy resources supply chain. The program has supported the commercialisation of new products that deliver safer operations, digital solutions for personnel mobility, as well as applications for drone technology.

The Leap Vouchers are a national program with each recipient receiving ongoing advice and support from NERA.

A full list of the Leap Voucher recipients and the industry challenge they will help address is listed below:

Chironix Pty Ltd – Husky Explorer Pro Edition Robot

Challenge: maintenance and operations that underpin Australia’s multi-billion-dollar energy resources sector often involve tasks that put human beings in danger. Despite their critical nature, these roles are performed in extremely hazardous environments and represent time-consuming, expensive and inefficient impact for resource operators.

Solution: Chironix’s Husky Explorer Pro robot will be implemented to eliminate health and safety risks in challenging environments as a holistic technology solution. The robotic system enhances workflow by its improvement of safety as unmanned and autonomous machines. These robots perform challenging or mundane tasks, which then increases productivity for energy resource operators and reduces safety risk in operational, dangerous environments.

A60N Pty Ltd – subsea deposit management systems (DMS)

Challenge: subsea oil and gas equipment functionality in Australian waters is frequently compromised by the formation of a variety of marine, sedimentary and calcareous deposits. Overcoming the loss of functionality is a costly and time-consuming process offshore and, over the lifecycle of an asset, can cost operators tens of millions of dollars.

Solution: A60N has developed a range of innovative subsea deposit management systems (DMS) for a variety of critical subsea equipment interfaces. The retrofittable DMSs are designed to inhibit the formation of deposits ensuring no loss of functionality and unplanned intervention costs. The elimination of common offshore problems will improve the economics of future offshore developments in Australia.

Flicq Asia-Pacific – suite of monitoring sensors

Challenge: optimising plant performance is a critical factor for Australia’s energy resources sector, and the ability to constantly and precisely monitor the status of essential equipment helps industry remain globally competitive. Across Australia’s LNG industry, anti-surge valves are a key component of LNG plants; however, monitoring the valves has been extremely difficult to do manually given their location within plant infrastructure.

Solution: Flicq will design and deliver a suite of smart sensors that can remotely monitor anti-surge valves on LNG plants 24/7. Not only will monitoring anti-surge valves be easier and more efficient for operators, these sensors will provide extremely accurate condition monitoring to help prevent failure and, for the first time, allow comparison across multiple LNG facilities. The sensors are expected to deliver major operational efficiencies and have the potential to be distributed across Australia’s LNG industry and into global markets.

Soter Analytics Pty Ltd – SoterSpine

Challenge: musculoskeletal injuries are the number one injury in industrial workplaces. With obvious consequences for workers themselves, these injuries can cost industry tens of millions of dollars a year and represent a major operational risk for employers.  Ensuring the device is intrinsically safe for the oil and gas industry is essential for it to be taken up in that sector.

Solution: Soter Analytics’s SoterSpine is a connected, wearable device clipped to the shirt of a team member that reduces the probability of workplace injury by up to 70 per cent. The SoterSpine identifies and quantifies musculoskeletal risk and gives instant feedback to the wearer. Delivered in the form of an app, the information is used to formulate a unique training program, helping the user to improve their working habits and avoid injuries. Following trials with oil and gas companies, the hardware is required to be guaranteed intrinsically safe if the Soterspine is to be taken up broadly across the industry.  

NEXXIS Pty Ltd – Magneto the robotic crawler

Challenge: successfully completing inspection and maintenance programs on highly complex energy resources structures often means people work in difficult, dangerous and hazardous environments. The challenge is to make a fundamental improvement in safety for companies and people conducting maintenance work.

Solution: Magneto is a new, leading-edge inspection robot technology that has potential to help industry reduce the risk to human life and greatly improve operational efficiencies across the energy resources sector. In addition to navigating complex confined environments, Magneto also improves the quality of the data being captured. Through dedicated digital features, it records all relevant details, and importantly feeds this content and information back to the operating teams in real time.

IRPM Pty Ltd – an alternative method for hydrocarbon subsurface volumetric evaluation

Challenge: for Australia’s oil and gas industry, the current method to determine which drill locations will generate the highest production from the field is based on a method of measuring the probabilities of events occurring. However, this method is based on industry standard stochastic predictions and can be inaccurate, expensive and conceptually biased, costing the industry valuable time and money

Solution: IRPM Pty Ltd offers an alternative prediction process – one based on science, physics and mathematical relationships. Innovative 3D Reservoir Petrophysical Modelling (iRPM) involves blind testing algorithms against the results from existing well logs to predict new results from wells yet to be drilled, which is a critical step that validates the 3D model. By removing the need for additional well log data to appraise the potential of the discovered field, this method reduces field uncertainty and decreases processing times to 2-4 weeks. Through removing potential inaccuracies, this process can provide faster and more accurate predictions, with the potential to save the industry millions.

Clearview Well Services – dual function tool

Challenge: subsea safety equipment forms an integral part of offshore energy resource operations, helping to protect the environment, human lives and multi-billion-dollar infrastructure. Despite their importance, the current method used to clean subsea safety equipment (Blow Out Preventer) is a costly and time-consuming task that can involve many pieces of specialised equipment, multiple tool changes and down hole runs.

Solution: Clearview Well Services identified an opportunity to supply an innovative solution that can greatly boost the efficiency and reduce the costs associated with cleaning subsea equipment. Instead of multiple trips, Clearview’s dual function camera tool can survey an area, and clean, inspect and pressure test in just one trip. Completing all of these actions without the need to reset equipment greatly reduces operational downtime, keeps potential risks to a minimum and has the potential to deliver substantial cost savings to energy resource operators across Australia.

AiSpanner – shutdown and safety planning optimisation application

Challenge: for Australia’s energy resources sector, the efficient planning and execution of shutdowns and turnarounds is essential to maintain production and reduce revenue loss. Planned maintenances are vital for performance, reliability and integrity throughout the lifecycle of the plant. Shutdowns constitute the single largest identified maintenance expense, and controlling the costs, duration and safety represents a significant challenge.

Solution: AiSpanner is an easy to use, datacentric, multidimensional maintenance and safety planning optimisation application, using advance visualisation, analytics and spatial intelligence. The solution uses data and time as a dimension for safety, task, crane utilisation, scaffolding, staging area and tie-ins.It also uses spatial relativity to manage and optimise physical space, avoid conflicts, minimise interference, reduce the risk of health and safety incidents, and remove all wasted motion to improve tooltime. The application aims to systematically plan and optimise the large number of jobs required within the shortest time frame.

Modulr Tech – intelligent reporting system (IRIS)

Challenge: much of the reporting in the mining and energy resources industries is done in paper format, which is inefficient, time-consuming and difficult to extract insights from. User error and the inaccurate or incomplete entry of data can have flow-on effects which can adversely impact operational efficiencies.

Solution: To address this issue, Modulr Tech is designing an efficient online intelligent reporting system (IRIS) that streamlines the reporting process and offers real-time insights from these reports. IRIS will allow a user to dynamically create reports, assign them to specific personnel and view analytics to make more informed decisions – all on one easy-to-use online platform. This will allow resources operators greater speed and flexibility to access the data and utilise it to further optimise operational environments.

Subsea Integrity Management Solutions – oil and gas industry cloud-based system

Challenge: during the design, construction and operational phases of oil and gas structures, complex engineering analyses that use manual calculations are traditionally labour- and time-intensive. This can include calculations for subsea pipeline and cable fatigue assessments where an inaccurate or incomplete analysis can severely impact safe and efficient operations.

Solution: Subsea Integrity Management Solutions is automating the design and analysis of these assessments by utilising a web-based portal that links engineering companies to online supercomputing. Once the software module is populated, the analysis will take hours rather than weeks to complete. As more data is uploaded to the portal, it will learn and become better at creating more accurate models in the virtual environment. This will help produce less conservative engineering assessments, improve operational safety and reduce operational expenditure for resource operators.  

Lauren Butler

Lauren ‘LJ’ Butler is the Assistant Editor of Utility magazine and has been part of the team at Monkey Media since 2018.

After completing a Bachelor of Media, Communications and Professional Writing at the University of Wollongong in 2014, and prior to writing about the utility sector, LJ worked as a Journalist and Sub Editor across the horticulture, hardware, power equipment, construction and accommodation industries with publishers such as Glenvale Publications, Multimedia Publishing and Bean Media Group.

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