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EPCIS Technology Improves Visibility for North Sea Oil Service and Supply Companies

An EPCIS-compliant system from Spartan Solutions Services is enabling Swire Oilfield Services and Aker Solutions to share data regarding the whereabouts of their equipment and containers.
By Claire Swedberg
Sep 05, 2008Two offshore oil-drilling service and supply companies have launched a data-sharing system for their Norwegian North Sea operations, using software that complies with the Electronic Product Code Information Service (EPCIS) standard created by EPCglobal for sharing EPC-related information among trading partners. The system enables the companies to track the movements of their equipment and containers to and from offshore drilling sites, and to share that data with each other. The aim is to utilize the information to make operations smoother, more efficient and less costly.

The EPCIS system is provided by Spartan Solutions, a Glasgow, Scotland, firm specializing in implementing radio frequency identification and bar-code solutions for oil and gas companies. GS1 UK provided Spartan Solutions with advice regarding how EPC and GS1 standards could be implemented to help its customers track their assets. This included how to employ GS1 identification keys such as the Global Individual Asset Identifier (GIAI) and the Global Location Number (GLN), which can be used to identify physical locations. The long-term goal, says David Weatherby, a senior consultant with GS1 UK, is for drilling operators and freight companies to use EPCIS-based software to join the system, thereby gaining visibility of containers on their way to and from drilling sites.


Tor Helgeland
Swire Oilfield Services provides chemical tanks, pipe-carrying baskets and other types of containers used to transport supplies and equipment for the offshore oil-drilling industry in the North Sea and other regions around the world. The containers are shipped to oil-drilling sites, then back to cargo bases before being transported to another location, or back to a Swire Oilfield Services depot.

An ocean vessel often picks up containers from offshore drilling sites, however, and brings them to a cargo base, where multiple vendors' equipment is stored for use on the drill site. The containers are then trucked to a Swire Oilfield Services depot without prior notification, or with delayed notification, making it difficult for the equipment rental company to anticipate their arrival.

Without proper visibility into this process, says Tor Helgeland, Swire Oilfield Services' CEO, the company has a slower response time for renting a particular container to a specific operator. In addition, Helgeland says, Swire Oilfield Services moves containers around its depots and base by forklift a total of 3 million times each year, much of which could be reduced with an improved tracking system allowing operators to know which containers will be arriving, and when.

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