Integrated Operation (IO) in the petroleum industry has for many years included distributed collaboration as a key support capability. The technologies used to enable distributed collaboration, e.g. between onshore and offshore, have evolved from phone calls and teleconference to video conferencing rooms, to desktop solutions and lately towards more mobile solutions. The authors report on observations over the last five years from five petroleum companies operating on the Norwegian Continental Shelf of how technology solutions both enable and sometimes hamper collaboration in an IO setting.

The study includes both structured observations of meetings and work sessions where collaboration between distributed locations is required and findings from industry projects for development of collaboration environments or IO training. A general setting in which collaboration technologies are used is presented. Then different solutions are talked through with focus on technology aspects such as usefulness, usability and literacy. Observations with examples from the industry are given on the solutions used for collaboration and information sharing. These include lessons learned with respect to how well they support the agenda and purpose of the collaboration session as well as the organizational workflow.

Technology can support IO to different degrees. Technologies developed with a different purpose can be tweaked to fit, technology may have been developed or selected to support IO, and in some cases, technology choices may induce or enforce a desired IO work practice. The authors identified several areas where the focus on technology solutions appears not yet adequate; the technology still does not support the work flows as intended. Some challenges observed in 2008 are still valid while new challenges and opportunities have arisen as IO has moved from being a new concept into "the way we operate around here". The results from these observations can help to focus the attention on collaboration technologies towards supporting the work flow (rather than forcing it upon the organisation). In many cases, the result of inadequate strategies has been added constraints rather than enabling solutions.

You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.