Founded in late 2004, Afren is an independent oil and gas exploration and production company listed on the London Stock Exchange.
Recent oil and gas IT and telecomms case studies:
Supporting the premier pan-African independent exploration and production company
Founded in late 2004, Afren is an independent oil and gas exploration and production company listed on the London Stock Exchange. Afren was established with the vision to become the premier pan-African independent exploration and production company, with a differentiated strategy based on a strong African representation in the board and management, and partnerships with indigenous companies, National Oil Companies and Governments, Afren has successfully found a solution to the vast untapped resources in the Gulf of Guinea.
Afren is regarded as a significant oil and gas producer with operations in Nigeria and Côte d'Ivoire, providing 22,000 working interest boepd of oil, gas and natural gas liquids production. During this time a 2P reserves and contingent resource-base of 113 mmboe has been established with additional prospective resources identified of 1,054 mmboe.
A financially sound solution to IT support
When founded, Afren initially partnered with a small IT support company. Aggressive growth and expansion into new offices worldwide meant that Afren soon outgrew the delivery capabilities of their incumbent IT support providers. Following recommendations, Afren partnered with ISN Solutions – established providers of IT infrastructure maintenance and support, with specialist expertise in the delivery of IT consultancy and project management services to the oil and gas industry.
"Our initial projects centred on maintenance and support and implementing reliable and ‘always available' connectivity between Afren's offices," explained Derek Munro, a Director of ISN Solutions. "There was also a need to make sense of the existing environment and what building blocks could be set in place at the start to support where we knew Afren was heading in the future." The partnership started in 2007 and has grown from Managed IT Services to the management and delivery of major projects in line with Afren's rapidly growing business interests."
One of Afren's major requirements was for zero down-time on systems, for which ISN Solutions provides a full Managed IT Service including the remote monitoring of Afren's entire IT infrastructure. The aim is to actively identify and rectify problems before they can impact the integrity and on-going operation of Afren's infrastructure.
"From the outset Afren took the decision to partner with external organisations for the delivery of IT services," explained Patrick Cherlet, Afren's Commercial Director. "In an organisation of this size it makes sound financial sense to outsource to the experts, giving us access to highly specialised professionals. The alternative of bringing such capabilities in-house would be prohibitively expensive and counterproductive as we need to be able to call on expertise in a wide range of disciplines for specific projects. With a large, permanent IT team, the peaks and troughs of our IT requirements would mean that we would either be overstaffed or understaffed. Outsourcing gives us the competencies, experience and knowledge-base we need, when we need it."
1st Production - Okoru Setu field development
In 2007, Afren commenced the development of its Okoru Setu asset, offshore Nigeria, and asked ISN Solutions to establish an entire IT infrastructure for the FPSO (Floating Production Storage and Offloading) facility, including on-board satellite communications and comprehensive computer systems.
Late in 2007, ISN Solutions began the IT re-fit, working under the direction of Afren, and identified and appointed sub-contracting specialists to deliver the range of technical capabilities that such an extensive and time-critical project required. "Although we have substantial experience in the oil and gas industry as well as extensive in-house technical expertise, we need to ensure the unique requirements of organisations such as Afren are delivered at every stage of the design, development and implementation processes," continued Derek Munro. "By appointing and managing highly experienced specialists who bring specific knowledge and expertise to the project, we were able to meet all of Afren's requirements. We also successfully completed the entire project against an extremely tight deadline."
Cote d'Ivoire asset integration
In 2008, Afren bought over the Cote d'Ivoire assets of Devon Energy. At that time, the asset was deeply integrated with Devon's corporate network and comprised a head office in Abidjan, an offshore production platform and an onshore gas plant. As part of the takeover, ISN project managed the integration of the acquired assets into the Afren network – a project that required an extensive IT infrastructure refresh and a full migration of applications, solutions and data.
Ebok field development
A subsequent, but more extensive project required the complete IT refit of both an FSO (Floating, Storage and Offloading) and a MOPU (Mobile Offshore Production Unit). which will ultimately lead to production from the Ebok Field - an undeveloped oil field located offshore in Nigeria's prolific south eastern producing area.
In addition to implementing extensive and redundant IT and satellite communications solutions on both the FSO and MOPU, ISN will also remotely manage and support the operation from its head office in London, once production commences.
A relationship built on trust
Patrick Cherlet agrees. "Our relationship is built on trust," he added. "We now have an internal Group IT Director who manages our relationship with ISN Solutions and ensures that all of our IT projects are completed on time, to specification and to budget."
Recent projects undertaken by ISN Solutions on behalf of Afren include assisting with the implementation of a new financial system (Sun Accounts), during which ISN Solutions worked closely with the suppliers to ensure the smooth go-live of this solution. Prior to this, ISN Solutions had recommended that Afren adopted Citrix as its global platform and oversaw the transition and implementation of this on a worldwide basis. More recently, Afren decided to replace the existing server farm with a virtualised environment to achieve numerous benefits including substantially more storage facilities, enhanced development and operational efficiencies, comprehensive fail-over, contingency and disaster recovery capabilities and a greener, cost effective and efficient global infrastructure. Working closely with Afren, ISN again project managed the entire operation.
"ISN are accredited experts in the field of virtualisation," continued Derek Munro. "Our consultants are certified by vendors in VMWare vSphere, Citrix XenServer and XenDesktop and Microsoft Hyper-V to provide the expert help businesses need to realise the benefits that virtualisation brings. This was a major project that will substantially improve Afren's server and desktop provisioning and disaster recovery capabilities, whilst reducing capital expenditure and operating costs and improving efficiencies with the implementation, enhancement and rollout of group-wide applications."
The virtualised environment proved invaluable during the roll out of Afren's new financial system when a replica was built to test major upgrades and updates, prior to applying them to the live environment.
Global Help Desk
Currently ISN Solutions is working with Afren on two additional and major projects – the implementation and roll out of a document management system to provide efficient storage, retrieval and access to the vast amounts of documentation, reports and information held at Afren (which involved detailed analysis of the advantages and pitfalls of solutions that had been implemented by other, similar organisations), and the implementation of a centralised Help Desk, located at ISN Solution's London offices and intended to provide a single point of contact for IT issues and support throughout Afren's global empire.
"Our partnership with ISN Solutions began in 2007 and has grown with us as Afren has expanded," concluded Patrick Cherlet. "We rely on ISN Solutions for direction and technical guidance. The relationship isn't about money, it's about partnering with competent and knowledgeable specialists who know our organisation, understand the oil and gas exploration and production business and are able to work as our IT department to help us improve and enhance our operation and maximise our investments in IT."
"Although each Afren operation has local IT support, they look to ISN for advice and guidance on a number of technical and commercial IT issues," continued Derek Munro. "ISN Solutions works extremely closely with Afren at all levels and has become, in effect, Afren's trusted advisor."