Shell - Optimizing Transport Systems in the Gulf of Mexico

The Challenge

To devise a strategy in Shell where utilization of ship vessels was redefined from dedicated support vessels for each installation, to a model where most installations share the same vessel (“Strategy”). Shell contracts with multiple suppliers of vessels to support logistic requirements for its global assets. With multiple offshore locations needing supply from multiple port facilities, vessel demand can be irregular yet very high. Port facilities have limited storage capacity and coordinating scheduled arrival of material at base with the expected loading times becomes challenging.

Improving the utilization of vessel capacity, eliminating idle time, and coordinating and optimizing the demand through an IT tool was found to be imperative for the success of the strategy.

The Approach

To identify the components and the required inputs for Shell to create simulation models using the SIMIO Tool (“SIMIO”), a probabilistic vessel scheduling software. Use of SIMIO enabled predictive analysis for expected operations by optimizing voyages, proactively share vessels transiting to a common field area and enabling the business to maximize the vessel’s capacity for offshore asset material movements.

Modelers are able to use the simulation aspect of the tool to ascertain the validity of the model configuration and identify further opportunities to align to operational variances. Further, it helps to identify parameters that may be exposed for schedulers to adjust settings to better reflect “typical” operating conditions (e.g. Lift rates or bulk loading times, vessel transit speeds).

Using the models and iteratively-updated information, helps create schedules that allow for in-depth operational planning involving vendors, vessels and offshore locations. Using the latest weather, demand requirements, and vessel information, the IT tool optimizes the use of the vessel fleet and improves efficiency of port operations. Schedule data shows when materials need to arrive at the port, which vessels are to be loaded, expected load times, vessel transit routing and offloading times.

Resulting Schedules need broad visibility by Shell Internal resources and Third-Party External partners. This has been accomplished by periodic updation of the current schedule to Simio Portal (Web Facing Software-as-a-Service) where users can view their scheduled voyages for planning or confirmation purposes.

The Results

Outputs from the SIMIO are both varied and comprehensive. Summary statistics allow the user to quickly gauge the quality of a schedule based on metrics that drive operations. Gantt charts visually display details of each asset, slip, vessel, and demand item enabling the user to view the schedule from various perspectives. Exportable dashboards and detailed reports promote simple interpretation and constraint analysis. All outputs are customizable which allows the user to react to changing business objectives. When the schedule is finalized, it is published to a (secure) web portal.

Use of SIMIO assisted Shell with achieving a fit for purpose fleet size and contributed significantly to its ability to optimize vessel utilization.