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The necessity for systems engineering within the oil and gas industry

Systems engineering has been shown to be an effective discipline in formalising engineering project methodology for the purpose of minimising risk and maximising quality for a given spend.

It is now routinely and successfully deployed in many industries, having begun in aerospace and been adopted by rail, defence and other capital-intensive industries. Recognition of the discipline is growing and a number of universities now offer systems engineering modules or courses to reflect the change in demand for the skills.

Systems engineering, however, has not been widely adopted in the oil & gas industry, despite recognition of the potential benefits. Many reasons have been cited, including a  lack of suitable material to identify an approach that would be applicable to the oil & gas industry. 

A framework for engineering practice that meets the below aspects is required:

  • Assistance in the identification of the needs of all stakeholders
  • Consideration of the complexity and commercial challenges within the oil & gas industry
  • Development of a product against the identified needs
  • Integration and assessment of complex system interfaces
  • Comparison of performance attributes for review against the identified needs.

The systems engineering approach meets these criteria. It facilitates the development of new and existing technology to new, or broader, applications. With clear feedback mechanisms in place, it can lead to a clear understanding of the project technical and commercial trade-off, and agreement by the full range of stakeholders.

The survey shows that many individuals within the oil & gas industry believe that developing the industry’s understanding of systems engineering is of great potential benefit for delivering high quality products and services, within budget and time constraints.

Moreover, the competencies required to deliver a project in this manner align with those identified by the Engineering Council, and can provide a framework for good engineering practice.


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