SAP support crucial to operators divesting assets in the North Sea

Rising mergers and acquisitions activity in mature fields across the UKCS has brought the need for SAP support to operators buying and selling assets into sharp focus. Don Valentine, commercial director at Absoft, says divesting is not just about handing over the keys to the drillfloor.

To deliver maximum value for a potential purchaser, operators are of course prepared to carry out extensive preparatory work to deliver not only platforms and all their accompanying equipment, but also transfer those contractors whose employment goes with the deal.

The task doesn’t stop there, the operator also needs to be in a position to transfer the vital back-office systems and processes which underpin every aspect of upstream exploration and production work on and offshore, to ensure that operations can continue uninterrupted.

Operators preparing to sell assets are recognising the importance of facilitating the seamless transfer of these back office systems and data to the buyer, and are taking the decision to carry out work pre-emptively – to the extent of pulling the asset in question out of its own system in advance of the completion of a deal, and maintaining it as a standalone system.

Generally speaking, each asset is contained within an overall company SAP ERP system, so during a divestment, a complex process to transfer to its new owner has to be undertaken.

Most importantly, the asset needs to transfer with its systems and processes set up to be able to continue 'business as usual', ensuring that production is maintained, without interruption.

By making the asset's ERP system standalone, it is essentially pre-prepared for porting into its new owner's IT landscape. Inevitably there will be updates to be made either to ensure it moves into the specific purchasing company's iteration of SAP, or if it is being ported into a different ERP package such as, Maximo or SUN.

Absoft has been involved in the migration and integration of data for operators across a range of merger and acquisition activity, including the purchase of independents by larger entities, and on projects involving individual assets being sold from within an E&P portfolio.

Whilst migrating the data belonging to the asset for sale is a complex process it is realistic to estimate that work can be completed in as little as six- to eight-weeks for an SAP finance system, or more if a wider workscope is involved.

Ensuring that each key element of the ERP system, including: HR and payroll, plant maintenance, warehouse management and supplier relationship management; is extracted from the owner's core SAP system and remains efficient and fully functional when handed over to the purchaser, is our focus.

Absoft's vast experience and detailed knowledge of joint venture accounting and remote logistics management are further key considerations when beginning a migration project – they are crucial elements of any upstream exploration and production SAP system.

Delivering the asset is, however, only the first phase of the project. Following the transfer of ownership, the asset's SAP system continues to run in its own right and there will be a requirement for ongoing support as the purchaser integrates the new asset into its own system and aligns it with its processes.

Following the completion of the sale, we then move into a support phase, with our team of embedded SAP experts working with the purchaser to ensure the ongoing operational efficiency of the SAP system.

There should be no situation where those involved in carrying out primary operations related to that asset have to re-learn any elements of their work – the system should continue to operate as it had under its previous ownership.

At Absoft, our agility in terms of being prepared and capacity to deliver complete migrations within a very tight timeframe is supported by the strength of our own systems – as a provider of shared service systems to companies across the energy operator and supply chain landscape, we are able to offer hosting and ongoing support for those assets being divested.

Across the business, our service specialists are in a position to directly assist operators buying and selling assets – either as embedded SAP experts, or as remote SAP support providers to in-house SAP teams.

In all areas, our focus is on supporting the long-term efficiency and cost-effective operation of major assets as they move to a new stable environment – ensuring all parties see maximised return from their investment.