Advancing LNG planning – improving the future of a multi-billion dollar industry constrained by Excel

Author: Don Merritt, VP Operations Aucerna (Formerly 3esi-Enersight) Australia

Several of the world’s LNG producers reliably forecast production, optimally use capital and routinely make informed decisions across planning, operations and executive teams using Aucerna’s petroleum planning technology. Industry analysts, including Accenture and KPMG, have identified technology as one of several high-impact methods for oil and gas companies to manage and reduce the risk of the complex and cost-intensive factors of LNG production.

So why aren’t more LNG players seeking out integrated planning and scheduling technology? Why are so many producers struggling within the bounds of Excel? Why continue to maintain models they know are flawed at calculating and forecasting the complexity of a multi-billion dollar industry with more in common with manufacturing than conventional oil and gas?

• Read on: White Paper: The Efficiency Challenge of LNG Production

Perhaps word has not got out that technology can deliver reliable forecasts and inform decisions around the best use of capital. Here we aim to change that by sharing sound bites from LNG clients QGC and APLNG (Australia), Progress Energy (Canada) and Arrow (Trinidad and Tobago) on the advantages of using Aucerna for LNG production.


“No one rallies around a spreadsheet, never mind dozens of spreadsheets. Until you have planners, production and ops guys all in the same room looking at something that makes sense to each of them then you’re not going to solve issues faster than the competition.”

“When you model your whole network, you see the real problems and new opportunities. That perspective requires modelling complete assets, comprehensively and into the future. Then looking at Aucerna executives, operations and asset teams can foresee and solve issues.”


“Conventional oil and gas development modelling is based on estimating production at the well. But the scale and scope of LNG production means that the “well is right” view is fundamentally flawed. What’s needed is a system-wide calculation of production that incorporates a multitude of factors, across a complex network of facilities. Accurate forecasts will never come from spreadsheet models that provoke simplification. Excel necessitates layering in assumptions and lump-sum calculations of risks. Inaccuracy is a given.”


“Among the acceptable flaws in LNG planning is the break between long and short-term planning. Causing this break in part is that activity scheduling; the true daily activity is not tied into plans. That gap means plans can’t be fully optimized. It also means short-term plans drifts further and further from the long-term plan.”

“Once a year the planning team tries to formulate a long-term plan that connects with where the company exited the prior year – it’s part planning and part contrived connecting the dots. Then the next year, the process repeats.”


LNG’s capital intensity and complexity of operations and scheduling can drive producers to cling to inefficient but familiar processes. Companies like QGC, APLNG, Progress Energy and Arrow demonstrate however that gains in forecast accuracy, planning efficiency, and alignment between short and long-term plans are achievable, and actually ease decision-making and align teams. The fact that industry-leaders in LNG have already made the shift to integrated petroleum planning and scheduling means competitors must adapt or lag in performance.

Ask yourself – are you getting reliable forecasts from your inputs with facilities, pipelines, maintenance? If not, you need to move beyond the belief it’s not possible. Talk to us.

Other recommended reading:

The Efficiency Challenge of LNG Production – White Paper

LNG Critical Performance Factors in an Industry Coming of Age – Blog

Schedule a Demo.  Product Overview.

About the Author – Don Merritt – Vice-President, Australian Operation

Don heads Aucerna’s Australia operation, focusing on consulting and business development. A mechanical engineer by training, Don began his career as a reservoir engineer with Petro-Canada. He gained experience in developing international oil and gas fiscal models through his leadership positions with Merak’s Asian office and Schlumberger in Australia, Indonesia and Canada.

About Aucerna

Aucerna is the energy industry’s leading provider of solutions for integrated planning, operations and reserves. Today Aucerna is a global source of technology and expertise for the energy industry, serving more than 500 customers from 12 global offices. Aucerna proudly serves the industry’s largest base of customers, from super-majors and emerging operators to energy investors, consultants and education institutions. Aucerna solutions are deployed in every region of the globe, helping companies make better investment decisions by connecting the people and the data of the modern energy industry.