Oil & Gas executives are currently stuck between a rock and a hard place. On the one hand, they are expected to weather the storm of Covid-19 and see the US into a prosperous new age of energy supply whilst on the other, they aren’t being afforded the support necessary to implement these changes.
Covid-19 has led to an unprecedented drop in demand where oil and gas are concerned and whether that’s due to changes in consumer behavior, decline in travel and the global shutdown of much economic activity, its effect has been far reaching.
Oil and gas are clearly at significant risk of collapse, experiencing its third price fall in 12 years. Where the industry was able to jump back before however, the outcome this time is less certain. To this end, the power lies with the executives and industry leaders to help lead their organization’s and industry away from their current course.
Oil and Gas Technology
Historically, the Information Technology (IT) concerns of the enterprise and the Operational Technology (OT) activities of the process control departments within the Oil and Gas industry acted independently. However, the industry is changing. With digital transformation well underway, new technologies can help make operations safer, more productive, and efficient. The time for executives to reassess is now.
After first establishing the technical infrastructure for organizational change, executives should prioritize the digital tools necessary for the standardization, harmonization & optimization of the business. The following represent the digital technologies that executives in oil and gas are currently leaning towards:
- AI – Artificial Intelligence, and automation tools in general, are of significant interest in 2020. The uses are numerous and help with surveying and continuous monitoring, planning, forecasting, and improving safety. This can even help with operational purposes, for example ExxonMobil are working on self-learning submersible robots that can assist with exploration.
- Big Data & Data Analytics – Though we’ve discussed this already, big data can take 3D seismic surveys, drilling data, production data or the insights gained through monitoring production facilities and turn it into actionable information which drives change. This information technology can obviously be used to support the development of more efficient operating tools.
- Internet of Things & Electronic Monitoring – Describing the extension of internet connectivity between physical devices and everyday objects, IoT technologies will center around improvements in efficiency and safety. For example, integrating IoT into offshore equipment can help employees to track and monitor lifespan as well as other issues which effect production, e.g. wave heights, temperature and humidity.
Operational technology involves tools which help the oil and gas industry to tackle their daily challenges more effectively, whilst increasing efficiency & ease. Executives are prioritizing the following:
- 3D Virtual Modelling – With the assistance of mobile mapping and laser scanning technologies operators can generate virtual models of oil wells and outcrops which can then be interrogated by experts to judge the validity of new projects, or used for classroom and training aids for new staff that need to be upskilled quickly.
- Drone Technology – Obviously, drone technology will prove influential in the monitoring and inspection of both inaccessible and/or dangerous oil and gas facilities. By using drones, this dangerous manual inspection work can be undertaken remotely, significantly reducing threat to human life whilst reducing costs in the long-term.
- Equipment Improvements – This too is an obvious one but as technological upheaval increases, the quality of the tools received by staff members does as well. Drills, pumps, generators, cranes and lifting equipment will see improvements year-over-year which increase efficiency and the safety of the end-user. Executives must always be aware of these ongoing trends.
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