What to Expect: Digital Transformation in Oil and Gas

The oil and gas industry, among other traditionally capital intensive industries like transportation, mining, agriculture, and energy, is seeing unprecedented change in day to day business operations. What used to be a simple equation: drill for oil, deliver it to customers, make money, is now infinitely more complex due to emerging technology. This has caused many companies to adopt small, incremental, and unsystematic technology advancements that only lead to minor increases in performance procedures.

To capture the full benefit of today’s technology, oil and gas companies need to revolutionize their approach to innovation and embrace new, digital ways of doing business with emerging technology. So what are some of the technologies most heavily impacting today’s oil and gas companies?  

Sensors and Monitoring
Limitations like lack of mobility and connectivity previously made sensors an expensive proposition for heavy industry. Today, these technologies have been broadly adopted and are standard across industries. For instance, modern offshore drilling platforms have about 80,000 sensors, which are forecast to generate approximately 15 petabytes (or 15 million gigabytes) of data during an asset’s lifetime.

Sensors allow oil and gas companies to more closely monitor their machinery for operational efficiency, maintenance, output and more, remotely.

Data Analytics
Moving beyond pure data capture to higher value insights from that data, enables oil and gas companies to make better business decisions based on real-time information. From drilling parameters to geological models, oil and gas companies can use this information to optimize their operations. A top focus for oil and gas companies, 38 percent plan to invest in data and analytics over the next three to five years.

When used comprehensively, this data can be used to increase productivity, operations and inform their approach to the market.

Robotics and Automation
Robotics and automation have become household terms when it comes to increasing productivity and decreasing cost. In fact, a report by International Data Corporation states that the global robotics market will be worth $135.4 billion in just two years.

The expectation is no different for the oil and gas industry. From automating the connection of drill pipes, to remote drilling and remote maintenance by drones, robotics is increasing efficiencies and worker safety in the oil and gas industry. BP in particular has seen the fruits of automation by decreasing the time of pipeline checks from one week to 30 minutes by moving from humans to drones.

VR and AR
Digital transformation is causing concern for aging workers in nearly every industry. By 2035, 47% of jobs across industries will be replaced by automatic robotics, AI or expert systems. But that doesn’t mean all workers have to be out of a job. Virtual reality and augmented reality provide experiential training which improves efficiency of skills transfer and increases knowledge retention. Specifically for the oil and gas industry, this can be seen in:

  • Immersive 3D training environments
  • Offshore virtual technology training
  • Operator essentials training
  • Virtual training field trip
  • Oil field visualization and simulation

While digital technology is transforming the oil and gas industry, it is also enabling smarter decision making, increasing productivity, decreasing operational cost and creating a safer work environment. To compete in the future, oil and gas companies must work with emerging technology companies to embrace digitization.

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