While many industries have embraced technology and digital transformation, at times oil and gas has been slow to follow suit. However, that is now starting to change with the emergence of new trends. In particular, more companies are now beginning to see and understand the role technology has to play in driving efficiency and reducing costs in oil and gas.
For example, Mckinsey estimates that advanced connectivity alone “could add up to $250 billion of value to the industry’s upstream operations by 2030” simply by improving maintenance and operations.1
In this article, we’re going to examine the tech trends that are having the biggest impact on the oil and gas industry, and look at how they’re improving operating models and incident management. Let’s get started.
1. Big Data Analytics
Technological improvements in the oil and gas industry mean that companies now generate massive amounts of data from their operations. And within this data is information they can use to solve a variety of engineering, business, and safety problems.
For example, data provides in-depth information about industry trends, company costs, revenue, supplies, production, profit, and more. Companies can now utilise this data and advanced analytics to innovate exploration, safety, and optimise production at both a plant and supply chain level.
However, because there is so much data available, the challenge is not obtaining the data — it’s using it to draw insights that inform and facilitate better decision making processes. That’s why more companies are investing in technology that helps them process and analyse this data more efficiently, with a particular focus on safety, security, and extraction.
2. Moving to the Cloud
As oil and gas companies leverage data to improve operations, more are also moving this data to the cloud, where storage is simplified. Furthermore, due to the fact that data stored in the cloud can be accessed anywhere at any time, companies’ ability to utilise it to their benefit can be increased dramatically.
Furthermore, cloud computing also provides oil and gas companies with considerable cost savings and improvement in security when compared to managing an on-premise solution. As a result, the cloud computing industry has seen notable growth that has shown no signs of slowing down.
Beyond cost reduction, however, oil and gas companies are also adopting cloud computing because it supports the adoption of other technologies that have the potential to form part of a wider digital transformation programme. For example, cloud computing is the perfect platform for artificial intelligence (AI) and the internet of things (IoT), all of which make it easier for oil and gas companies to use their data to improve both their operational efficiency and security.
3. Automation and Robotics
Repetitive tasks like visual equipment checks of casing wells before drilling operations require a lot of time, resources and money. When you add up the time it takes to perform these monotonous but necessary tasks, you might find operators cutting corners in order to get the job done quicker — which can lead to unsafe working conditions that can result in more injuries.
As a result, more oil and gas operators are turning to automation and electronic monitoring systems for harmful or mundane tasks to reduce the likelihood of injury and improve productivity. For example, companies are using robotics to assist with round-the-clock surveillance and maintenance, ensuring that their human co-workers are kept out of harm’s way in the process.
Companies are also leveraging IoT to monitor and detect potential failures before they turn into a crisis. For example, sensor-based safety equipment (fire doors, automated valve shutoffs, self-sealing pipes) help reduce response times from minutes to less than a second during an incident or emergency.
4. Enhanced Communication
Today’s technological advancements provide a number of new ways for oil and gas employees to communicate with each other in order to improve incident response procedures.
For example, it is now possible to alert response teams, impacted personnel, and people in transit about an incident quickly and efficiently through email, SMS, or even mobile apps. These developments are helping companies minimise their exposure and accelerate the crisis management procedures they have already put in place.
Technological advancement also means that companies are able to monitor responses to all of their communications. As a result, companies are far better equipped to assess how and when escalation is necessary in the event of an incident or crisis.
Minimising workplace injuries and fatalities is a big concern for the oil and gas industry — and many companies are turning to wearable technologies to help them do just that. Companies are now using wearable sensor technology that is integrated into a larger network of sensors used to operate a facility, providing advanced warning to employees.
These sensors can detect gas leaks, provide the geo-location of employees, and even monitor employee health (body temperature, etc.). As a result, they can help cut response time for any safety incidents that may occur, as well as help companies utilise their workforce more efficiently during their day-to-day operations.
Employers across industries can now also continually monitor the location of individual members of their workforce with the help of wearables. This technology is becoming an increasingly important part of safety procedures and emergency response within oil and gas. Wearables facilitate real-time location awareness that improves safety in hazardous environments and in the last mile, better-informed incident response processes and increased efficiency.
Some companies are also leveraging augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to train employees on new equipment. Not only does this eliminate the potential threat of injury during training, but also reduces the time and costs required for training. For example, a Baker Hughes team replaced a turbine at a petrochemical plant in Malaysia using AR goggles, saving them five days in downtime and over $50,000 in labour.2
6. Digital Twins
A digital twin is a virtual representation of a machine or system that serves as a real-time representation of its physical counterpart in the field. They allow you to see how a process or system is working and create an analytical what-if model to help predict how and when something might fail.
Using digital twins helps oil and gas companies operate more efficiently. With the help of a digital twin, companies can prevent downtime, reduce maintenance costs, improve safety processes by accurately representing conditions, and highlight areas of risk, potential danger, and additional opportunities for natural gas extraction.
Digital twins can also help oil and gas companies prepare for the coming skills shortage. Since they create a secure repository for asset documentation, organisations no longer have to rely as heavily on the memory or expertise of their workforce.
As a result, more oil and gas companies are leveraging them to monitor their equipment and protect their teams. In fact, 74% of oil and gas companies are expected to adopt digital twins by 2025.3
Connectivity Creates Resilience
Technology promises to improve outcomes at all levels of the oil and gas sector in the long term, from the plant floor to the supply chain. But all of that technology has to work in harmony across all business areas to realise the full benefit it can provide.
For example, improving the health and safety of employees is a complex initiative that relies on effective planning and rapid incident response across maintenance, operations, engineering, and more. So in order to ensure that technology can help improve health and safety, connectivity is key.
That’s why we built Restrata Platform — to connect the people, real-time data, and processes of entire organisations through a single platform. Using the connectivity & functionality provided by Restrata Platform, you can convert fragmented systems into one end-to-end management solution that transforms safety, security & resilience, an outcome we call Connected Resilience™.
Book a demo of Restrata Platform today.