In the era of Industry 4.0 and Big Data, it may be hard to imagine that an industry as old and established as Oil & Gas has been leveraging technology and innovation since the years following World War II to optimize cost and improve throughput.
The launch of 3D seismic testing in the 1980s transformed the way data was being collected and analyzed,opening oil wells for drilling that were previously inaccessible. From the days of utilizing Cray supercomputers to today, where desktop computers and mobile devices make it possible to visualize data and make real-time, data-driven solutions remotely, the technology journey over the past 40 years has been rewarding.
The Digital Oil Field (DOF) strategy is focused around maximizing hydrocarbon production and minimizing operational cost while continuing to deliver shareholder value.
The process of transitioning from manual workflows to automated controls and remote operations capabilities has transformed the industry with major advancements in monitoring drilling equipment, real-time production monitoring and visualization, permanent downhole monitoring systems, real-time corrosion monitoring and alarm management.
"Digital Oil Field is not just about implementing new concepts and technologies. It is a business transformation that requires an organizational and cultural change to rethink outcomes and execute highly connected business processes across the value chain"
Additionally, automated workflows have led to collaborative work environments where data and information can be processed and analyzed, and decisions can be made in a centralized location. Mobile devices have made it possible to instantly communicate across the value chain and ensure that resources can be focused on wells and situations that require immediate attention. From Smart Wells to workflow automation, we have seen the DOF benefits of lower cost, improved production and safety across the industry.
Opportunities and Challenges
The current phase of Digital Oil Field 2.0offers the opportunity to drive significant transformation by leveraging data and moving from descriptive analytics to more predictive and prescriptive analytics. The Internet of Things (IoT) and Services will continue to enable companies to leverage global networks, utilize real time data and build an integrated value chain. With Big Data comes the ability to optimize processes and enable machine learning to constantly predict and improve performance. Building digital twins can further support process simulations and predictive and prescriptive analytics by providing the ability to enhance operating efficiency by maximizing asset uptime and improving throughput. The ability to leverage blockchain technology for supply chain management, especially with smart contracts, can advance the total system optimization by creating a collaborative partnership across the value chain.
Much can be accomplished by moving toward digital transformation. However, there are also challenges to overcome with regards to security, data integrity, sensor effectiveness, existence of robust business processes, developing trusted value chain partnerships, addressing protocols and standards, regulatory frameworks, and resource training and availability, to name a few.
As we stand in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution – one that promises to change the way we do business within our companies and across the value chain, we will need to anticipate major changes in the abilities and expectations of our modern workforce, who are independent and extremely technology-savvy and seek real-time access to information. Companies who can embrace and adapt to the changing needs of their workforces, as well as their customers, will dictate future market strategies.
In recent years, we have seen new players such as Facebook, Google and Amazon enter and dominate marketplaces that once were nonexistent or managed by traditional brick and mortar stores. Additionally, service companies such as Uber and DoorDash have leveraged the gig economy concept to build asset-light, data-rich service sectors that are rapidly spreading to industries outside of transportation and restaurants.
As we look forward to the next phase of Digital Oil Field, one that incorporates the power of IoT, Cyber Physical Systems and Big Data across an integrated value chain, we see significant opportunities to redefine the Industry with disruptive technologies, redesigned business processes and truly collaborative work environments.
Digital Oil Field is not just about implementing new concepts and technologies. It is a business transformation that requires an organizational and cultural change to rethink outcomes and execute highly connected business processes across the value chain. This is a business transformation that promises to revolutionize the Oil &Gas Industry.