One of the most investment-intensive industries in the world, oil and gas, is catching up with cloud-based and big data technology to ensure sustainability.
Five years ago the topic of technology in the oil and gas sector was focused primarily on horizontal drilling techniques, shale production, ultra-deepwater pre-salt exploration, and Floating Producing Storage and Offloading units.
Today the discussion has turned to machine learning, big data, and artificial intelligence.
Such technology is being used in every step of the production process.
Oil and gas producers have adopted cloud solutions for secure information storage, and the latest technologies are being used to communicate securely and ensure safety aboard platforms as well as for the management of their equipment supplies.
But cutting edge solutions are often deployed unevenly.
Europe and North America are by far the most advanced regions in the world for the uptake of technology in the energy sector.
Stronger regulation and standards for safety compliance have meant that over the past year and a half, worker location tracking, drone technology, and project-management tools have become integral elements of many oil and gas operations. This has allowed for unprecedented data tracking and a new level of control over activities in the sector.
It is interesting to see that the oil price collapse that started in 2014 hasn’t stopped firms from adopting new technology.
When oil prices are high companies are more keen on investing in innovation, but when the price plummets these solutions are seen as cost cutting mechanisms, remaining attractive for corporations seeking economies of scale to maximize profit.
The fact that these technologies are deployable remotely means that adoption is highly accelerated and the cost of system integration is reduced.
This applies both to operational management and to training.
TBY spoke with two senior members of Initiafy, a leading provider of contractor management software for the oil and gas industry, to find out about their expectations for the future of the industry.
Sean Fennell, CEO of Initiafy, stated that for his venture, “the future is [in] connecting data from other companies that are experts in their own fields. There will be more apps and more user integration, and technology will continue to help keep work processes more integrated from one vendor to another, until everything is fully automated.”
Focusing as well on the challenges and opportunities these new technologies present, his colleague, Ronan O’Sullivan, who is Group CTO at Initiafy, flags digital identities as a subject that will severely affect the deployment of these technologies in the industry.
“We have seen, even in areas where technology isn’t advanced, that everybody at this stage has an email address, mobile phone, or social network account,” he said.
“The ownership of data and the management of the data that makes up your identity are becoming important issues, especially when one considers the kind of integrations we are talking about. If we look at all of the pieces of software that are used in oil and gas or construction, then how we establish worker identity and tie it into who we believe they are, and who our integrated partners believe they are, and how we share data, is going to be an enormous part of what we do and what future technologies have to cope with.”
The future of technology adoption in the energy sector seems set to continue unabated in 2019.