Another revolution… really?
There are probably too many revolutions happening in the oil and gas sector – the information revolution, the environmental revolution… and more. Is it hyperbole to suggest there is a revolution in the use of digital technology?
Yet, there are some commentators that go so far as to suggest that digital technology will be the saviour of the sector. Big talk. So, the key question is: what evidence is there to support this view that AI, cloud computing and connectivity, and robotics could rejuvenate a sector under pressure?
The problem we face
The oil and gas sector are not slow in realising the potentials of technology. However, the sector is like a turning oil tanker – the direction may be clear but the moves towards the new horizon are slow. There has been a tardiness in most parts of the sector to adopt the technological innovations that could transform the old, inefficient ways of doing business.
Some have said that there needs to be a rapid transformation to a new digital reality – or watch as the sector struggles into extinction. In short, the problem we face could be a case of innovate or die. The reason the problem exists at all could relate to high market prices that have helped some to hide inefficiencies – but how long can that continue?
The opportunity of digital
It might be a bit dramatic to say transform or die – but it is not an overstatement to suggest there is massive opportunity available to those willing to explore this new digital reality. Even though the move to new technologies might feel like a huge undertaking to some, it is something that could potentially bring even more riches.
Let’s keep it simple at first – let’s think about how cloud computing could massively improve business processes within the oil and gas sector. The amount of data that companies need to process now is almost absurd – harnessing this data and making it freely available to all professionals could reduce operational expenses as well as down well times. It could reduce risks inherent in gas and oil exploration, extraction and processing – as the whole supply chain could be transparent to all – in the field and in the head office.
But there are other more exciting opportunities in this new digital landscape. AI – or artificial intelligence – could allow companies to identify and predict inefficiencies. There are roles that could be automated – and the Internet of Things devices could be used to monitor and adapt to changing environmental contexts. Imagine a weather station that connects with your oil platform and automatically registers conditions that change the way the platform operates – in an instant – without the need for intervention by a fallible human being.
Then, at the extreme of this digital transformation is robotics. Although slow to begin in this area, the oil and gas sector is now leading the way in automating dangerous and repetitive tasks. These technologies have added value to companies and created new jobs within the industry. Some people may see this use of robotics as a threat to the worker at the front end of the industry – but it is also an opportunity for other workers in other areas. There can be no room for nostalgia or conservatism in modern business.
The digital revolution may be more of an evolution – and its importance may be vastly overstated – or it may be not. What is certain is that the new technologies do offer an opportunity for those in the gas and oil sectors to make efficiencies and improve processes that will impact on margins. This in turn could see the industry through a potential lean period and allow it to continue into a new age.
Exi Flow Measurement specialises in products for the gas and liquid measurement industry – manufacturing, researching and developing with a focus on continuous project development and enhancement. To speak to us about how we can help you, call +44 (0)1243 554920 or contact us here.