Lower oil prices have become the new normal in recent years. Oil & Gas (O&G) companies are feeling the heat, with plunging prices increasing the pressure to reduce costs, while improving productivity. As they look for newer ways to ‘deliver more with less’, companies are investing in ‘digital oilfields’ with renewed vigor.
Digital oilfields first came about 20 years ago, when technologies such as horizontal drilling and 3D seismic laid the foundations for the modern oilfield. O&G enterprises have since then adopted mature frameworks and more advanced applications, achieving increased productivity and efficiency. Examples of digital initiatives include, Chevron’s iFields, BP’s Field of the Future, and Royal Dutch Shell’s Smart Fields.
Today, we are witnessing the next wave of digital transformation in this area. A powerful combination of emerging technologies such as industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), Mobile Connectivity, Cloud Computing, Big Data Analytics, Augmented Reality, and Artificial Intelligence is driving vast improvements in the digital oilfield framework.
This is improving return on investments by reducing operating costs, increasing output, and eliminating unscheduled shutdowns. Given its growing prominence, the digital oilfield market is poised to surpass $30.7bn by 2020, with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 5% from 2015, according to Marketsandmarkets research.
Harnessing the digital advantage
Digital oilfields harness advanced information technology to optimize production, fleet, asset and utilization. Sophisticated information technology tools, backed by robust business process management, and customizable, automated workflows, can help integrate disparate oilfield processes, creating a steady stream of information to drive accurate and faster business decisions.
Apart from mobile technologies, advanced sensors and other IIoT equipment across the value chain can help you capture more real-time or near-real time data for effective and safer remote monitoring and control. This eliminates the need for manual intervention in remote onshore, deep and ultra-deep offshore areas, which could see heightened exploration activities as energy resources deplete.
A case in point is NuStar Energy, whose field employees use mobile technology to gather critical field data. The company is also able to improve remote monitoring of pressure and other metrics by applying digital sensors in pipeline supervisory control and data acquisition.
Actionable insights drawn from the data compiled, can enable smarter and quicker decision making, reducing the overall turnaround time. The end results include enhanced reservoir, well, and facility performance, reduced losses, as well as higher personnel and equipment safety. Furthermore, real-time analytics enables effective predictive maintenance, eventually reducing downtime and improving asset integrity.
How to realize optimum value from digital oilfield initiatives
The digital oilfield is your gateway to optimization and innovation. However, establishing a digital oilfield ecosystem is a formidable task of integration and optimization that requires a complete overhaul of existing workflows. You can build the next-gen digital oilfield by embracing these key steps:
- Adopt robust, scalable and upgradable technologies that will help you handle evolving business requirements
- Use innovative graphical tools to configure production networks and perform production allocation
- Leverage data visualization tools, strategic planning methodologies, and advanced forecasting tools
- Build performance dashboards and enhanced reporting capabilities to ensure greater transparency and visibility for the management and senior executive teams
- Build a centralized data warehouse to collect and share performance statistics with all stakeholders
- Redesign existing processes, and create collaborative working conditions
Above all, you need to break down silos, foster an enterprise-wide digital culture, and reimagine processes to be able to combat challenges, and achieve profitability in a challenging environment.
Realize better ROI with L&T Infotech
At L&T Infotech, we have developed a Digital Oil Field (DOF) Framework leveraging our MOSAICTM Digital Transformation Framework. Our DOF framework drives enhanced strategic and operational decision support by providing access to data on demand, facilitating proactive and timely business decision making. We also enable information integration, orchestration, governance and security for realizing accelerated benefits.
Our DOF framework can help O&G companies achieve between 1% to 2% increase in production levels, 2% to 4% reduction in operating expenses (maintenance and manpower), and around 1% to 5% reduction in asset downtime.