​Canadian oil and gas sector struggles to identify where to focus advanced technology investments

Nearly 90 percent of Canada’s oil and gas companies are ramping up investment in digital technologies as they seek to double down on cost-saving ambitions, but executives are struggling to decide which technologies to focus on, according to a new report from EY.

A survey conducted by the firm found that companies at large haven’t recognized the full potential of artificial intelligence and machine learning, with only 52 percent of executives reporting that they are currently investing.

EY said that AI and ML can help companies leverage data to improve areas such as truck maintenance planning and execution, well data analysis, material replenishment planning and optimization, safety and root cause analysis, hire to retire and more.

“Canadian oil and gas companies are trying to keep pace with US counterparts as reduced regulatory burden spurs capital spending and production south of the border,” said Lance Mortlock, EY Canada Oil & Gas Leader.

“In this competitive environment, companies must focus on areas of the business that are in their control, increasing investments in technology to continue improving operational efficiency to build a competitive advantage…AI and ML solutions have the potential to come to the fore, addressing age-old problems around cost, speed, quality and capability.”

Adoption rates are still low as companies contend with the need for highly skilled programmers and data scientists – professions that have not traditionally been prioritized in a sector that’s long been ruled by human operator, Morlock said.

“Leaders will need to work hard to quickly realign businesses to fully leverage the power of new technologies while developing the organizational capabilities of existing talent in order to immediately drive business value.”