Push for greater operational efficiencies to drive digital adoption in oil and gas

A requirement for greater operating efficiency will be a key driver for oil and gas companies to adopt digital technologies and applications, with executives seeing potential in solutions that combine data and analytics.

That’s among the key findings from a PwC sector study, supported last month by research from MarkNtel Advisors that predicts market growth between 2021-2026 of around 23 per cent for the Internet of Things (IoT) within oil and gas.

To advance digital transformation, companies can embrace technologies and applications that have potential to transform company-wide operations, from the back office to plants and production sites, noted the study by Strategy&, PwC’s strategy consulting business.

“These digital applications are able to integrate real-time data and advanced analytics for better decision-making and underpin applications that can dramatically improve efficiency and sustainability.”

Strategy& surveyed more than 200 oil and gas companies in 2020. They discovered that oil and gas executives see greatest potential in technologies that combine data and analytics.

The top five include:

  • Manufacturing execution systems (MES) that link pieces of equipment to enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, to help co-ordinate operations;
  • Cloud computing that allows companies to manage large volumes of data generated in operations and improves data quality, data availability and single-source transparency across complex value chains;
  • Energy analytics that support optimization of energy use and costs within operations;
  • Connectivity and IoT in which machines carry sensors that support remote performance monitoring and efficient equipment integration; and,
  • Machine learning to analyze data and identify operational patterns and shortcomings that can be used to improve efficiency, for example, in predictive maintenance.

Based on these findings, the study authors said that “industry leaders anticipate digital applications will deliver on average a 10 per cent increase in revenue due to increased production and reduced time to project start-up, and an 8.5 per cent decrease in costs from improved operational efficiency, over the next five years.”

Adopting cloud-based collaboration platforms and applications in development/engineering is named in PwC’s Strategy& study, released earlier this year, as one of the top business priorities when driving digitization. Usage of cloud solutions may accelerate “project concept selection” and “streamline the transition from development project to production operations” and reduce risk associated with those activities.

Cloud computing can also help data management.

“Although the O&G sector has always generated and used large volumes of data in discrete operations, leveraging data of different vintages from multiple sources is a huge challenge,” said the report authors. “Advances in cloud computing provide a unique opportunity to organize data to ensure that the right people (including suppliers) have the information they need at the right time.”

geoLOGIC systems ltd., the Calgary-based provider of Canadian subsurface data and analytics, recently launched gDC Cloud to help address these issues.

“Trying to collect and collate all incoming data — let alone make sense of it all — is a major undertaking for even the largest firms,” said geoLOGIC chief executive David Hood.

“It is vital to understand how data is being accessed within an organization, and to what extent it is being integrated into workflows.

“Cloud and other digital solutions improve knowledge sharing and collaboration. Cloud services are also highly flexible and scalable and help ensure that all teams across an organization — whether operating remotely or at head office — can access a single source of truth in terms of data.”

geoLOGIC’s gDC Cloud solution gives users instant access via the cloud to its data and visualization tools. The workflows within gDC Cloud are designed to be primarily map driven to enable visualization of results during and after data discovery. Hood said that cost savings can also be found — the reliability of cloud computing results in less downtime due to the automation of many processes and the completion of updates to data and software without outages.

For E&P operators, using data to drive operational efficiency is a key goal based on a Daily Oil Bulletin member survey earlier this year. According to respondents, operators are focused on managing costs, improving project planning and ensuring capital is deployed where it can deliver the most immediate return. Nearly 70 per cent of E&P data users incorporate some third-party data in their workflows, with one-third of data users almost always leveraging third-party data.

PwC’s Strategy& study noted that — given a range of pressures facing the industry — it was important for oil and gas companies “to accelerate the adoption of digital technologies and applications, since these are among the most crucial tools they can employ to address efficiency and sustainability challenges and to improve profitability and resilience to future market volatility.”

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