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The Coming Wave of Technology in the Oil and Gas Industry

The Coming Wave of Technology in the Oil and Gas Industry

Little by little, industries are going digital. For the oil and gas industry, "going digital" isn't as easy as going paperless or moving all of your operations online. In oil and gas, large parts of your process are anchored firmly in the physical world.

With tankers, rigs, refineries, factories, and large crew counts that span time zones and continents, oil and gas will never be completely digital. But in a field so influenced by factors outside of your control, like price forecasts and current affairs, technology is growing increasingly important.

Oil and gas companies have always used cutting-edge advancements to adapt to new business climates. From 3-D modeling to mapping and analytics, you aren't strangers to innovation. Technology has helped oil and gas companies grow better and stronger across the entire supply chain.

So what's on the horizon for oil and gas tech? From containing costs to managing projects, budget projections and boosting operational efficiencies, digital technologies are bringing on the next wave of innovation and transformation. Here's a breakdown of these industry advancements:

  1. Predictive Maintenance – According to a recent McKinsey study, advanced analytics, drones, and sensors are revolutionizing maintenance within the industry. By anticipating maintenance problems and equipment wear-and-tear, you can discover problems before they cause malfunctions and downtime. The study notes, "the potential impact of using advanced analytics for predictive maintenance is a decrease in maintenance costs of up to 13 percent." From drones that inspect hard-to-reach sites, to Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for scanning pipelines for damage, you'll see an uptick in smarter predictive maintenance.

  2. Financial Modeling – Asset management systems make up a large chunk of oil and gas IT spending. In fact, Research and Markets predicts that global IT spending in the industry will be worth $48.5 billion by the year 2020. Thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), companies are adopting sensor technology that allows a more complete collection and analysis of huge amounts of data. This data can enable companies to build out better financial models, based on performance over fixed fees. With more sophisticated projections, companies can work smarter and more flexibly.

  3. Personnel Accountability – Companies like BlackBerry AtHoc have industrial solutions that can now add a new element to personnel accountability. Legacy badging systems used to be inadequate when accounting for guests, visitors, and contractors. If you have a legacy badging system that scans your employees, AtHoc Account can incorporate everyone scanned into their database. With contractors, lone workers, visitors, and guests all badging in, BlackBerry AtHoc can ensure that they are all accounted for and notified in case of an emergency. Oil and gas companies can now expect to safeguard 100% of their people for all of their physical sites.

  4. Cloud-based Infrastructure and Computing – For administration, HR, headcount, analytics, mapping and seismic measurement, and process optimization, oil and gas companies will continue to move into the cloud. Cloud-based infrastructure can be more efficient than trying to gather information from a bunch of different systems in disparate locations. Oil and gas companies that adapt and become more agile with the cloud will see better results.

  5. Electrolytic Wastewater Treatment – With new environmental rules and regulations being issued all the time, oil and gas companies are motivated to find sustainable processes. Sustainability can save money - it's estimated that the American oil and gas industry will need to invest close to 160 billion dollars to protect the environment and meet environmental legislation. One crucial area for improvement is water production, which is increasing in volume and contains oils and toxic chemicals. Electrolytic wastewater treatment can remove oils and toxic particles to reduce pollution. Companies will be increasing their use of this technology and other sustainability measures to adapt to climate legislation.

  6. Rig Robots – To lower costs, oil and gas companies are embracing advances made in the robotics field. Robots can speed up certain jobs on oil rigs by as much as 25 percent. One company, Liquid Robotics, has created robots that patrol offshore installations. HoneyBee Robotics has created small pipeline inspection robots. By removing costs and risks associated with lone workers in remote locations, oil and gas companies can allocate resources to other areas. As much as possible, automating operations on a rig is an attractive prospect in the industry.

The ultimate goal for oil and gas companies is to change with the times, and innovate in a way that cuts costs, removes risk, and minimizes wasted personnel and resources. Also, in this increasingly complex environment, oil and gas managers with a better handle on the micro operations of their companies will prosper. With new research and developing platforms growing more sophisticated, you could be seeing the next wave of the oil and gas tech boom.

Oil and gas industry leaders named their top challenges as relating to infrastructure and personnel safety. Learn more about the health and safety challenges and trends in the oil and gas industry.

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