The oil and gas industry has been notoriously behind the times when it comes to using digital technology. An Innovation Enterprise recently cited a BP survey that found that oil executives say resistance to change is a key obstacle in helping the industry reap the benefits of digital technologies. The article summarizes the problem this way: “Oil and gas as an industry is traditional and has tried to stick to the tried and tested strategies rather than attempting to adopt disruptive innovations.”
That view is echoed in an article by Giorgio Biscardini, Eirik Rasmussen, Dr. Reinhard Geissbauer and Adrian Del Maestro in the PwC network, “Drilling for data: Digitizing upstream oil and gas,” which says, “The upstream oil and gas sector is well behind other industries when it comes to being digitally enabled. The iconic image of ‘roughnecks’ — overall-clad workers with oil-stained faces handling equipment on a drilling rig — has not changed much over the past few decades, even as the industry is recognized for its technological innovation.”
The article points out there are big benefits to the industry turning towards digital technologies. It estimates that “use of digital technologies in the upstream sector could result in cumulative savings in capital expenditures and operating expenditures of US$100 billion to $1 trillion by 2025.”
"Use of digital technologies in the upstream sector could result in cumulative savings in capital expenditures and operating expenditures of US$100 billion to $1 trillion by 2025"
The PcW article and an accompanying white paper, “Drilling in a digital world,” offers advice on how to reap those benefits, and details what it takes for oil and gas companies to transition from manual processes to digital drilling processes. They explain that doing that requires going beyond deploying new technology, and must encompass changing workflows and business management processes.
The article recommends that oil and gas operators embarking on “digital journey” should treat it as a business exercise rather than a technology-focused one. That means starting off by identifying their most important business challenges and assessing how digital technologies can help.
Next, companies need to recognize that digital technologies need to be embedded throughout their entire organization and culture. The article says, “Everything from strategy and capabilities to organizational structure and culture will need to be considered and potentially reconfigured to reflect a digitally enabled business.”
Beyond that, digital technologies must include stakeholders outside the company such as oil service providers, governments and contractors. And companies need to recognize there’s no one-size -fits-all template to follow. Instead, “Each company needs to develop its own specific digital transformation road map.”
To enable digital drilling, companies will have to change their workflows to incorporate a variety of digital tools, the “Drilling in a digital world” white paper notes. That also requires changing employees’ roles and responsibilities. Drilling and associated data needs to be captured via sensors, then stored in data warehouses and enterprise resource planning systems. The digital tools required to do this run the gamut from remote sensors to data collection tools, mobile technology including reporting and maintenance apps, and tie-ins to back-end systems.
What’s the Best Digital Platform for Enabling Digital Drilling?
To take advantage of digital drilling, oil and gas companies must have the best digital platform. Alpha TransForm is ideally suited for the task. It has the unique ability to rapidly create mobile-optimized forms and field apps that can easily access and integrate with existing databases and web services and can exploit built-in role-based security. It builds offline apps, vital for the oil and gas industry, and has frequently been used to write mobile apps for field workers.
View and download Alpha Software's pumpjack inspection app and watch a related webinar on how to customize it for your organization.
Read a case study on how one developer for a major oil drilling company built an offline-capable maintenance app for offshore oil platforms.