Disruptive technologies have the potential to help enterprises edge out their competitors. Done right, it can change the way you do business and engage customers. It can even deliver services that would make it easier for you to achieve your goals.
In the oil and gas sectors, there are several relevant disruptive technologies, but which ones should you be focusing on? These disruptive technologies can spell the difference whether or not you can endure adverse market conditions. It is imperative for operators to unlock the latest technologies that could help them keep afloat.
The oil and gas industry is still reeling from decades and decades of bad cost management and the lack of standards. Thus, digitization became an all-important word within the industry, and a lot of oil companies are talking about the benefits it brings.
Oil prices are now rising, and this is the best time to innovate and adopt the technologies that most oil companies have been neglecting. But which technologies should these companies first look at? And how will these affect the oil industry?
Machine learning and artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence can take both unstructured and structured data, and tries to analyze these to see if there are correlations, trends, and insights that you can gain from it. It makes sense of data in such a way that no other technology could. Programmers can even come up with algorithms that would allow artificial intelligence not just to make sense of data but also improve as time goes by.
Artificial intelligence that are built with a certain purpose, and is developed in a transparent manner, can be a big part of disruptive technologies, especially since the oil sector now has an aging workforce. Experts working in the industry will soon be retiring, and this means that their knowledge would also leave the company.
With artificial intelligence, machines will be learning how to think like these experts. Their inputs are going to be used to come up with algorithms to work with all the data. Artificial intelligence will be able to think and decide like these experts with the data available to them. The new generation of employees would benefit from that and this can help ensure that safety is maintained.
It is no exaggeration to say that artificial intelligence and machine learning is the future of the gas and oil industry. It can help drive down costs by re-assigning people from offshore operations to onshore and making oil production a whole lot more efficient.
Expect that oil and gas companies will be starting small and proceeding slow when it comes to artificial intelligence. Most oil companies would probably want to start with something simple, and then just add more algorithms to their artificial intelligence initiatives.
Cloud computing and edge computing
Cloud computing has made oil and gas companies more agile and flexible, enabling these organizations to develop new capabilities and then scale them out with ease without having to spend too much on infrastructure. As such, cloud computing has made it easier for these companies to innovate all throughout the value chain. Cloud computing has also enabled these organizations to access, share, and process data from one central location.
The Internet of Things (IoT), as well as sensors, gave oil and gas firms the ability to look at how different parts of their operations are doing, even in real-time. And this has given rise to the use of edge computing for these firms. Edge computing has made it possible for oil and gas companies to process their own data at the source, and this has made it easier to automate processes, improve safety, and increase their efficiencies.
In offshore locations, which often include remote locations or places with harsh conditions, the cloud might not be an option because of the limitations in communication channels. Edge computing can still enable their facilities to process and analyze data and conditions, without having to send all of these data onshore.
Cloud computing, however, is still necessary to standardize and scale different innovations, as well as to make sure that control standards are in place. It also lowers the chance of data and security breaches.
Augmented, virtual, and mixed reality technologies
Devices that have visual or audio recognition technologies can be used in remote locations. This would help oil and gas companies to ensure that the machineries are doing what it is supposed to do without needing to send humans to inspect them.
There are now many devices that these companies can get, primarily because mobile devices have become increasingly more powerful, affordable, and smaller over the years. The only problem is that it might be a challenge to make sure that these mobile devices are safe. Some examples of devices and technologies include augmented reality headsets and augmented reality glasses.
Blockchain will be big for oil and gas companies. Right now, enterprises in this industry transact and share information with each other. If they use a collaborative solution that utilizes blockchain technology, oil and gas companies will gain a way to record transactions transparently, thereby lowering the chances for disputes. Management is also easier because no single company would own the blockchain; instead, management becomes a shared responsibility.
Admittedly, blockchain is still a new technology and not all oil and gas firms are on board just yet. Deloitte’s Mark Koeppen, David Shrier, and Morgan Bazilian lament that blockchain is still only known to most industry executives as the technology behind Bitcoin, rather than a technology that they could use. It needs to start small and there should be demonstrable proof that blockchain can help. Deloitte suggests that companies should first take a look at how blockchain can be used for a particular firm first.
Deloitte further suggests that use cases for blockchain should focus on:
- Promoting transparency and compliance
- Fighting security and cyber threats
- Lowering inefficiencies involving third parties, such as decreasing or eliminating the need for brokers, or incidents of fraud.
- Smart contracts
Photo courtesy of Maersk Drilling (Flickr).