Over the last two decades technology has dramatically reshaped the operating landscape of the oil and gas industry, but for the industry to achieve the next leap in its road to digital maturity there needs to be an industry-wide buy-in to next generation digitalization and greater data sharing.
A steady stream of fluctuations in the oil and gas market has turned digital transformation and digitalization from an opportunity into a need – for companies to save millions from their operating costs and, most importantly, make their trillion dollar asset base smarter and more efficient. Oil and gas companies are increasingly recognizing the value of digital solutions and are already embracing the advances made possible by the digital revolution.
Innovative new technologies powered by big data have enabled industry players to operate more efficiently, increase productivity and enhance operational safety. However, the biggest and most impactful benefits of data have yet to be realized. Although oil and gas projects generate massive amounts of data, it’s often spread across multiple databases, spreadsheets, and servers. Due to its sheer volume and siloed storage, it lies under-utilized.
Data hoarding hinders industry innovation
Companies can be very territorial about their data and are reluctant to share with potential competitors.
“Pivoting to a data-driven culture is hard enough. Now we’re trying to change the mindset from competing to partnering. Data sharing is important. The context of what is around it is equally important. We should get to the point of sharing more data, but we are all looking for competitive advantage.” – Kentaro Kawamori, vice president and chief digital officer for Chesapeake Energy
The widely and oft used phrase, “data is the new oil”, goes a long way to explaining why companies tend to hoard their data. But, this limited view fails to take into account that data is only valuable when used properly. If fully utilized data can create value by helping engineers to find ways to reduce drilling costs, increase operational safety and efficiency, increase well production and to set new industry standards.
Building brilliant new digital tools, developing new processes and driving operational excellence on the back of big data will only generate the company limited benefits. The real value will be realised when data is combined together and all of it can be used democratically by everyone. Promoting initiatives to share and standardize data and software across the industry will benefit both individual companies and the wider industry. Even major players, who have massive databases of information, are likely to want to share their data in exchange for access to fresh data from another company.
Data sharing leads to industry innovation
Supermajor Equinor has led the way in terms of data sharing ever since it began offering public access to the data from a field off Norway called Volve. The release of this data directly led to the development of software to mine the field, and was also used by other companies to develop innovative products such as cutting-edge reservoir imaging software.
The UK Oil and Gas National Data Repository has also begun offering well, geographical, field and infrastructure data about the offshore UK. Although it’s still early days for data sharing it’s a step in the right direction. Platforms like FutureOn’s FieldTwin and FieldTwin Design bring together proprietary technologies and external data from our partners to enable easier access to the right tools that will accelerate projects and lead to financial savings. When data and application silos are reduced, efficiency and operational excellence will increase. Working together is more effective than going it alone, particularly in an industry that is under fire.