New technologies can assist the oil sector in managing a shrinking labor force and rising demand.


FREMONT, CA: Technology continues to emerge at a record pace, causing oil and gas producers to increasingly depend on a secure, robust communication network to help exploration, production, and wellhead processes. Transitioning to a digital oilfield is significant for these energy firms to help realize and establish an effectively connected enterprise and continue to fuel innovation offshore and onshore. As new digital technologies are cultivated and deployed into daily operations, oil and gas firms need to better access, understand and analyze the data coming from these assets. Here is more to it.

For advanced technology to be extensively adopted also needs cultural and organizational change. The offshore sector has used surveillance and some remote control elements for several years. Still, the acceleration of this process towards remote and virtual operations marks a vital step forward on the journey. The energy market has conventionally positioned itself on the conservative end of the adoption curve. The inherent disadvantages of operational size and legacy systems have resulted in uncertainty about safely adapting and combining new technology.

Current market conditions, compounded by the social distancing measures, have resulted in a unique crossroads that all offshore operators must face. Less capacity for available staff, better costs, and the difficulty of transporting people to and from remote sites are forcing them to adapt rapidly. This new normal enables previously sacrosanct subjects to be approached and several solutions to be considered. The last few months have seen the innovation in technological acceptance pushed forward by months or even years. 

The connectivity factor of the digital oilfield was changing before the pandemic. A few years ago, the focus was on crew welfare and how to monetize bits and bytes with new applications. At the more technology-powered end of the market, seismic survey vessels perform edge processing of data and connect to the cloud rather than share data for analysis ashore. The oilfield is not a distant dream. It needs to happen now in the Covid-19 environment; cultural resistance to technological change cannot excuse reduced safety standards or higher costs.