While the oil & gas industry has historically stayed true to its traditional methods, it’s unfair to claim that the energy field is technology-averse. After all, towering flare stacks, sprawling well pads, and miles of pipeline had to be cleverly engineered for optimal safety and proper use. But the 21st century brings a host of supply chain and demand challenges coupled with a shift in consumer preferences. And with rapid digitalization occurring, it will be nearly impossible to remain analog.
So how will the industry adapt to these changes? Will we see an inevitable digital transformation? How will big data play a role? Let’s take a look at new digital technology gaining traction within oil & gas.
AI, ML,& IoT
To make long-held processes faster and more efficient, oil companies are turning to AI, Machine Learning (ML), and the Internet of Things (IoT). Oil & gas professionals can automate site exploration, oil production, and risk management operations with a plethora of data fed into various software and algorithms. Gauging environmental or financial risk, alerting administrators to equipment issues, and running test simulations for decision-making are all clear and repeatable applications in the field. Further, enabling digital transformation, predictive analytics, or 24/7 monitoring of assets can significantly affect overall site performance. These tools also reduce the risk of human error, and with it, labor costs.
Smart Grids & Remote Sensing
Similarly, so-called “smart grids” and meters are mutually beneficial for both producers and consumers. While not specific to oil & gas, this innovation presents a seismic shift in the way we think about energy. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, “‘Smart grid” technologies are made possible by two-way communication technologies, control systems, and computer processing.
These advanced technologies include advanced sensors known as Phasor Measurement Units (PMUs) that:
- Allow operators to assess grid stability
- Create advanced digital meters, giving consumers better information
- Automatically report outages
- Automatically relay sense and recover from faults in the substation
- Enable automated feeder switches that reroute power around problems
- Store excess battery energy, making it available later to meet customer demand.
Not only is this method more environmentally sustainable, but it also gives more power, both literally and figuratively, to the consumer.
Robotics & Drone Technology
Within the production phase, no technology is more valuable than drones and ground robotics. Rather than using humans for manual inspections of sites and assets, these tools can do the same work in just a fraction of the time. This remote data collection is essential for regulated surveillance and maintenance, whether in the air, underwater, or on the ground. At DroneDeploy, we’re continuing to push the boundaries of site reality and data capture and look forward to a fully-autonomous job site. If you’re interested in drone use for oil & gas, watch our webinar on what’s next for drones in energy, or cut right to the chase, and contact us.