How advanced technology integration can transform the Oil & Gas industry
There is a dearth of data mapping, analysis and real-time decision-making between the layers of IT applications and machines, as well as the systems used for actual operations.
New Delhi: The Oil and Gas (O&G) industry has long dealt with market volatility and price downturns. In the quest to discover what lies below the surface, the sector has learnt to deal with large volumes of data by leveraging information technology (IT). However, the ever-evolving technology landscape and COVID-19 led disruptions have put pressure on the energy industry to induce automation and embark on a journey to digital transformation at all levels of the operation cycle.While regions like North America and Europe are already leading the pack, the countries of Asia-Pacific (APAC) are fast catching up to leverage innovative technologies for achieving business goals. This is opening up new doors of opportunities to the Indian oil and gas industry as well.In the recent years, the O&G industry has adopted advanced machinery aimed at increasing yields. It also has been using information technology applications for managing and organizing data being generated from the front-end operations. At present, some of the leading industry players are even implementing new-age technologies to re-imagine business processes and drive actionable insights from the available data pool.Yet there is a dearth of data mapping, analysis and real-time decision-making between the layers of IT applications and machines, as well as the systems used for actual operations. It is this gap the O&G industry is looking to bridge by integrating the processes of information technology and operational technology (OT).Factors pushing for OT & IT convergence
IT/OT convergence is the integration of information technology systems – use for data-centric computing – with operational technology systems, which is used to monitor events, processes and devices. It is also used to bring necessary adjustments in enterprise and industrial operations. In order to address operational issues in real-time, the IT operations in a firm must be equally competent.IT enablers have been instrumental in bringing about automation in the oil industry, prompting the need for this IT-OT sync up with the disruption in demand-supply and prices. There are several factors which prompted the need for automation. Some of the accountable factors include changing customer experiences, practices and expectations, rapid advances in technology and disruption in demand-supply as well as commodity prices.The industry is aware and accepts the fact that the application of new-age technologies, such as AI, IoT and Big Data analytics, leads to faster and more accurate operational decision making. The adoption of advanced IT applications is set to play a key role in bridging the gap between upstream, midstream and downstream processes in the O&G industry using historical data analyses in real-time.Hence, there arises the need for IT & OT convergence – the catalyst driving digital transformation in the O&G industry.Key areas for IT & OT convergenceThe IT & OT convergence helps in real-time decision-making, reduction of risk and cost, higher accuracy, improved performance efficiency of machines, thereby making the operations in oil fields more digitized. The integration of IT and OT in the operations cycle will result in:- Increased extraction efficiency: The decision-making process becomes automated and is controlled by correlating data from multiple wells or sites. Pre-emptive equipment maintenance: It helps in lowering maintenance costs, increasing energy efficiency and pre-empting machine breakdown.
– Asset monitoring and tracking: Real-time tracking notifies delays and eliminates waste by enhancing the resource utilization. Workforce optimization: It ensures field force productivity, process digitization and remote support enablement.Like crude oil, unrefined data adds no valueData analytics plays a crucial role in IT & OT Convergence. However, it is important to consider a few factors while implementing IT/OT convergence in the O&G industry:
- Define data sets accurately
In order to gather real-time actionable insights, it is vital to understand the nature of data sets to achieve excellence in the areas described above. Some of the key data points that can be included are seismic activity and drilling logs; operational parameters such as drill bit RPMs and weight on bit; frack performance data; and production rates. The integration of data with the existing SCADA system also helps in reporting any issue in real-time and taking immediate action, if required.
2. Ensure data sets and the on-ground team is updated on a regular basis
Using data filters and updating data sets on regular intervals basis the location, machinery, technology upgrades and changes in expectations is equally important. In addition, it should be ensured that the engineering team on the ground is well acquainted with using appropriate keywords and data sets to derive accurate insights from the data analytics application.
3. Take measures on cybersecurity
According to studies done by multiple international accredited societies the combined use of the Internet, industrial automation and control systems for remote assistance can make production equipment exposed to network-related vulnerabilities. As the cybersecurity threat landscape continues to pose new challenges, it is necessary to strengthen data security to avoid data breaches or complete wipe outs.
With the business environment undergoing a rapid digital transformation, there is a need for the integration of information technologies with operational technologies. We can safely say that digitization and the convergence of IT & OT into a single line of action will continue to serve the industry in the long run. However, for impactful data analysis, oil and gas companies will need to integrate technology architecture, business-IT engagement and talent in data analytics.
[This opinion piece was authored by Mukul Singhal, Global Business Unit Head (Delivery & Operations), Energy and Utilities, Birlasoft]