Wednesday, 12 February 2014 16:31

Data deluge hits oil, gas industry but technology adoption slow

By *David Dickson
David Dickson, Honeywell David Dickson, Honeywell

In Australia and around the world, businesses across industries are faced with a myriad of challenges to growth, sustainability and profitability. This includes the oil and gas sector, which is confronted with daily pressures to improve reliability, productivity, production and safety. Oil & Gas producers must also compete in an increasingly rigorous environment marked by intensifying regulation, declining supplies and recovery, and an ageing workforce, among other issues.

Many within the industry agree that the era of “easy oil” is over. Current production rates satisfy existing market requirements, but with demand growing by an average of 1-1.5% per year, oil production in previously prohibitive environments is now being considered.

Increasingly, oil and gas exploration will be based in some of the world’s most remote places, and often difficult to access.

At Honeywell, we’ve worked with customers operating multiple production facilities spread over vast geographical distances and sometimes hazardous environments. We know that customers in these scenarios find it difficult to ensure the safety of plant personnel and production assets, or share valuable information and best practices. Plus, remote facilities often operate independently from one another, making it even harder to share learnings and to achieve optimal productivity levels across the whole network.

But despite all the challenges of a remote environment, there are solutions that can help businesses optimise their exploration and production process, improve collaboration across distance as well as overall business profitability. Now, more than ever, the use of data by oil and gas operators is critical for streamlining operations and maintaining business advantage.

Over the past decade, oil and gas companies have indeed sought to use next-generation technology to help overcome their critical operating challenges. But despite some very important advances, the industry has not widely adopted the latest available solutions.

Despite technology being available, a common theme we hear from our customers is that they are struggling under the sheer volume of data their operations generate. Multiple applications and spreadsheets are typically used to manage production, monitor processes and make operating decisions. These systems are usually isolated or linked with complex, custom interfaces that make it difficult to use the data and maintain its integrity. As organisations strive to make more effective decisions, there is a need to integrate these systems and applications together, but the complexities of trying to integrate data silos can be extremely overwhelming. Businesses need to work with data providers that understand the complex nature of the process industries, not just the data itself.

With advanced technology, companies can make more agile decisions, drive intelligent operations and solve key challenges. Operations management can progress from data to decisions faster with visual key report analysis and diagnostic data, and then act on knowledge in a systematic manner. This also helps plants to stop reinventing and start reusing assets and procedures in order to squeeze more value out of current investments.

Data solutions provide the means to streamline workflows across the plant, improve personnel productivity, and reduce interface cost and complexity. Capturing expert knowledge in a repeatable set of actions facilitates collaboration across functional silos and geographic boundaries, and can enable staff reductions in remote locations.

Furthermore, organisations with access to the right information at the right time are able to iidentify opportunities for optimisation and avoid problems that previously passed unnoticed. Plus, they transition from locating and analysing information to taking action on it more quickly.

Data is the lifeblood of every industrial organisation. For operators in the oil and gas industry in particular, the ability to see, understand and act on the relationships between critical data is key to creating a competitive advantage, and this can only be achieved when all applications and underlying data are united. Once organisations do this, they can identify and take advantage of opportunities earlier, mitigate potentially damaging plant events and make confident business decisions.

*David Dickson, Global Market Leader – Oil & Gas, Honeywell Process Solutions

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