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Digital Oil and Gas Fields: Bridging the Gap

Oil & Gas Reinvented

Industry needs collaborative innovation to face future economic energy challenges.

The future of the oil and gas industry will depend heavily on the success of the ‘Digital Oil and Gas Field’ as technologies reduce risk, optimize production and contribute to more efficient operations.

When I mention digital oil and gas fields, which has become a bit of a buzzword in the industry, I am speaking about solutions such as Hint’s AML, process control, and online predictive maintenance technologies. The sensors, networks, simulation, optimization and potentially robotic-based innovations are being developed to make oil and gas fields both safer and more efficient. Taken together, such technologies are set to bring huge changes to the industry. Many large producers are now looking for such technology to help bridging the gap that still remains between the old, installed products and systems and the new, promising and more remote products and services of the future.

Long time coming
The technology behind the digital oil and gas fields has been a long time in the making. One of the earliest examples was the integrated modeling of flow through a pressure-connected network of reservoirs, wells, and surface production facilities. This type of integrated modeling was first introduced in 1976. As the maturity of the designs, the experience of digital oil and gas fields users, and the computing power all have increased, digital oil and gas fields implementations have begun to actively provide the kind of results they have always promised.

Safe and friendly
Digital oil and gas fields are being pushed, in part, by the need to help extract more difficult reserves while minimizing the damage and risks to the environment. Safety of workers and, especially those who must operate machines, is another key consideration. These fields are safer and result in a more efficient company and drilling site. Oil and gas companies are utilizing some form of digital technology for such reasons.

Tried and tested vs new and disruptive
Unfortunately, one of the impediments to the digital oil and gas fields is the industry itself, which is conservative, and has sometimes preferring to stick to the old methods rather than to adopt ground breaking innovations. However, this is a strategy that will only result in being left behind. The benefits are far too obvious to ignore. Putting in sensors and analytics equipment to monitor the state of pipelines and drilling in ‘real time’ has meant that oil and gas companies can truly stay updated about the state of their operations and that issues which may have previously taken days to fix, can be found almost immediately, allowing them to be fixed within minutes.

What next?
Within the digital oil and gas fields concept, I see the industry moving very quickly towards a more integrated, end-to-end approach. Traditionally, just as one example, many have dealt with the need to analyze data by building individual solutions. But in order to analyze the data in a meaningful way, you need to integrate and that integration requires a bridge between old and new systems. This is where many large oil and gas producers now find themselves – looking for that bridge. There is no holding back the digital oil and gas fields. It is already here and Hint is that bridge to integration.

Wout Last, president Hint