The oil and gas industry tends to get a bad rap for its slow pace of technology adoption — but that wasn’t always the case. In the initial digital age of the ’80s and ’90s, oil and gas was at the forefront of transformation. Digital program modeling led to the discovery of a wealth of new resources and unprecedented levels of productivity and efficiency.
So why, then, has 21st-century digital transformation in the oil and gas industry been a lot slower? When it comes to implementing modern tech upgrades and utilizing data in more meaningful ways, oil and gas operations have lagged behind most industries for several reasons.
To start, the industry’s more experienced workers prefer doing things manually; many simply aren’t comfortable with today’s technology advances. Manual workflows may be comfortable, but they’re no longer efficient.
The remote nature of most oil and gas worksites is another possible reason for the industry’s tech lag. In the past, crews have lacked internet and even cell access at many sites. This meant workers had to manually record data and then report it via email when they returned to an area of connectivity. This has made it nearly impossible for companies to leverage tech advances, such as real-time data sharing.
Additionally, oil and gas innovation can be bogged down by politics and layers of corporate decision makers. And when oil and gas technology is implemented, the task is often pushed onto engineers who are working in the field. It’s a headache for them, so they’re less likely to advocate for digital transformation.
Why Digital Transformation Starts in the Field
That said, many of the top ideas for oil and gas technology are coming from these same workers in the field, who are using smartphones and tablets to patch together collaboration tools for their teams. This is not an efficient or scalable approach to technology. Digital transformation requires technology that is available to everyone, is easily used in the field, and can grow as the company grows.
By implementing technology such as collaboration software, companies can connect their oil and gas operations and overcome the technological factors affecting the oil and gas industry and inhibiting its transformation.
As they do so, oil and gas companies can see significant enhancements in their operations, including:
The ability to pump more oil
Replacing paper files and old spreadsheets in production reporting improves the speed and accuracy of vital production data. This can shave days off of data reporting and boost production exponentially.
A better bottom line
Whether it’s equipment failure, an inefficient crew, or a lack of crucial data, lost time hurts profitability. So eliminating the hassle of paperwork and increasing your capacity to service more wells gives you a significant advantage in the oil and gas industry’s difficult pricing environment.
Reduced downtime and wasted resources
Unplanned downtime is extremely costly in oil and gas. Instant, automatic data reporting cuts the time it takes to recover from situations like valve failures. Equipped with the proper data, it will take less time and fewer resources to identify the problem, find the closest available replacement valve, and install it.
Force multiplied benefits
When oil and gas technology improves efficiency enough to reduce downtime and the use of resources, that efficiency becomes a force multiplier. Fewer drivers in the field equal fewer people to keep safe, which also means fewer moving parts in operations. (Plus, meeting safety metrics enhances your ability to qualify for consideration on most contracts.)
Connected vendors and customers
Unprecedented collaboration with third-party contractors will also boost your qualifications for new contracts. When vendors operate as an extension of oil and gas operations, customers receive services more efficiently and more reliably.
Ultimately, digitizing oil and gas operations creates better information sharing, greater visibility, real-time coordination, and more informed decision-making. With the right digital collaboration software, such as Coolfire, you can streamline on-site operations by empowering individuals to access data from disparate systems. They don’t have to manually reach out to a centralized command center for every single inquiry.
In a shared digital workspace, information about safety concerns, incoming third-party vendors, production changes, or any other relevant updates can be automatically pushed to individuals or entire teams. And with the right digital collaboration tool, the massive amount of data oil and gas producers collect becomes more actionable and drives value for the organization — instead of sitting in silos, waiting for the right inquiry to unlock its potential.