How big data is revolutionising oil and gas
Oil and gas companies constantly face industry-specific challenges, both new – like environmental regulations – and old, like complex logistics and operational processes, lack of visibility, and the difficulties of equipment life cycle management and performance improvement.
But the increasingly vast amounts of data generated by the oil and gas industry can be crunched into useful insights to help companies surmount these challenges.
How does big data help?
Big data analytics help oil and gas companies streamline key operations, from exploration and drilling to production and delivery, in all three sectors of the industry – upstream, midstream and downstream.
Managing seismic data
Upstream analytics data begins with the use of sensors to collect seismic data for areas of interest. This data is analysed to determine possible locations for drilling. It can also be combined with other datasets such as research data and the history of past drilling operations to help determine how much oil and gas can be found in oil reservoirs.
Optimising drilling processes
Predictive data models can forecast possible equipment failures and recommend maintenance before anything actually breaks. The equipment is fitted with sensors that collect data during drilling, and the data is then run through machine learning algorithms that identify patterns of use likely to result in breakdowns. This enables drilling to proceed with fewer maintenance stops. Shell has saved over $1 million in Nigeria alone by doing this.
Improving reservoir engineering
Downhole sensors can provide data on reservoir pressure, flow, temperature and acoustics, which can be analysed to help companies improve reservoir production.
Algorithms can also be used to increase logistics efficiency by analysing transportation and production costs, economic drivers of demand, and even weather patterns help companies decide how and where to move their refined products and how to price them.
Oil and gas companies use predictive analytics to reduce downtime and cut maintenance costs for refining equipment, improving asset management. Data visualisations can help maintenance specialists decide, for example, when equipment needs to be replaced.
Towards a greener future
Oil and gas companies are getting on board with the transition to sustainable energy, and big data is helping them. Shell’s latest sustainability report says it “supports the vision of a transition towards a net-zero emissions energy system”. The company aims to cut emissions by using big data software to empower carbon capture and storage technology.