Digital Data Optimising the Oil and Gas Industry
In today’s market it is not about simply storing data, technology now allows for the design of intelligent data systems tailored for your business. Mark Carrier of Real Time Innovations discusses the benefits of data digitalisation and it’s place at the forefront of the Oil and Gas industry.
In what way are RTI using technology for the oil and gas industry, what are the key benefits?
The key thing that we’re providing is a different way to build a system. We build a system based on data centricity. We hear at these conferences about the digitalisation of data and we haven’t done much with this except turn paper trails in to data that is now persistent in a database or files. When we talk about condition-based monitoring, we talk about predictive maintenance, these cloud platforms are not moving towards a common model of integration that we see in other industries. We’re ending up with all these operators, contractors and providers who are investing in these platforms but there is no source of integration there. We end up with vendors lock in yet again but now instead of it being hardware or control system, the vendor lock in is the IIOT cloud platform. RTI is allowing people to start designing systems differently by looking at the different data from the control system the process layer and the enterprise layer, allowing you to start defining data models in quality of service around these models. This allows for standard integration points.
Are savings on cost and time driving more companies to switch to these systems, particularly in oil and gas where a lot of data is being stored?
I see the fluctuation in oil price is really what’s driving it. In 2015 we went from about 1,900 rigs in service to about 600 rigs around the world, there was a big shift towards technology. Oil prices plummeted and I think that’s why everybody now has digitalisation of data in their vocabulary, IOT platform, cloud. I think that’s what brought that vocabulary to the industry. Now that we see an escalation in oil prices, we don’t see people being as conservative as they were, people are starting to spend more money. I think they’re still spending money on this infrastructure but they're not looking at it from a cost perspective. I call it digital hoarding. They save every piece of data, but if you look at the piece of data that’s actually being used for optimisation of the process, it’s used for cost reduction. You’ll find it’s really not happening and there’s probably only about 5% of that data that’s actually being used right now. A lot of it is because they don’t have any contacts to that data, it’s raw data, sitting around.
Are there any projects you're working on at the moment?
There is a small Canadian contracting company, Inside Energy. We’re working on white papers and have some presentations coming up early in the fall. They are working on an in -software integration platform based on RTI’s data distribution centre. They are using it as a complete software integration platform, working with some major operators right now who are reporting their old control algorithms from PLC or controller based over to their new software platform. It allows a really different way of deploying optimisation, managing the software and remotely monitoring. Typically, these things would be very engineered solutions. They would have to do a survey and an understanding of the equipment, field busses, a timing of the PDI loops. They would custom tailor a solution, send people to the field and monitor and collect data, having people in and out of the field.
For you, what do you find the comparison is like form the UK and the US to adoption of new technology and digitalisation, do you find there is a difference?
In the US, oil and gas market space is a bit tricky. In offshore, the UK and Scandinavia are more at the forefront of technology because the operating environments are much different. Operating offshore is a much more technical problem than it is on shore or land based. The crews tend to be much more educated, usually engineering degrees. Whereas, the crews here may not even have a degree or maybe didn't even finish secondary school. It’s a lot more technical manual operations here in the states. Technology has always been more advanced in the UK and Scandinavia just because of the environment but now we do see companies are making a huge investment into automation. There are a couple of things happening. One, is the process is getting much more difficult. The Permian base in west Texas is a huge oil field, but ten years ago they were still drilling vertical wells, the whole concept and idea of directional had no come into play. So now directional is finally making it out there. I see there is a lot of investment being made in technology but there is not a lot of investment being made on how to integrate all these components together.
What do you see for the future? What changes could be made?
Technology like ours starts forcing you to think of things systemically. Typically, if anybody is going to use our technology for what it is designed for, that’s more than just connectivity. You have to actually step back and take a look at what exactly it is that you're building and take that architecture and start defining it in terms of data. I would really like to see the industry move away from this concept of not wanting to share data, data is proprietary. In the upstream you have 4 market sectors that all have a symbiotic relationship with each other and nobody shares data. It is so easy to define a data model that doesn’t give away your proprietary secrets because it’s the same data and people can argue that day in day out. At the end of the day everybody is looking at the same data. It’s just like having language, just because we have a language which allows us to communicate with each other doesn’t mean you have access to my private thoughts or to yours. It’s what we choose to share through our communication mechanism. Through proper architecture, that concept can be deployed to actually bring these market sectors together in a much more cohesive fashion. It will drastically reduce costs both in resources and development and support and integration and will allow a much more fluid exchange of data.