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Digital can unlock $1.6 trillion of value for oil and gas, if you know how to use it....

Major operators want to go digital, but current computing infrastructures are often unreliable and unable to keep up. Edge computing could be the solution.

The oil and gas industry frequently cites a piece of research which says that digital transformation could unlock up to $1.6 trillion in value for oil and gas by 2025. But as with any other lock, you need the right key.


For oil and gas, there are unique challenges in using digital technologies, edge computing expert Stratus wrote in a whitepaper, including "applying solutions across geographically dispersed and often remote assets." It noted that "operational excellence begins at the operational edge," which is the point of data acquisition usually in remote, decentralised assets.


"Operators need the ability to collect real-time data directly from remote equipment and convert it into actionable information," the paper noted. Real-time information opens up possibilities, allowing operators to set the base line for normal activity and therefore predict asset failure beforehand. However, this requires robust computing infrastructure, which Stratus said is often "insufficient" among oil and gas companies.


The oil and gas industry frequently cites a piece of research which says that digital transformation could unlock up to $1.6 trillion in value for oil and gas by 2025. But as with any other lock, you need the right key.


For oil and gas, there are unique challenges in using digital technologies, edge computing expert Stratus wrote in a whitepaper, including "applying solutions across geographically dispersed and often remote assets." It noted that "operational excellence begins at the operational edge," which is the point of data acquisition usually in remote, decentralised assets.

"Operators need the ability to collect real-time data directly from remote equipment and convert it into actionable information," the paper noted. Real-time information opens up possibilities, allowing operators to set the base line for normal activity and therefore predict asset failure beforehand. However, this requires robust computing infrastructure, which Stratus said is often "insufficient" among oil and gas companies.


Legacy IT infrastructure and systems are not always able to integrate with Industry 4.0 technology, since they were designed long ago and not intended for such complex tasks. Stratus noted that this could leave IT teams constantly patching and updating to enable availability. While this is a burden on manpower in general, it also means that IT teams, which are a vital part of the digitalisation process, would be unable to focus on tasks which actually have the ability to "transform the IT footprint for future-proof, automated operation."


But one of the most integral weaknesses is a lack of reliability with standard computing systems, which often run mission critical applications. Unplanned downtime is a major issue for operators, costing them time, money, and possibly the safety of their employees.


"Equipment availability, and conversely, minimizing unplanned downtime, are the top areas of investment and focus for Industry 4.0 in Oil & Gas," Stratus wrote. The availability of critical systems is key to smooth operations and higher efficiency in oil and gas.


To truly realise the potential value of data, it is essential that "operators must deploy new computing architectures that eliminate the scale and capacity constraints that current exist at the operational edge..." Stratus wrote. Edge computing platforms are specifically designed for these purposes, and can eliminate inefficiencies for oil and gas operators.


Source - Carla Sertin Nov 15, 2020

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