Progress, Challenges Seen in Implementing Digital Oilfield Technology

Progress, Challenges Seen in Implementing Digital Oilfield Technology
The oil and gas industry is only halfway in its journey towards implementing and gaining value from digital oilfield technology.

The oil and gas industry’s progress in implementing digital oilfield technology into their operations can be summed up in a quote by science fiction writer William Gibson – “The future is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed.”

Some players in the oil and gas industry have successfully “crossed the chasm” in implementing digital oilfield technology, but others still lag behind, Jim Crompton, an exploration and production industry veteran who now works with Noah Consulting, told attendees at the Society of Petroleum Engineers’ (SPE) Digital Energy Conference & Exhibition near Houston earlier this week.

Crompton contrasted the companies represented at the SPE event – who are true believers in digital oilfield technology – with companies in attendance at a recent small producers’ digital energy conference. Eighty percent of the operators in this market segment still operate on paper. The next big technology that these companies seek to implement is a tablet-based system for operator and lease information. These companies – whose assets include between 100 and 1,000 stripper wells and 400 barrels per day (bpd) to 2,000 bpd of oil production.

“It makes you realize how complex and diverse this industry is,” Crompton noted.

While other companies are awash in digital data, others still see SCADA as the next wave of technology.

Development of digital oilfield technology has been underway for the past 15 years, but it’s only been in the past few years that industry has started to trust and successfully use this technology.

Successfully implementing a digital oilfield program is not which company has bought the latest, coolest gadgets, or has the most data, it’s what they do with their technology and information, Compton noted. The idea behind the digital oilfield is about transforming the way the oil and gas industry does business.


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Karen Boman has more than 10 years of experience covering the upstream oil and gas sector. Email Karen at


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Nitin | Sep. 10, 2015
Hi Karen, This was a great read. The shale revolution has definitely changes the oil and gas industry. The oil and gas industry is a kind of industry that was innovation centric once; but then, innovation staled in the field for a very long time, almost for a decade. Later, however, the industry woke up from the long sleep. The findings of a recent study that I read few days back points that out. It is a patent landscape study on digital oil field technologies conducted based on the patents filed in last 20 years. It shows how innovation took place globally in last 20 years. You can see that from 2012 there has been a surge in patent filing activity in the domain that was staling for a long time. This signifies that the industry has started adopting the innovation again. We can expect breakthroughs in the field again. The latest advancement of computer science like machine learning, AI, IoT, QC are all set to revolutionize the world of oil and gas production. That said, these innovations will account for further reduction is oil and gas prices in future as the extraction cost will fall and because there will require less workforce to do the same task, the extraction cost will fall again. The other innovations in other fields, like Solar, Wind power, will take the consumers away from utilizing oil for energy production and that will further lead to falling of extraction cost. Regards, Nitin


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