Big Data Has Arrived in the Energy Sector

Is the era of big data upon us? With an influx of data pouring through the networks of organizations, more and more operators in the energy industry are creating teams to extract insight and value from this resource.

According to a June 2011 Economist Intelligence Unit survey, 99 percent of executives faced an increase in the amount and complexity of data they collected in this digital age.

"It's not a fad, it's here and it's now," said Sonny Singh, Senior Vice President of the Industries Business Unit at Oracle. "Data is growing at a 40 percent increase and we must look at it and ask the question: how is data changing our life, our companies," commented Sheila Gulati, Managing Director, Tola Capital.

In June 2011, the Economist Intelligence Unit conducted a global survey of 586 senior executives to look at the new concept, "big data", along with how they are handling and extracting value from data. The study found that "companies that master the emerging discipline of big data management can reap significant rewards and seperate themselves from their competitors."

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The term big data refers to companies that collect, aggregate and use this information to determine trends, value, variety, characteristics and variability.

"With this information, operators are trying to understand the story that the data is trying to tell you," explained Gulati.

How this term affects the energy market was discussed at IHS CERAWeek's concurrent plenary: "Big Data: How will it change the world and what does it mean for energy?"

Gulati stated that many CEO's have enacted a big data strategy for operational development and efficiency to create concise, valuable data-driven insight. Many operators in today's oil and gas market are bombarded with data that interferes with work performance. Schlumberger recently recognized this problem and created a production operations software platform designed to identify performance problems quickly, with minimum downtime.

"Today, production engineers manage seven times more wells than they did in the mid-1990s," said Meyer Bengio, vice president of petroleum engineering at Schlumberger Information Solutions. "The large number of wells combined with the significant increase in real-time data generated from permanent sensors has created a situation in which engineers only have time to react to well problems, rather than preventing them."

If the amount and variety of data that is brought in with each company was completely understood in a record amount of time, the industry would instantly change.

"This industry has no shortage of information," said Frank Mollerop, SVP, Global Energy, SAS. "Once this is widely recognized, there will be a tremendous growth in modern information," he said. 


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