Robotics Process Automation Benefits and Challenges Oil, Gas Workforce

Robotics Process Automation Benefits and Challenges Oil, Gas Workforce
The oil and gas industry has used RPA to solve many workforce problems following the downturn, but challenges still exist.

Robotics Process Automation (RPA) in oil and gas has undoubtedly had an inherent change on the industry’s workforce. But its implementation has come in waves, said Bill Hale, principal for EY and intelligent automation leader for oil and gas.

Bill Hale
Bill Hale, Intelligent Automation Leader for Oil and Gas, EY
Intelligent Automation Leader for Oil and Gas, EY

“The first wave,” Hale explained to Rigzone, “came on the heels of oil prices’ deep decline a few years ago … the entire focus of RPA was how to drive process tasks from people to robots – such as revenue accounting, accounts payable, check processing, onboarding, etc.”

Then came the second wave.

“Even though we all say we’re a part of a ‘paperless society’ and a ‘paperless workforce,’ all we did was move paper to pdf forms,” said Hale. “Clients were still getting thousands of pdfs every month that were invoices, packing slips, statements and field tickets that somebody was having to type into a system.”

Essentially, the second wave was learning how to take cognitive automation and turning it into a digital reader, Hale said. Doing that doubled the amount of automation they could tackle.

“The third wave is determining how we can use robotic software and RPA to drive revenue,” he said. “Historically, oil companies could only spot check their assessments, but with RPA and software, they can now do a full scan on all of them.”

Rachel Everaard
Rachel Everaard, People Advisory Services, EY
People Advisory Services, EY

Being able to effectively determine which wells were appraised incorrectly saves the company money.

RPA has become so key in the industry that, looking at the top 10 producers in the U.S., Hale said EY is actively providing services to seven of those companies around automation.

“It’s the fastest thing I’ve ever seen adopted by our industry outside of the technology they use in refining and drilling to run their business,” he said.

Workforce Challenges

Any new technology doesn’t come without its challenges, and getting an existing workforce to buy in to new ways of doing things isn’t always easy.

“There’s absolutely a change management element around this new way of working … there’s a fear that part of your job is going away and what that looks like,” Rachel Everaard, a principal at EY in its people advisory services, told Rigzone.

There’s also a concern around skill matches and companies are increasingly looking to hire people and add skills around analytics and IT technology, even in functions that are not traditionally in IT, Everaard said.


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