In the oil and gas industry, there are always new technologies that are forecasted to have a huge impact, right around the corner. The problem is determining which technologies are worthwhile and which only sound like great ideas.
Highly anticipated innovations may quickly become vital tools throughout the industry whereas other innovations never fulfill their promises to become both practical and economical.
Because of the constant changes within the industry, key decisionmakers can spend considerable time simply trying to determine which technologies are a good investment. From there, incorporating these technologies into on-going operations can be an even more difficult challenge.
To separate the pie-in-the-sky from the practical, here are the top ways technology will impact oil and gas companies this year.
The use of GPS is nothing new within the oil and gas industry, but how this technology is applied will have an increasing impact on the bottom line.
Linking GPS details together with other data will make work faster and more efficient. There are numerous ways GPS data will have an impact, regardless of the oil and gas industry sector.
Combining GPS data with pre-construction photographs will make it easier to complete reclamation and prove regulatory compliance. Matching geological features closely with underground pipeline locations will improve the monitoring of sensitive areas that could be subject to damage due to heavy rainfall.
Having digital maps of land lease areas that include precise GPS data points can simplify negotiations with leaseholders or speed work by field crews.
Integrating accurate GPS data with the pipeline integrity data from smart pigs will improve the ability to match pig data up with the ground features above the pipeline. Expect the use of advanced computer algorithms to link GPS data with ground surface contours and account for lateral pig movement within the lines.
Missing the location where repairs are needed by even a few meters creates unnecessary expense and project delays while increasing the amount of reclamation work required after repairs have been completed.
Combining the pig data with more accurate GPS positioning – particularly if the data is processed to account for the pig drift within the pipeline – will bring pipeline integrity to the next level. Then, having documentation on the position of repairs, valves, bend, changes in elevation, and other pipeline features will assist in maintaining pipelines going forward.
In the past, there have been several limitations to the comprehensive use of GPS data. Prior receivers provided GPS data that was only accurate within a few yards. This made it helpful when locating buildings, but it lacked the more precise positioning needed for other applications.
Gradually GPS has become more accurate while the equipment has become less expensive, more compact, and easier to operate. Now employee phones can be used to quickly document GPS positioning, allowing employees to attach positioning information for more accurate project tracking and facility monitoring.
Another problem has been processing and storing large amounts of GPS information. Companies were limited by their I.T. systems and the size of their network servers. Updating and maintaining those systems was complicated and expensive. Now companies can use cloud storage instead of purchasing and storing their own servers.
Data generated at remote locations can be immediately uploaded onto the cloud as employees gather it out in the field or at company facilities, rather than transferring it back to the company’s headquarters.
America’s infatuation with drones could make them appear to be more like toys than practical tools; however, it would be a mistake to underestimate this technology.
As drone capabilities are improved and refined and new models of drones are introduced, they are providing longer flight times, more features, and higher resolution imagery. Drones are already able to assume important roles in site and pipeline inspections.
This can include documenting proposed construction sites and gathering geological information to prepare plans for drill sites and access roads.
Admittedly the still-limited flying range of commercially available drones means they won’t soon be able to replace airplanes for flyovers of remote sections of pipelines.
For shorter distances, however, drones have the advantage of being able to approach areas and facilities of interest more closely. They could be the first option to allow workers to evaluate the status of facilities or upcoming worksites from a distance or to quickly look for maintenance issues in hard to reach areas.
Aerial surveys by drones, for example, could be the first step in monitoring sites with heightened safety concerns, like sour gas wells.
Expect manufacturers to continue to expand drone capacities. The ability to transport heavier items for longer distances could make them more useful for land surveying and developing access plans for remote locations.
Adding the capacity to transport heavier objects would enable the use of drones to lift parts into position or transport parts or equipment over obstacles.
3. Remote Working Tools
Working “wherever and whenever” is going to continue to be the trend.
From workers at remote drill sites to companies allowing workers the flexibility of working from home, sitting at a desk in a central office is becoming less common. Technology will be there to help make employees more effective wherever they’re working.
That includes access to higher speed internet, the use of portable hotspots, and software and network systems that can facilitate teamwork in remote locations. At the same time, this technology can speed work while in the office in numerous ways. Downtime can be reduced by substituting video conferences for in-person meetings.
Companies and employees can take advantage of time-savings by eliminating the need for routine project and team meetings by using online collaboration tools instead.
Projects can be managed online, and messaging tools can keep everyone up-to-date, whether they’re in the office or overseeing a drill site. Cloud storage can make data more accessible wherever teams or individuals are located.
Having production and pricing information readily available will enable teams to respond more quickly in order to manage production or redirect products to more favorable markets.
Even change-resistant companies have been forced to upgrade their employee cell phones now that smartphones have become ubiquitous in society. Where companies continue to lag is with their in-office phone systems. While managers can see the need for upgraded telephone systems, making that sort of company-wide change can seem daunting.
However, the reasons to make the change keep pilling up.
Newer phone systems can facilitate today’s flexible workplace. Digital phone systems can make it easy to reorganize staff or seamlessly switch employees to different office locations with no downtime.
Companies can take advantage of the advanced features and cost savings provided by modern phone systems without needing to hire in-house staff to oversee the project.
One common thread shared by today’s upcoming technologies is the challenge to integrate them into daily operations. An experienced telecom provider can take the guesswork out of this type of project.
Often this is less about employee training or access to the technology than it is ways to manage the data and the system support equipment required. That’s where it can become highly advantageous to work with a telecom provider that can simultaneously manage I.T. needs.
JMARK can streamline all your office processes by providing cloud storage, high-speed networks, and comprehensive phone system planning so the data the company collects can be quickly put to use.
This allows your oil and gas companies to focus on what you do best without having to waste valuable in-house resources on creating and maintaining the necessary I.T. infrastructure. Contact us today to learn more about how JMARK can help your company reach the next level of technology. Call 844-44-JMARK or email JMARKIT@JMARK.com.