Driving sustainability in the oil and gas sector with cloud
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Key priorities for O&G industry players
Volatile demand and the added pressure of environmentally friendly solutions influence oil and gas (O&G) companies to improve agility and operational efficiency through disruptive measures.
Cost and capital investment reductions remain top priorities. We explore the importance of cloud computing in enabling O&G companies to stay competitive in a rapidly changing technology-driven world.
Exploring crucial value chain interventions
Different digital interventions are prevalent in O&G companies but mostly in silos; hence effective data management and organization-wide initiatives in an age of remote working remain among the highest considerations.
Cloud proposes effectiveness in value chain interventions, as we illustrate below. Figure 1 depicts cloud enablement across the O&G value chain.
Upstream: Choosing the optimal location for an oil well is fraught with risk, and oil and gas well development efforts might occasionally end unfavorably. O&G businesses acquire and develop massive sets of geological data, analyze seismic testing results, and condition information to eliminate uncertainties and maximize their return on capital investments. Cloud can:
Midstream: The midstream industry has been deploying significant pipeline infrastructure to support rapid expansion measures in recent years. The pipeline industry relies on leak detection and automation technology to remedy pipeline leaks and spills. The cloud can help in the following:
Downstream: The cloud aids downstream operations by:
Oil field services (OFS): Using cloud and big data, O&G companies can create a digital oilfield to:
Figure 1: Impact of cloud across the oil and gas value chain
Taking sustainability sky high
We demonstrate some of the optimized, best plausible ways O&G companies can leverage cloud-enabled operations to move toward a greener, more sustainable world.
These define the areas of impact, the transformative cloud solution, its benefits, and the recommended cloud strategy, encompassing three aspects of sustainability – people, planet, and prosperity.
The cloud strengthens the IT backbone by providing a unified vendor ecosystem platform that helps design and deploy O&G frameworks or digital oilfield components. Leveraging multi-cloud and hybrid cloud results in a significant reduction in expenditure compared to the on-premises environment. It also improves reliability and uptime.
It enables transparency and agility, allowing O&G businesses to scale while optimizing resources based on operational integrity. It is also vital to ensure faster and more efficient mergers and acquisitions (M&A) implementation. The recommended approach is cloud-neutral or cloud-agnostic, and companies can use hybrid and multi-cloud strategies for cloud migration to promote prosperity.
Cloud enables automation as it is instrumental to technology integration—5G, AI, and others—for long-term value generation. Other capabilities include connecting remote assets and the workforce through automation, along with training enablement of associates for higher productivity. As part of the net zero carbon effort, AI on the cloud can also help reduce flaring and fuel usage for compression, facilities, and company vehicles. The recommended cloud strategy is AI on the cloud, which can impact the sustainability goals of people and prosperity.
It supports data analysis as it provides a scalable storage solution for large volumes of data gathered. This data can be easily and effectively analyzed and visualized to enable agile decision-making. Implementing the right tools and related data analytics systems can result in higher yields concerning investments, reducing accidents, impediments, and waste. Distributed cloud and edge computing are the right cloud strategies that can impact the planet and prosperity sustainability goals.
Utilizing IoT-based digital twin applications helps reduce operating expenses by replicating their physical systems' state, behavior, and architecture. Energy efficiency thus helps optimize costs and achieve a lower carbon footprint. Adopting a digital twin in the cloud strategy can help impact the planet and prosperity sustainability goals.
Cloud empowers organizations with state-of-the-art security and protection against external and internal threats allowing selective or prioritized access. It also enables ease of access for users. The sensors across the value chain—especially connected with systems responsible for production and transportation (such as pipelines)—help collect data through the distributed cloud and edge computing technologies, facilitating predictive maintenance, and mitigating both wastage and accidents. The recommended strategy for security is using a wireless sensor network and cloud; this can impact the people and prosperity sustainability goals.
The O&G industry can use the cloud to promote health and safety. A shared or virtual infrastructure is more economical as it reduces carbon footprint and capital investments. The pay-as-you-go cloud model makes scalability feasible at a lower optimized cost. Simultaneously, a wide range of wearables coupled with augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) ecosystem solutions can act as interventional tools to collect data and simulate the environment. This could prevent personnel's exposure to hazardous environments and determine the following best action. Cloud also augments the ability to access the collected data points anywhere and anytime, driving agile decisions. Adopting a cloud-native approach—multi and hybrid cloud—while using connected devices can help impact the sustainable development goals of the planet, people, and prosperity.
Companies can use the cloud to streamline stakeholder management as its redundancy, and backup features allow them to keep business-critical processes functioning without disruption by quickly gaining access to critical systems in the event of a disaster. When businesses need to shut down or evacuate, as they did during the pandemic, remote access to critical procedures allows them to tackle personnel and related issues efficiently. In this case, companies can adopt the disaster recovery as a Service (DRaaS) strategy, which can impact the people and prosperity sustainability goals.
Cloud enables O&G companies to drive innovation by implementing standard processes. Automated operations provide real-time monitoring and insights, allowing information to be shared seamlessly for better cross-departmental collaboration and holistic visibility. Adopting a cloud mindset and a cloud-first strategy will help companies enhance innovation and promote prosperity.
Balancing prosperity with the planet and people
Given the nature of the O&G operations and its vast investments, O&G companies are often cautious when investing in new initiatives.
This means the industry needs to catch up in terms of new technology adoption. As the planet and people become key focus areas for O&G companies, the cloud, coupled with related technologies and varied strategies, can come to their aid in striking the right balance. It can help forward-looking companies achieve their health, safety, and environment (HSE) goals while meeting stakeholder expectations.