It’s hard to see where the oil and gas industry is headed at the moment. With COVID-19 ravaging markets and economies worldwide, a supply and demand crisis is underway in the industry. While the pandemic may be temporary, things won’t be the same even after the situation settles down.
But before the pandemic stalled global markets, there were nascent technological advancements that were set to impact oil and gas for the better.
Revisiting these developments could give us a clue as to where the industry could go post-COVID.
Improved data management
Oil and gas businesses far and wide collect and process a tonne of data, from regulatory reporting requirements to energy trading transactions. The legacy systems that helped the industry rise in the 20th century will be of little use moving forward.
Blockchain, the revolutionary record-keeping technology that facilitated the rise of cryptocurrency, could prove invaluable.
A lot of it has to with blockchain’s ability to maintain one unalterable record of transactions across multiple companies and institutions. While the technology is still in its early stages, experts are seeing a variety of potential applications:
- Ensuring timely heavy equipment maintenance.
- Managing exploration acreage records.
- Enforcing transparency and efficiency in downstream activities like distribution delivery documentation.
- Facilitating better risk management, contracting in midstream activities.
Flexible projects facilitated by tech
It may sound a bit absurd to see the gig economy infiltrate oil and gas. However, the reality is that fossil fuel demand was declining even before COVID-19 hit and oil companies will only become more risk-averse as the current trajectory continues.
We might start seeing more collaboration across a variety of organisations looking to become leaner and more agile. As a result, more flexible working arrangements could become a staple in the industry. Workers would be recruited only when a specific project arises and niche skills that are in high demand will become a priority.
Technology would be developed to effectively advertise “gigs” and help screen for the right competencies for a specific project.
Better and smarter connectivity
As oil and gas companies harness technology and become leaner in terms of operations, a key priority will be to avoid compromises and slip-ups in asset monitoring. The industry has long been faced with the challenge of monitoring contractors and assets that relocate every now and then.
With the constant improvements in wireless connectivity, smart oilfield technology could help operators manage this difficulty. It could be instrumental in relaying real-time info on local and remote assets to any part of the world.
Whether it’s checking the integrity of power cables in Singapore or ensuring uninterrupted service on a drilling platform in India, operators would have all the necessary data they need at any given moment.
Forging ahead despite numerous setbacks
As we move through the first half of the 21st century, a number of challenges are impeding the progress of certain developments that can revolutionise the oil and gas industry. COVID-19 may not be the death blow, and workers, companies and governments that have a stake in the industry will evolve nonetheless.