The energy industry is certainly not benefit of data, with more being added by the terra-bytes. Image Credit: Pixabay

The oil and gas sector today stands at a turning point. While global leaders, activists and the world’s brightest minds look for net zero alternatives, the solution to meet this target and the energy demands of tomorrow can be found in the digitization of the industry.

A new type of asset is emerging – data. Companies are reporting, collecting, and analyzing vast volumes of data. The oil and gas industry produce large amounts of data that offer insights on the state of reservoirs and helps engineers to take the guesswork out of exploration and make informed production decisions.

Data gathered through satellites, unmanned aerial vehicles and drones not only helps troubleshooting and performance efficiency, but also mitigates potential risks to the environment. Coincidentally, the Middle East and Africa is forecast to be the biggest market for oil and gas analytics. But according to an IBM survey, less than half of the oil and gas executives are taking advantage of data to drive that innovation.

Companies are overwhelmed by data - and have limited supply chain visibility - resulting in limited ability to respond to disruptions, higher costs, and lost sales. Plus, key market data is generally fragmented - or siloed - and typically takes almost 80 per cent of a data scientist’s time to turn them into real insights.

IBM collaborated with Schlumberger to build a data management platform that can run across public or private clouds based on open industry standards for oil and gas data. This will allow everyone from operators to developers, to geo-scientists and engineers to work from a single source of truth and derive value a lot faster, whether that’s the complex seismic data used to decide the best location to drill or the 1 terabyte of data generated on average by an oil well each day.

Access to timely data is a grievance that is common in the energy sector. A wealth of data is being generated from the huge number of sensors out there, which is helping to define patterns that can ensure safer operations. Predictive analytics can help prevent an incident before it occurs.

Preparing for energy transition

Safety is no longer simply about how fast you can react, but how you can pre-empt incidents from occurring using predictive analytics, and that is the direction our industry is heading in.

In some ways, data and natural resources like oil and gas share many traits. They are assets that can be tapped with sophisticated tools to serve very valuable purposes. They also both need to be handled with care and are valuable commodities in the broader journey toward energy transition.

Global energy demand is continuing to grow, and while the move to more sustainable resources is an imperative, we are not yet at a place where we can simply cut off or do without fossil fuels. It’s why we call it energy transition—and it’s a journey with a risk-adjusted portfolio of approaches. Most importantly, this is not a journey that can be taken alone.

We can best achieve and accelerate the goals of energy transition through collaboration. This will help unlock greater value from the data generated today, which can drive efficiencies in how we discover, extract and sequestrate carbon to meet the energy demands of today. And open, hybrid cloud platforms and industry data standards can provide more holistic insights that can reduce production costs, emissions and more.

Together, these efficiencies can enable energy companies to free up capital and time to invest in more sustainable energy sources. The oil and gas sector stands at a pivotal moment in history. It is strongly positioned to orchestrate an effective climate strategy by harnessing data - to not only transform the industry, but also build on its legacy for generations to come.