Oil, Gas, Big Data and Big Changes

Big data is making big changes at the pump


As gas prices have been falling steadily, many might begin to wonder if it's just the season, or if there's more going on with the man behind the curtain. And in fact, there is. As we see gas and oil prices plummet it's not just because the summer and fall traveling seasons are over. Instead, it's because gas and oil companies are beginning to turn to big data to help save on costs and get the most efficiency out of the oil infrastructure.

The term 'big data,' when applied to the oil and gas industry, describes large quantities of data coupled with increasing diversity and rate. Collecting and analyzing huge quantities of data rely on VSAT services to store and scrutinize the result. VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) is an acronym for a satellite based communications system that is utilized for business. Because the large oil and gas corporations must determine where to drill new wells and avoid environmental concerns simultaneously, they are beginning to rely more on massive amounts of data to avoid risk and increase profits.

Detecting Hydrocarbon Deposits

One important way that big data is changing the oil and gas industry is through the generation and analysis of 3D seismic data. By processing large quantities of data, you can produce a much clearer picture of where the oil and gas deposits are likely to be found. This translates into lower costs for the enterprise and ultimately, for the consumer. As these deposits have become more difficult to detect, the data becomes even more vital. By analyzing the geometry and comparing it to neighboring wells, a better decision can be made on well location. For example, MRI technology that is used in healthcare today is also used to identify rock and fluid properties and produces data that can be stored and analyzed.

Utilizing Big Data in Production

After detection of the deposits, other opportunities to utilize big data include drilling and finishing the well, building the pipeline and optimizing the flow of oil or gas. Machines used in these endeavors produce multiple types of data that can be analyzed to improve costs for any specific well. Evaluating additional data to improve drilling, for instance, can reduce costs by significant amounts. Whether it is on dry land or the sea floor, these large amounts of data can contribute to a company’s profit. The standards for the digital oil well, digital oil field and data formats have led to gauges and other data devices on equipment to capture all possible data. This data is delivered to a central processing center where it is utilized to enhance the decision making process.

Field Augmentation

Because of constantly changing variables, collecting and analyzing huge quantities of data relating to geology and operations can make a difference in drilling, spacing of wells and well completion. Not only measurement data, but also predictive analysis can be affected. Sensors placed on equipment produce a constant data stream that can signify if equipment failure is imminent. The equipment can be replaced before failing, thus reducing risk for the business. Monitoring pipelines can provide large amounts of data that can signal unusual stresses such as an earthquake and help to determine if a shutdown is needed to prevent a spill.

The Future

The future possibilities of big data in the oil and gas industries are exciting. With intelligent computing in the years ahead, computers will be able to make simple decisions. For more complex situations, possible solutions will be offered that are based on additional data and analysis. An automated system will be able to interpret the user’s selection techniques. Ongoing development will merge these interpretations with other data types to determine what is fruitful. Although the oil and gas industries have previously not taken full advantage of big data and the benefits it can bring, big data analytics will become more prevalent as this industry uses it to find, develop and monitor these resources. In fact, a survey by Accenture and Microsoft of oil companies reported that 86% to 90% of participants said they believed they could increase the value of their business by increasing their analytical, mobile and IoT capabilities.

As more and more companies like Shell begin to rely on big data, we can expect to see some great improvements and changes within the gas and oil industry.

University lecture small

Read next:

How Are Higher Education Institutions Using Analytics?