Optimisation: how oil and gas operators are adopting digital oilfield technologies

Big Oil is dreaming big with digital twin technology, as Giacomo Lee reports.

Digital oilfields enable oil and gas companies and oilfield service providers to remotely monitor and control critical activities at production facilities. These technologies aim to boost productivity and efficiency in exploration and production by minimising equipment downtime and improving hydrocarbon recovery.

This is especially critical in today’s scenario where oil and gas producers are seeking to streamline their costs to recover from the Covid-led energy demand shock. Digital oilfields also help to reduce the need for the physical deployment of personnel on site, thereby improving worker safety.

In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic forced companies to withdraw infected personnel from production platforms, causing an upheaval in labour availability. This highlighted the need for remote monitoring of oilfield equipment, prompting the oil and gas industry to push digitalisation.

The major focus is on asset management to maximise investment returns. Companies are likely to use digital twins and other technologies to oversee every aspect of the asset lifecycle to ensure long-term sustainability.

Digital oilfield technologies have gained momentum with the advent of the Internet of Things. They use artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, and visualisation tools to generate data-driven insights in real time to speed up decision-making processes.

The adoption is especially noticeable in newer projects that use the latest technologies and equipment to extract hydrocarbons. Companies are looking to automate as many processes as possible to mitigate operational risks as well as labour risks, potentially leading to cost savings in the long term.

The digital oilfield competitive landscape is largely dominated by oilfield service providers and industrial equipment makers that offer digital solutions and services to address complex business problems. Oil majors such as BP, Shell, and Equinor, also have garnered considerable experience in developing technologies to make digital oilfields a reality.

GlobalData’s latest thematic report, ‘Digital Oilfield’ provides a comprehensive review of the expanding role of digital oilfield technologies in the oil and gas industry.

Main image: Sibur company. Plant on processing of hydrocarbonic raw materials.
Credit: Yura Taratunin /