The oil and gas industry is no stranger to big data. There are many different ways in which analyzing this data can improve operations, and many companies have already been taking advantage of them to some extent. However, there are also challenges involved in managing and analyzing big data, and most oil and gas companies could stand to use it more effectively.
One common use of big data in the industry is determining the best drill sites. Analyzing information such as geological and seismic surveys allows scientists to find new oil deposits, making it easier to establish where to drill wells. This reduces or eliminates the need to drill a hole to determine what is in the rock in the area. Since drilling these holes costs millions of dollars, this data creates significant savings.
Big data analytics are also used to optimize production. Immense amounts of data are produced from the machinery and the measurements taken throughout the operation. This data can help companies improve not only current operations, but future ones as well, allowing them to determine the qualities of the rock and oil as well as the optimal way to work with them. With the number and size of expenses involved in oil drilling, any savings or innovations can be the difference between profit and loss.
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Oil and gas firms are now beginning to take greater advantage of big data, however. The industry is still working to adapt after two years of low prices and a loss of experienced personnel. It is therefore turning to analytics and other technology to reduce costs and increase efficiency. Organizations are working to overhaul their data architecture, consolidating data and discarding legacy systems. Cloud computing is creating significant value in this area, as it allows firms to perform more complex analyses using greater quantities of data.
According to an Accenture and Microsoft Digital Energy Trends Survey, over half of oil and gas executives intend to make big data analytics a part of their business strategy over the next few years. However, implementation in the industry has been slow. The technology is expensive to adopt, and many companies are still not effectively using the majority of the data they collect during operations. Business silos and a lack of data integration between units are also hindering optimal use of analytics, as information is not always formatted and stored consistently throughout an organization. It can also be difficult to find employees who possess the skills to analyze and use this data well.
As more organizations begin to value analytics more highly and use them more widely, and as technology becomes more affordable and sophisticated, use of big data analytics in oil and gas will rise. As the industry faces more competition from alternative energy sources, it will need to take advantage of the benefits that advanced analytics services provide.