The statement “Data is the new oil” has been a frequent theme in media the last couple years. Data metaphorically behaves like oil – i.e. can be extracted, refined, and monetized. While data is created at a considerable rate – similar to a gushing well – not all companies are capturing and analyzing data to enhance business decisions. Organizations that refine data to improve customer relationships and marketing efforts, streamline supply chains, and automate operations realize return on investment from technology initiatives. So how can oil industry companies drill data – rather than shale – to unlock operational excellence?
Unconventional plays have different engineering, materials and resources, and scheduling requirements than those of traditional oil and gas wells. Lack of adequate pipeline or rail support in remote locations add infrastructure challenges to unconventional wellsites. Water usage, materials need, production variance, scheduling and hauling, and water disposal all stress outbound and inbound supply chains. If oilfield logistics are not managed properly, operating costs rise and revenues fall. Successful logistics relies on data but more so the decisions drawn from data. Oil and gas companies can use data analytics to streamline inbound and outbound supply chains and gain a competitive advantage.
Although there are many touch points for logistical improvement along the upstream oil and gas supply chain, scheduling and hauling, and water management can benefit most. E&P companies face challenges scheduling product hauls from dispersed field locations. Coordination of production with schedules for hauling are reactionary or arbitrary resulting in multiple or incomplete hauls that waste time, effort, and expense. Water management brings similar challenges as moving product from the field. Organizations must take into consideration how much fresh water to bring to the site, how that changes as the well matures, and when deliveries are best received. On the back-end, through spent water and injection, the transport of produced water carries its own timing and environmental concerns.
Smart players in oil and gas are capturing and cataloging field data using sophisticated SCADA systems, wireless uploads, and mobile technology in the attempt to realize the benefits of “real-time” Business Intelligence. However, the industry continues to lament the fact that technical infrastructure in remote locations is not always the most accurate or reliable. Integrated smart technology will eventually transform the oilfield, but in the meantime companies capturing basic field measurements in data stores or warehouses can begin to create operational analytics. Data mining of these historical daily measurements provide a wealth of information that can be used to develop “right-time” Business Intelligence. The process of hauling and scheduling product and managing water can benefit from right-time BI, data mining, and predictive analytics which result in considerable cost savings for the business.
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