Are Oil Rigs Ready for a Digital Revolution?


The 50th annual Offshore Technology Conference took place in Houston, Texas this week. More than any year previously, exhibitors were exposed to new digital solutions that will transform the industry.

Digitization was the major theme of OTC 2019, with oil and gas titans showcasing their path to increased safety and efficiency.

“It’s no longer like the John Wayne movies where you’re throwing pipe around on the rig and that sort of thing. That will still happen, but I think (the industry) will be much more interesting,” David Bowman, Vice President of Business Development for the Expro Group said.

The digital transformation of oil and gas is bringing automation to the more repetitive and task-oriented jobs, allowing those early in their careers to take on more engaging roles. This revolution is also keeping the workforce in safer positions. As automation increases, fewer hands are needed on offshore rigs.

“People have to transform. (The industry) will get younger, more computer-savvy people into the business and that will open up a whole new set of skills and traits of people because they’ll be inspecting, they’ll be monitoring and bringing more thinking into it,” Bowman added.

The acceptance and eagerness to adopt digital, connected and cloud-based technologies is a sign that a historically slow-to-move industry is thinking about how it can better operate in an increasingly digital world.

This movement will also inject a reservoir of new data which will be used to give insight into what needs to improve from an operations standpoint.

Quicker than ever before, the energy landscape is shifting. There is still an unquenched thirst for oil globally, but emerging solutions like wind and solar power and proving to be more and more viable on a wide scale, forcing the oil and gas industry to place a premium on efficiency.

The signs were evident at OTC 2019 that the industry is well aware of what it needs to do to refine itself.

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