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Oil and gas isn’t ready for ‘big data’

oil and gas industry

Oil and gas isn’t ready for ‘big data’‘Big data’ is a collection of complex data sets so large that they are often difficult to process using traditional database management tools or data processing applications.

A new report from Molten suggests that major oil and gas companies risk missing out on the performance potential data and ‘big data’ offer unless they better manage their information. Among the challenges in managing these data sets are access, analysis, capture, curation or maintenance, definition, secure deletion, presentation or visualization, search, sharing, security, storage and transfer.

Colin Frost, partner at Molten Group, commented: “Companies within the oil and gas sector face increasing pressure to make quick, effective decisions if they are to maintain production momentum and high levels of performance. As a consequence, they are becoming highly dependent on data, and more recently ‘big data’, to support these critical decisions. Paradoxically, recognizing the value of this data and the need to manage it as a valuable asset is not so widely accepted at an executive level. Unchecked, the relationship is one that could possibly lack reward and, at worst, prove unsustainable”.

Molten has highlighted that with final investment dependent on critical data and high level metrics, it is vital that the information that underpins these decisions is well maintained. Companies must formalize data governance and adopt better management processes.

Research shows that accuracy in data intensive measurements such as the reserve replacement ratio (RRR) has increased, although at an average uncertainty rate of 10% there is room for improvement. The rewards for such improvement will be high, with those companies exhibiting greater maturity in data management achieving the highest performance in reserves replacement.

Colin Frost said: “A 10% error rate in RRR is deemed acceptable in the sector. However, I think we need to question if this level of error is appropriate. Demands are becoming more acute. Management teams are under pressure to keep momentum behind production, yet as an industry we’re saying it is OK to base decisions on measures such as these that can be prone to significant error.”

Although supermajor oil and gas companies invest between US$ 1 million – US$ 3 million on data acquisition each year, the annual spend on maintaining this asset is dramatically less, lower than 1% of the acquisition cost. Molten argues that many oil and gas companies are ‘borderline irresponsible’ in how they maintain their existing data. The consulting firm argues that better valued and managed data will afford executives and investor greater certainty on strategically important measurements crucial to executive decision making.

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Oil and gas strike me as late technology adopters, not early adopters.

These heavy industry companies, manufacturing, extraction etc., they do adopt technology and are pioneers in their fields. They have been using sensors, drones, autonomous vehicles, dark warehouses, some pretty sophisticated analytics to find mineral deposits and oil fields, to optimize routing of physical goods. However, when it comes to information technology, they are indeed late adopters - so the consumer analytics, the machine learning, the big transactional data, they're not really that familiar with. 

Ah, makes sense. You're likely right that they can make more money with more Analytics. 

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