Middle East oil and gas firms are being urged to adopt big data to achieve operational efficiencies and address staff shortage concerns during the current period of oil price volatility.
In its ‘Securing and Enabling Data Driven Oil Fields’ report, consulting firm Booze Allen Hamilton said regional oil and gas companies adopting big data could achieve operational efficiencies and increase oil well production by up to eight per cent.
Booze also claimed that data driven oil fields could defend the industry from a looming skills gaps, by automating processes and socialising institutional knowledge through management systems.
In a study, the firm said 75 per cent of international oil companies felt staffing challenges were responsible for project development delays and 59 per cent felt a skills gap was the reason for greater industry risk taking.
Half of the Middle East’s skilled oil and gas professionals are expected to retire within the next five to seven years, Booze said.
“Less than one percent of the data currently available on a modern oil rig is currently being captured and analysed,” said Atif Kureishy, principal at Booz Allen Hamilton MENA. “Meaning extractors and producers are leaving themselves increasingly vulnerable to low oil prices and a skills shortage. It’s important that we are not only capturing as much data as we can, but that the industry is able to identify the people and systems equipped to make sense of that data to inform better decision making.”
The firm admitted, however, that digitisation did represent a growing security challenge for the industry, with oil and gas companies ‘particularly at risk to cyber-attack’.
“Devising strategies that allow organisations to maximise operations without compromising intellectual property will be about finding a defence in depth cyber security model that balances technology deployment to support data capture, with the analytical intelligence to interpret and understand what the data is telling you,” said Dr. Mahir Nayfeh, SVP – Technology and Analytics at Booz Allen Hamilton MENA.
The firm cited Chevron’s i-fields project as a successful model for a data driven oil field, claimed to save the company over $1 billion annually.