Although the oil and gas industry has begun to use analytics, it can use digital technology to grow the industry even more, says consulting and business process services company Wipro business development manager for South Africa Marleze van Loggerenberg.
“Oil and gas companies are focusing on optimising production and preserving their margins, owing to the current price volatility. Therefore, it is essential that they implement a digital strategy to optimise their operations.”
Van Loggerenberg says the oil and gas industry can benefit from implementing the following aspects of digital technology. Firstly, the industrial Internet of Things, which involves using extensive data and cloud analytics and merges it with industrial machinery, can improve efficiency and operating performance.
Secondly, advanced manufacturing processes, such as design and product engineering, supply chain and distribution, as well as upstream and downstream services, transition to an intelligent system. This would allow for more efficient operations and processes in oil and gas companies.
Thirdly, the Global Brain. Through digital communication, the Global Brain integrates the collective intelligence of human beings around the world. This results in crowdsourcing, open collaboration, and a much faster pace of innovation in the technologies and processes that companies use.
For these reasons, Van Loggerenberg points out that there appears to be interest from African oil and gas companies in digital technology.
She directs Engineering News to companies she has worked with in West Africa, where digital technology has been used to upgrade a company’s core enterprise resource planning back-end system. This type of software would be used for integrating functional areas of an organisation’s business processes into one system using drone technology, monitoring the status of pipelines and predictive analytics in asset management, as well as mobile applications to monitor plants.
With new discoveries of resources, particularly deposits of natural gas (which liquefied natural gases can be produced from) in Mozambique, Tanzania and Senegal, Van Loggerenberg states that there is huge potential for the uptake of digital technology in Africa. “This is because Africa has the potential to ‘leapfrog’ current technology and current infrastructure, and implement new technologies that would enable companies to operate at much higher margins much more efficiently.”
Digital technology can also help with environmental sustainability, she notes, explaining that predictive technologies can be used in preventive maintenance to prevent faults and breakages in machinery and infrastructure in the oil and gas industry and, subsequently, damage to the environment.
“This kind of technology can also be used to reduce the carbon footprint of companies, as well as improve the general safety and health standards for workers in the industry.
“[Digital technologies have] got a bright future. With all these new discoveries, obviously they’re going to have to embrace the right technologies to run their plants.”