Cloud Computing in the Oil and Gas Industry: The Benefits Far Outweigh the Challenges
May 31, 2023
Cloud Computing in the Oil and Gas Industry: The Benefits Far Outweigh the Challenges
The oil and gas industry is projected to spend around $12.4 billion annually on analytics and cloud computing by 2030. The ROI that oil and gas companies are expected to gain from increased operational efficiency and production is even higher, so now is the time to capitalize on cloud solutions.
For companies in the oil and gas industry, operational efficiency enhancements may result from the use of cloud computing, analysis, and automation. However, it is essential that these organizations understand their business challenges and how they can be resolved using cloud computing solutions (and support from the right partner).
Looking at Both Sides of the Coin in the Oil and Gas Industry
The unfortunate truth is that many companies in the oil and gas industry are far more decentralized than they want to be. Generally, companies prefer to create more centralized access to support, resources, and functionality. This can be challenging when teams are located in different areas of the country or globe.
Even though the cloud has become an integral part of business operations for oil and gas companies, some organizations need help managing their cloud operations and the separate teams responsible for various aspects of the cloud (security, applications, networking, automation, etc.). While there are definite challenges, cloud computing in the oil and gas industry also presents many dynamic benefits.
CHALLENGE: Increased costs. Multiple teams working on different parts of the cloud for oil and gas can increase costs. With so many people involved in various aspects of the cloud, it can be challenging to streamline processes and ensure everyone is working efficiently.
BENEFIT: Cost savings. In the oil and gas industry, cloud computing can help companies save costs by reducing the need for on-premises infrastructure, hardware, and software maintenance, as well as providing access to pay-as-you-go models that allow companies to pay only for the resources they use.
CHALLENGE: Security risks. Separate teams sharing responsibility for different parts of the cloud can create security risks if the information is not transferred between them correctly.
BENEFIT: Improved safety and security. The oil and gas industry is highly regulated and has numerous safety and security risks. Cloud computing can help improve safety and security by providing secure and compliant cloud infrastructure, disaster recovery solutions, and advanced security measures such as encryption and access controls.
CHALLENGE: Lack of visibility. It can be challenging for managers to get a clear picture of what is happening across all aspects of the cloud for oil and gas if teams are not working in sync.
BENEFIT: Enhanced collaboration. Oil and gas companies often work with geographically dispersed teams and must collaborate effectively. Cloud computing can enable real-time collaboration, document sharing, and communication across teams, reducing delays and improving operational efficiency. Ignoring the benefits and dwelling on the challenges can result in oil and gas companies needing help managing their cloud operations effectively. Thankfully, the right partner and a solid platform can help.
Improving Current Practices
The oil and gas industry is highly volatile and cyclical, with sudden fluctuations in demand and production. Cloud computing can offer scalability to handle these fluctuations, allowing companies to scale their infrastructure up or down as needed and avoid over-provisioning resources.
Here are a few more ways that cloud computing can help improve oil and gas efficiency:
1. Scalable Storage
Internet-of-Things (IoT) devices gather data across refineries, shale mines, off-shore platforms, trucks, ships, and oil fields. However, the data collected with IoT technology could be more easily scalable, making the data storage requirements a guessing game. By contrast, implementing the cloud for oil and gas organizations allows storage to be scalable on the fly. If more space is needed, the cloud will adjust to the demand accordingly. Not only does the use of cloud technology help ensure adequate storage for the data gathered, but it also saves these companies IT overhead costs.
2. Efficient Analysis
Once the data is gathered, cloud computing supercomputers are used to analyze and process it at record speeds. Cloud computing in the oil and gas industry allows companies to process this information quickly without spending the money upfront to purchase and manage these devices. Not to mention, the cloud is more secure than private servers for data analysis.
3. Improved Data Management
The oil and gas industry produces vast data, from exploration to production to distribution. Cloud computing can help manage this data more efficiently and enable companies to leverage data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to gain insights and improve decision-making.
4. Assistive Automation
Combining robotics with the cloud allows companies to establish the concept of "Robots-as-a-Service," or RaaS (based on the idea of Software-as-a-Service, or SaaS). Companies like BP, ExxonMobil, TotalEnergies, and even Ouro Negro deploy robotics regularly throughout their operations. Cloud programming and mechanized robotic technology allow companies to scale production to meet peak demands. This eliminates the need for manufacturing businesses to become full-time robotics companies. Cloud robotics uses a rental business model but still allows firms to access the cloud to program, manipulate, and maintain robots––all remotely.
5. Remote Monitoring and Control
Cloud computing can enable remote monitoring and control of oil and gas assets, including wells, pipelines, and refineries. This can help improve oil and gas efficiency by reducing the need for manual intervention and enabling companies to monitor and optimize operations in real time.
The bottom line is that enhancing operational efficiency in the oil and gas industry by implementing automation technology and process optimization with the cloud will reduce risks but also help improve safety and lower overall costs. Companies must establish strong communication and collaboration between all team members in the cloud. Additionally, companies should consider using a centralized platform or service provider that can help manage all aspects of the cloud for oil and gas more effectively.
Cloud computing in the oil and gas industry allows companies to create a more efficient and scalable structure. It can also provide a centralized place to store and access unlimited data, making data analysis and data-driven decision-making much easier for leaders within the industry.
With the rise of industrial robots, complex data analysis, and the changing needs of the oil and gas industry, finding a better match is becoming increasingly difficult than cloud computing. These technological advancements (among others) will help companies within the industry make more intelligent and cost-effective decisions while managing the increasing demand for productivity.
Don't wait—reach out to CTG's cloud computing experts and get started on your cloud journey today.
Chad Alessi is an experienced leader in the energy industry with over 20 years of experience in oil and gas operations, engineering, project management, and operations consulting. He has held various leadership positions throughout his career, including Director of Operations for Williams Energy and senior engineer and supervisor of operations at Kinder Morgan. During his time in IT consulting, Chad was instrumental in driving IT transformation in the company's regulated pipeline and gas processing business units. He holds a BS in Chemical Engineering, an MBA from the University of Alabama, an MS in Information Systems with a concentration in Information Security from Syracuse University, and post-graduate certifications in leadership, full stack development, cybersecurity, and cloud computing. Chad is known for his strong work ethic, integrity, resourcefulness, and service-based leadership, which he attributes to his time in the US Marine Corps.
Daniel Sawyer is a Principal Consultant at Computer Task Group. With more than 20 years of experience delivering information technology in logistics and oil field support services, he has been a key consultant on 3D visualization and Digital Twin initiatives for major oil companies in Alaska since 2013. Sawyer’s expertise is in deploying cost-efficient technology with a focus on user workflow to increase business productivity.