Petroleum and gas production companies are now under significant pressure caused by COVID-19. The price crash, overstocked market, lockdowns, and decline in demand. To survive the collapse, most industry leaders grow IT budgets to implement modern digital business transformation strategies.

But what technologies actually help beat competitors? How is the oil and gas industry doing in 2021? Based on our customers’ experience, we’ve made a list of top opportunities to seize with IT tools this year.

Digitalization — a silver bullet for the future of oil and gas

The O&G industry is always chaotic. However, the next post-pandemic decade will be very different for this market as the downturn has accelerated such oil and gas industry trends as decarbonization and digital transformation (DT). For instance, IDC forecasts global investments in DT to reach $2.3 trillion by 2023.

The last year’s disruptions proved that business and DT strategies are inseparable even in the O&G field. Progressive C-suites now consider enterprise digitalization as imperative, and choosing the right technologies is essential as they enable organizational flexibility and resiliency.

The strategic value of digital technologies 

Speaking from our experience, IoT, AI, ML, and remote monitoring solutions have already helped dozens of our O&G customers. Areas of improvement include numerous aspects, from better operational efficiency and labor safety to reduced downtime and overall costs.  

Digitalization covers numerous business goals for oil and gas organizations:

  1. Enabling productive remote operations and human-machine collaboration 
  2. Minimizing and managing both cybersecurity and on-premise risks 
  3. Improving recovery and sustainability rates 
  4. Setting emissions targets and extending life of existing assets 
  5. Increasing enterprise adaptability to future disruptions

It’s safe to say, companies that are bold enough to use this crisis as a catalyst to restructure their operating models with digital technologies will beat the current humanitarian and economic challenges. O&G executives should be aware of oil and gas industry trends and turn to the IT field to meet consumer expectations, safeguard their workforce, and secure better outcomes. Digital is critical for survival now more than ever.

What oil and gas technology trends will dominate the industry in 2021

Ernst & Young revealed that, during the next decade, 90 percent of industry leaders plan to increase their investments in the following areas: 

Based on the survey data, respondents confirm that DT strategies adopted by their companies focus on software that covers: 

  • Client and workforce management 
  • Document processing and analytics 
  • Cloud computing and assets virtualization 
  • Trade and risk management 
  • Enterprise resource planning 
  • Legacy systems modernization 
  • And more

Hence, digital technologies have proven to bring positive results across the energy field. Below are seven oil and gas industry trends that we believe will dominate the market in 2021, enabling business continuity and improving customer and employee experience.

1. IoT for well and reservoir management 

Innovative vendors create IoT-based production optimization models that help lower operating costs, maximize ROI, and increase productivity. Such models combine the power of cloud computing, AI, ML, digital field data capture, and limitless virtual storage. There is a good reason why this technology tops the list of oil and gas industry trends for this year. 

IoT sensors and other interconnected devices networked with management software allow you to process vast amounts of data regarding the status of your assets in seconds. You can monitor such parameters as gas lift, pressure, injection, waterflood, leakage alerts, and more. IoT tools also give operators data-driven recommendations on preventative maintenance and well and reservoir usage optimization. As a result, your company can reduce downtimes associated with equipment replacement. 

The most important benefit of this trend is that you don’t have to develop such products from scratch. The IT market already offers fully ready for use well monitoring systems. Platforms like Scada Lite, for example, process real-time data from your assets 24/7, ensuring cost-efficient, smart oil and gas operations.

2. 3D printing to speed up production and field management

Versatile additive manufacturing erases barriers prompted by lockdowns as you can now, for example, print the needed spares kits or prototype new parts on-site at any time. 3D printing shortens the supply chain cycle, making it more resilient, and enforces well-timed maintenance. All these benefits make it one of the leading technology trends in oil and gas industry. However, legal conditions state that industry regulators must first approve a 3D printed part for field usage.

3. I, robot: digital contingent workers that reduce risks for humans

Aside from automating repetitive and time-consuming operations management tasks, robotics is also being used in drill pipes, wastewater disposal, and industrial machinery repairing. As robots secured their place in the oil and gas trends list and became much more affordable, O&G organizations started using them to cut labor costs and corporate overhead, observe social distancing, and speed up work. 

For instance, Norwegian O&G company Aker BP has deployed the quadruped robotic dog Spot, drones, and other mobile robots to pioneer a remotely controlled offshore mission. The goal is to optimize distributed operations and improve a production vessel’s safety and sustainability in the Skarv oil field. Sensor-equipped Spot will be patrolling Aker BP’s O&G offshore facility to run inspections, enhance quality, detect leaks, capture data, and generate automated reports.