The rapid progress of technology such as big data and analytics, sensors, and control systems offers oil and gas companies the chance to automate high-cost, dangerous, or error-prone tasks. Most oil and gas operators are starting to capture these opportunities and would do well to accelerate their efforts. Companies that successfully employ automation can significantly improve their bottom line.
While automation offers many potential benefits in the upstream value chain of exploration, development, and production, some of the biggest opportunities are in production operations, such as reducing unplanned downtime (Exhibit 1). Given the oil and gas industry’s substantial increases in upstream capital investment, optimizing production efficiency1 is essential. Automation creates several opportunities to that end: maximizing asset and well integrity (by which we mean optimizing production without compromising health, safety, and the environment), increasing field recovery,2 and improving oil throughput.3