Big Data, technology’s crude oil

Companies acquire data every day in addition to what have been stored over the years. In the oil and gas industry, data come in many different formats. Managing, merging and converting these different data formats so that the data can be used across multiple applications is a major problem.

When a company acquires of all these data sets, they still need to link, match, cleanse and transform data across systems. Companies also have to correlate relationships, hierarchies and multiple data linkages, otherwise their data can get out of control

Exploration and production companies are no stranger to Big Data. Oil and gas companies conduct geophysical surveys both onshore and offshore to acquire 2D, 3D and 4D seismic surveys that generate significant amount of data in terms of data storage capacity. These companies also use data collecting sensors in subsurface wells and surface facilities to collect real time information to monitor their assets. In addition, some companies acquire satellite images in combination with other air borne geophysical surveys for exploration purposes.

This has led many at oil and gas companies to suggest that Big Data is the future for the oil industry. So, can Big Data be considered the oil of the new economy, as asserted by many in the industry?

If this statement is correct, then oil and gas companies need to treat Big Data like crude.  This means Big Data is valuable if refined, and cannot be used in its original state, therefore it must be broken down and analysed for it to have value. Unfortunately, Big Data comes from multiple sources and in increasingly complex forms. Some of the challenges faced by oil and gas companies include:

  • Data capture;
  • Data analysis;
  • Data curation;
  • Data sharing;
  • Data storage;
  • Data transfer;
  • Data visualization; and
  • Data privacy.

Overall, this makes it a challenge for oil and gas companies to collect, interpret, and leverage Big Data. The key to Big Data is to have the right technology and advanced analytical capabilities to process and extract important information to help operators and business leaders make accurate and faster decisions.

With the right technologies, and the massive about of data collected should lead to more accurate analyses. A recent study carried out by Accenture and Microsoft back in April, 2015 showed that most companies are ready to invest the same amount or more in digital technology despite the fall in oil prices.

This is surprising given that many oil and gas companies are cutting investments in exploration and production. In a future article, OGSpace will look at some of the best technologies to implement in Big Data management and analytics.

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