How digital projects can drive investment and reduce costs

Published:  06 August, 2020

By Cameron Gordon, business development executive, The Data Lab (pictured): Despite its rich heritage of engineering ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit, the oil and gas industry has been traditionally slow to adopt new technology. However, following the protracted downturn in recent years, this changed dramatically with companies much more open to collaborate on new technology and keen to embrace digital innovation in a bid to reduce costs and deliver ever-greater efficiencies.

The drive towards the energy transition and the quest to achieve net-zero operations has fuelled this renewed appetite for digital and data-driven applications. Moreover, the coronavirus-imposed lockdown has forced the whole industry to work remotely, further accelerating the use of data-driven, digital platforms and solutions.

This fast-changing landscape is providing fertile ground for Scotland’s data and AI innovation centre, The Data Lab. With a mission to help Scotland maximise value from data, we are on-hand to help the energy industry innovate through data.

Every organisation generates and gathers data; it’s what you do with it that can be truly transformational. Collaboration is the most effective way to break new ground using data science. But applying data science to solve energy-related solutions can be challenging. Working collaboratively with energy companies, we can provide the cutting-edge skills and in-depth knowledge to make the most of their data. Leveraging our network, we can match businesses with the right academic or specialist partners to deliver multi-party collaborations, to scope and manage a specific project, wherever a company is in its data journey, and to help access external sources of funding.

There are some great examples of project-specific data projects in the energy industry, whether it’s virtual inspections or detecting equipment malfunctions through to using data to drive efficiencies in bed-space offshore. However, the business transformation models which can be achieved across an entire organisation with a joined-up approach, rather than just a project by project basis, have yet to be fully realised. And this is where The Data Lab can come in. We can work with energy companies on two levels: firstly through our leadership training which equips leaders with the skills they need to devise a data strategy and secondly through our new advisory business service, TORCH, to then accelerate data-driven innovation and change.

With many new data science technologies less than five years old, companies are often unaware of the latest trends and developments. Our leadership training interactive workshops take people beyond the hype surrounding data and AI and demonstrate how companies can drive real value across their business through better use of data. Armed with this know-how, business leaders can then develop and de-risk data strategies which are wholly applicable to their own business.

TORCH enables those who have developed a data strategy to overcome the challenges faced when embarking upon new data projects. By investing effort into the early stages of a data project, the quality of the outcomes can be improved, and risks reduced, of particular importance in the later and more expensive phases of any data journey.

Navigating the complex data technology and services marketplace can be confusing and time-consuming. In response to this, our experts support clients by acting as a critical, unbiased friend, partnering organisations with a network of Scottish-based companies that have proven expertise in delivering solutions.

It was recently reported that dozens of projects run by the Oil and Gas Technology Centre (OGTC) are facing delays or cancellation due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Nearly half of the 150 live schemes underway from the Aberdeen technology accelerator have been affected by the virus, as operators who help test them defer non-essential spending. Those focussed on exploration and helping to produce more oil and gas, particularly those requiring offshore trials, have been hit hardest. However, digital projects like robotics, wearable technology, and predictive modelling, helping to reduce costs and offshore manning levels, are still progressing. The Data Lab is keen to support companies in taking these types of projects forward, whatever their size and wherever they are on their data journey

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