Smart Oilfields and 4D Surveys: New Technologies Power Oil and Gas Explorations

Oil and gas industry

The oil and gas (O&G) industry is facing numerous challenges, from market volatility and diminishing supply to embracing reducing costs and remaining competitive. But recent years have seen huge advances in technology related to finding, extracting, and producing oil and gas. These developments allow companies of all sizes to find substantial quantities of natural gas and oil, which may alleviate worries about running out of fossil fuels.

The Smart Oilfield

The Internet of Things (IoT), or the extension of internet connectivity to physical objects, has penetrated the O&G industry. Smart technology-powered oilfields have components that constantly communicate on a single platform. This allows companies to manage and track all the data coming from the oilfield more efficiently. Here, IoT applications promise three business objectives to each O&G segment: to improve reliability, optimize operations, and create new value.

Upstream companies (i.e., exploration and production) can optimize their processes, and by finding new and faster ways to analyze diverse sets of data. According to Teradata, the upstream energy industry loses about $8 billion annually due to non-productive time because engineers spend most of their hours manipulating data.

Midstream companies (i.e., processing, transportation, storage, and marketing) can leverage IoT to data-enabled infrastructures and use these to find new commercial opportunities. The U.S. shale boom caused pipeline companies to shift from the simple business of transporting products between fixed supply and demand centers to a more complex model.

The new, more dynamic model requires companies to transport products from multiple locations to new markets and end-users. Midstream energy companies can use IoT to update their aging infrastructures to improve the safety and reliability of their pipelines – a crucial development given that the midstream energy industry loses $37.23 billion to thefts and leakages.

Lastly, downstream companies (i.e., refining of petroleum crude oil and distribution of products) can capitalize on promising opportunities for revenue generation by expanding their visibility in the supply chain and targeting new consumers through digital marketing.

4D Seismic Technology

Engineers at an oil and gas factory

Recently, there has been a collective worry that the earth’s oil and gas resources are depleting, posing a supply crisis for the O&G industry. But through 4D seismic technology, oil companies can now more easily monitor hydrocarbon reserves. 4D seismic tech or time-lapse seismic compares multiple 3D surveys taken in the same location at different times.

3D tech only looks at the height, width, and depth of oil and gas reserves, whereas 4D adds time as a factor. 4D technology tracks the changes in a reservoir over time by comparing 3D surveys. Years of oil and gas extraction causes the reservoir to change its shape. These changes show where production has already taken place. 4D technology identifies the changes in the reservoir’s shape because these mark where hydrocarbons have already been drained.

The 4D seismic maps show drillers and oil companies areas in the reservoir that are still teeming with hydrocarbons, which help them optimize their production processes.

Technological advancements have penetrated various industries, including oil and gas. These innovations have helped O&G companies improve and expedite their processes, allowing then to continue to meet market demand.

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