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Implementing Modern Technology in the Energy Industry: Five Factors that Have Slowed Progress

Technological advances have made a real impact on nearly every aspect of modern life. The energy industry, however, has been slow to implement these new technologies, especially in oil fields and active extraction sites. In the past few years, however, oil companies and drilling outfits have embraced mobile devices and secure remote logins that can allow greater connectivity in the working environment. Software packages that provide support for the oil and gas reserves evaluation processes are also seeing greater use in the industry and can allow more effective management of extraction processes in real-world situations. Here are five key reasons it has taken so long for energy companies to integrate high-tech solutions into their everyday workflows.

The Need for Speed

As shale oil deposits became the primary sources for oil companies, rapid extraction was prioritized at the expense of technological implementations. While high-tech solutions were available and, in some cases, were in the process of being adopted, the learning curve for these systems often exceeded the time available to companies working to capitalize on the shale oil boom.

Preference for Old-School Methods

In many cases, pen and paper have been used to record readings and to manage spreadsheet computations in the field or in office settings. Many workers prefer these methods to technological systems that require training and experience to master. The resistance of long-time employees to modern technology has had a significant impact on the implementation of these systems in the energy industry. By allowing staff members to experience the benefits of electronic recording and monitoring systems for themselves, oil companies can often reduce resistance to these new technologies among key employees.

Lack of Advanced Training

The failure of oil companies to invest in petroleum economics training for their key staff members has also played a role in delaying the arrival of key technologies in the energy field. While cost may be one of the contributing factors in these decisions, the expected downtime associated with oil and gas risk management courses for staff members could also have played a part in discouraging companies from investing in this training during high-volume production periods.

Fragile Equipment

Oil fields and refineries can be hard on electronic equipment. The harsh conditions encountered in these environments require rugged and durable smartphones and tablets. Until quite recently, however, these systems were often prohibitively expensive if they were available at all. Modern advances, however, have brought the price of heavy-duty tablets and smartphones down and have made it more practical for energy companies to adopt these devices on a general basis.

Fears about Security

According to a 2014 article in the Financial Times, the infrastructure of the energy industry is one of the most likely targets for cyberterrorists. Computer systems and networks must be secured and protected against these attacks to ensure the safety of workers and those living near oil drilling and refining facilities. In the wake of serious data breaches in the retail environment, the need to protect industrial control systems in the energy field has never been greater. Establishing robust security systems that prevent unauthorized access to these vital elements of infrastructure can allow modern oil companies to ensure public safety while continuing their operations. Secure login technologies and careful monitoring can allow energy firms to implement modern accessibility options safely and effectively.

By integrating digital technologies into everyday workflows, oil and gas companies can enjoy significant benefits:

  • Increased productivity throughout your operations
  • Faster communications between managers and staff in the field
  • Improved accuracy for recordkeeping functions
  • Added options for tracking and predicting oil production

Providing the right training and software packages for staff members can ensure the best possible start in implementing modern technologies. This can allow oil companies to adapt to the evolving state of the energy industry and to prepare for the challenges ahead.


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