Why Upstream Oil and Gas Mobile Technology Means Improved Productivity

By Natalie Cheng | Sep 08, 2015

Imagine an oil and gas field worker using a mobile device to check production levels while working near a well. It’s not a common sight to see. However, it will become increasingly common as E&P companies continue to invest in mobile solutions in order to better manage their people and equipment and collect more accurate data. According to a survey by Oil & Gas IQ, 89% of people surveyed thought that mobile technology would revolutionize the operational environment. With increasing demands for more efficiency and productivity, mobile solutions will help upstream oil and gas companies improve their processes.

How? Well, enterprise mobile technology allows upstream companies to better capture the massive amounts of data that they need. It also helps E&P companies monitor their workforce and all assets in the field. Since exploration and production can be high-risk, oil and gas mobile technology can help decrease some of the risk by getting companies the information that they need in order to work better. According to a report by SAP and Accenture, enterprise mobility can help the upstream sector of the oil and gas industry improve productivity, increase revenue, and even serve as a way to enable new business models.     

Consider the following areas that enterprise mobility can positively affect in your upstream processes:

Monitor Production

So you’ve already drilled some wells and you’re wondering what the production levels are for a particular well. If you’re somewhere else and not near the well, you can just access a mobile app that displays this information and then easily monitor production levels on all wells while you’re on the go. Also, with a beautifully designed app, users can see all the data that they need in a nice chart or graph, making it easier to see trends and make decisions. Field workers can also quickly gather data from the field with a mobile app so that real-time information can be synced to a central system in order to create production reports. Not only can you monitor production, you can also access a dashboard on the mobile app to see an overview of all your operations with information such as job cost, mud weight, daily drilling progress, etc. Imagine being able to monitor all drilling operations with a smartphone from almost anywhere. This becomes a reality with a mobile app.

Asset Management

Another area that mobile can affect upstream processes is in asset management. Making sure that all equipment is running smoothly, workers are safe, and emergencies are addressed quickly is an enormous task. The cost of oil and gas equipment mismanagement alone can be extremely high. From a white paper by National Instruments, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) did a study that calculated the comparative maintenance costs for different maintenance techniques in US dollars per horsepower (HP) per year. Applying the numbers found in the study, just maintaining a 1,500 HP motor with a scheduled maintenance strategy would cost $36,000 per year while it would cost $25,500 with a reactive maintenance strategy. When this cost is multiplied by the number of rigs across an entire fleet, the cost can reach up to $54M per year for a scheduled maintenance plan. Ensuring that equipment is properly maintained is huge! Because of these high costs, researchers from the study recommended a predictive maintenance strategy as the most cost-effective. Depending on the asset and its importance, the maintenance strategy will vary. In order to continually monitor all assets, oil and gas companies can implement mobile solutions that will enable rapid responses to unforeseen risks and help in timely maintenance. If an emergency comes up, field workers can quickly notify others with their smartphone and can report the issue in the mobile app. In addition, mobility allows managers to rapidly assign and send the nearest workers to fix the equipment. Mobile apps can accelerate the scheduling and completion of maintenance work along with helping workers find all the parts, tools, and information that they need in order to complete tasks. This will help improve productivity and responsiveness to emergencies and equipment issues. For critical assets, using sensors to collect data and a mobile app to collect this information will help oil and gas companies better predict and react to equipment failure.         

Materials Management

Want to make sure that your workforce has all the materials that they need? Mobile apps can help in the procurement and reordering process. When field workers notice that they need a particular material, they can use a mobile device to record and request the item. This information can then be synced with the back-end ERP and EAM systems.  

These are just some of the areas where mobile can have an impact on upstream processes. By examining your specific company’s processes, researchers can uncover even more areas where mobile can make a difference and designers can create solutions specifically for users in the field. By focusing on improving processes with a mobile solution, E&P companies can realize more efficiencies, increased productivity, a happier workforce, better data, and improved ROI.

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