On August 6, Weatherford International plc, one of the biggest multinational oilfield service companies, announced the complete integration of Power BI, Microsoft’s business analytics service, into ForeSite, its production optimization platform, adding a powerful product in its digital oilfield offerings.
Atul Chakrawarty – Analyst : Energy and Power sector at MarketsandMarkets™, shares his views.
The concept of digital oilfield has been in practice for quite some time, but the ever-changing oil prices and its intense pressure on enhancing operational efficiency has led to the incorporation of technological innovations in the oilfield industry. New technological advancements such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), digital twin, robotic process automation, autonomous underwater vehicles, predictive analytics, and state-of-the-art sensors have taken center stage and are driving the digital oilfield industry. For instance, Cairn conducted the Ocean Bottom Cable (OBC) seismic survey in India using the time-lapse (4D) seismic technology, which successfully extended the life of Ravva oil field by identifying areas of undetected and by-passed oil.
Impact on Weatherford
Although the ForeSite Platform has been in the Weatherford offerings since 2017, this recent move to integrate Power BI in the optimization workflow would add advantageous capabilities like interactive data visualization – shrink and summarize huge amounts of complex data from various nodes, levels and systems into interactive intelligible reports, and create custom data reports. Weatherford also announced the pre-built data visualization dashboards targeting:
1. Financial Health Report – to gauge production versus expense
2. Failure Analytics Report – to gauge current and historical failure data to gain insight into the efficiencies of equipment, technology, process, etc.
3. Asset Performance Dashboard – to assess real-time functioning to ensure production targets, equipment health, asset runtime and downtime, etc.
4. Manager’s Report – to provide a comprehensive overview of asset performance, efficiencies, and production against expense data
These features will make Weatherford’s product portfolio more attractive to prospective clients as they search for effective solutions to optimize their respective businesses.
Impact on the Market
As the pressure has been mounting to reduce operational costs and increase efficiency, the industry has begun to incorporate technological advancements to cut costs and maximize production. The figure below shows the global oil & gas upstream capital spending trends (as a percentage of total spending between 2014 and 2018):
There has been a clear decline in capital spending due to better process optimization. The recent uprise is attributed to tighter oil supply, increased demand from strategic petroleum reserves, continued production cut by OPEC, and sanctions on Iran.
Companies continuously look for solutions that cut costs and make the decision-making process easier, faster, and accurate. In this scenario, Power BI integrated ForeSite gives an edge to Weatherford over competitors like DecisionSpace from Halliburton.
Digitization and Changing Structure of the Oilfield Industry
The traditional oil & gas industry is increasingly becoming digitized in every part of the world. The global digital oilfield market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.77% from 2019 to 2024. Europe was a dominant digital oilfield market at USD 6.87 billion in 2018, which is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.51% between 2019 and 2024. But it will not be the fastest growing market because of the increasing transition toward renewables and low carbon-emitting energy sources. The Middle East is expected to be the fastest growing market. It had a market size of USD 2.96 billion in 2018 and is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 5.51% between 2019 and 2024, followed by North America, at a CAGR of 5.08% from 2019 to 2024. The Middle East’s fast growth is attributed to speeding oil exploration in the onshore and offshore areas and increasing investments by major national and private players to digitize old oil fields to reduce their capital and operational expenditure.
The rapid digitization and need for integration of new technologies are changing the structure of the oil & gas industry. These developments are making it a necessity for the traditional oil & gas companies to collaborate with tech firms to provide new optimization solutions. For example, Weatherford, being one of the biggest oilfield service companies and among the top integrators in the industry, partnered with Intel in 2017 to implement IoT in the oilfield industry to enhance efficiency and profitability of production operations.
The below figure shows the number of contracts & agreements, new product launches, mergers & acquisitions, investments & expansions, and partnerships & JVs in the digital oilfield market from 2014 to 2019.
The oilfield upstream industry is transforming, and being heavily influenced by digitization has created a unique supply chain. As the oilfield industry has reached a point of saturation with regard to process optimization through traditional ways, any new optimization in this particular industry now is almost always done by implementing and integrating novel technologies and solutions brought in by players outside the oil industry. The major beneficiaries of this model would be new entrants, mainly tech firms. Every major oilfield company is either partnering with tech firms or developing technical capabilities. According to Markets and Markets, the software & service solutions market in the digital oilfield industry was valued at USD 8.24 billion in 2018 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 4.72% during 2019–20. As the digital oilfield industry is growing, the application of new technologies is becoming a necessity. The integration of Power BI will make ForeSite a preferred option in the oil & gas industry as it enables condensed and more informative data through smart data visualization, in turn, enabling quick assessment of vast amounts of data and support in the decision-making process.
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