The U.S. Oil and Gas Industry Is On Shaky Ground – Can Digital Tools Help Support It?
The oil and gas industry has been in the news a lot recently. The biggest news is that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) announced that it would not cut crude production for the next six months. However, other important stories include Leonid Fedun, Vice President and board member at Russian oil giant, OAO Lukoil, comparing the shale boom to the dot-com boom and subsequent bust, as well as Jeremy Grantham, a British investor and cofounder of Grantham Mayo van Otterloo (GMO), who referred to the shale boom as “a red herring.”
Based on these and other comments, it appears that many people do not believe that the oil and gas industry will be successful in the long run. I have a different opinion, however. I believe that the scientists who are currently attempting to address some of the challenges of the shale boom are finding success, particularly in regard to increasing the lifespan of wells, and reducing costs associated with production and maintenance.
However, to continue to stay competitive against the lower cost of wells in Russia and Saudi Arabia, U.S.-based oil and gas firms will need to improve fracking processes at an even faster rate. To accomplish this, they will need to increase laboratory throughput, as well as the speed of discovery. Below are three suggestions that can help them accomplish this task:
- Laboratory Automation
Thanks to new instruments and software programs, many routine laboratory procedures can now be automated. This includes pipetting, moving plates or a number of other simple, repetitive tasks. Some laboratories have gone as far as implementing robotic systems that replace manual jobs altogether.
Thanks to laboratory automation, scientists can set up and run experiments in a fraction of the time required in the past, with little to no manual involvement or intervention. This ultimately results in an increase in laboratory efficiency, as well as an increase in the speed of discovery.
- Electronic laboratory notebooks
The experimentation phase is not the only aspect of the discovery process that can be improved. The time-intensive process of gathering and analyzing results can also be improved with an electronic laboratory notebook (ELN).
For the oil and gas industry, an ELN offers a number of valuable benefits, including the ability to index results so that they can be retrieved quickly later on. In addition, ELNs are designed to be paperless, reducing the friction that may come about due to lost documentation or incomplete notes. Finally, the digital nature of an ELN allows information to be accessed anywhere with an Internet connection. These benefits and many others can help to increase the throughput rate in oil and gas laboratories.
- Chemical Management Systems
Laboratories within the oil and gas industry handle many different kinds of chemicals. The sheer volume of chemicals that need to be tracked makes it difficult to accomplish the task manually or even using popular spreadsheet software.
The alternative is to implement a digital chemical inventory management system. The benefits of such a system are that they completely automate the tracking of chemicals. This ensures that scientists will be able to locate and retrieve the chemical and reagents they need to keep working and making discoveries.
There are a lot of individuals who have bet against the U.S. oil and gas industry. However, with the right tools, oil and gas scientists can be better able to reduce the throughput time, increase the speed of discovery and continue the success of this recent boom. For more information regarding the BIOVIA Notebook, as well as BIOVIA CISPro, please contact us today.