Petrochemical Expansion: How Can Digital Notebooks Help Firms to Meet Increasing Demand?

ELN, Petrochemicals

Despite the volatility in the global oil market, petrochemical companies are still finding ways to expand. How can ELNs support their efforts?
Image source: Flickr CC user George Socka

Last month saw oil prices dip below the $30 per barrel threshold for the first time in 10 years. If we still had any doubts about the current volatility in the global oil market, I imagine they’re long gone by now. In fact, many people claim that the situation is the worst we’ve seen in 45 years.1 And if plummeting prices weren’t enough to worry about, the oil industry will soon have to contend with the Great Crew Change, when approximately half of its workforce will be entering retirement age—and taking large swaths of institutional knowledge with them.

Despite the difficulties facing the industry, however, the petrochemical sector still remains a source of potential growth. While fracking persists as a point of contention among environmental advocacy groups in the United States, shale gas development has brought two benefits to the industry. First, it offers another source of energy. Second, and perhaps more important in today’s economic climate, it provides key raw materials to make plastics and other products. These two things are driving petrochemical companies to expand their existing plants in anticipation of this growing sector.2

Some critics might view the expansion with skepticism. After all, low prices for crude oil mean shrinking profits and shrinking profits can lead to layoffs. Even so, signs point to global petrochemical demand increasing. Canada, for example, expects it to exceed the growth of its own GDP over the next decade.3 If anything, relatively low costs of petrochemicals and abundant feedstock may ultimately contribute to a competitive sector as more companies invest in this burgeoning area.

Petrochemical Firms Can Use Digital Notebooks to Help Their Expansion Efforts

While expanding plants can lead to more jobs—especially in the energy and chemical manufacturing fields—petrochemical companies need to think in the long-term. As part of their efforts to shift priorities, organizations should consider incorporating digital technology into their facilities. Electronic tools such as digital notebooks offer many advantages to organizations:

  • Reduction of cycle times: The time required to complete a project can be cut dramatically. Digital notebooks typically come equipped with a flexible editor that can handle multimedia, ranging from traditional data formats to image files. All information related to a project can be stored in one centralized location. Digital notebooks also have the ability to tag data, which makes it easy to find results and cuts down on time spent searching for information.
  • Lowered project costs: With a digital notebook’s searching capabilities, researchers can ensure that they aren’t repeating past experiments. Before spending time designing and constructing a new protocol, they can first check to see if the work is even necessary in the first place. By preventing needless duplication, companies can minimize wasted time and resources, ultimately lowering expenditures.
  • Increased collaboration: Digital notebooks offer tools that support sharing between colleagues, no matter the time or location. In today’s global environment, where organizations span geographical boundaries, having such an ability is crucial to success and maintaining the pace of innovation.
  • Protection of Intellectual Property: As more organizations move toward using digital technology to store and share information, security also grows in importance. Electronic notebooks come with tools that protect proprietary information via digital signatures, timestamps, and access controls.

Even though the oil industry is currently going through upheaval, petrochemical companies can still continue their efforts to deliver innovative technologies and products. If anything, it must become a focus to remain competitive in the years to come. Oil prices don’t appear ready to increase anytime soon and Middle Eastern companies seem determined to continue their efforts to produce more oil, contributing to the present-day glut. But with potential opportunity appearing in other sectors, firms can shift priorities to remain afloat. And throughout the process, they’ll need the best tools to help their present endeavors, as well as those in the future.

The BIOVIA Notebook is a flexible digital notebook that supports collaboration, data management, and IP protection via many built-in features. Through its implementation, petrochemical firms can boost productivity and streamline their workflow, which can help their efforts to remain profitable in difficult times. The BIOVIA Notebook’s ease of use also allows for quick deployment, resulting in an observable effect within mere weeks. If your company is interested in incorporating the BIOVIA Notebook to support your plans to expand into other areas, then please contact us today to learn more.

  1. “Oil prices slide near $30: here’s what you need to know,” January 14, 2016,
  2. “Demand for petrochemical industry jobs continues,” December 7, 2015,
  3. “More than $25B in industrial projects,” January
    25, 2016,

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