By Sarah Byrne

LINKING advanced technologies with global sharing of knowledge and skilled personnel is the future of the oil and gas industry, according to Accenture oil and gas executive Bernadette Cullinane.

Speaking with Oil & Gas Australia, Ms Cullinane said the oil and gas industry would follow the lead of the mining industry in the use of remotely controlled onsite vehicles, in order to reduce costs and increase efficiency.

The use of technologies such as robots to replace workers in risky environments could also reduce accidents and the costs associated with high risk environments.

“We are very aware of safety in the oil and gas industry to the extent where individuals are replaced with drones or the use of video analytics to identify if there are issues with pipelines or flare stacks,” she said.

“This has become common as it allows much greater access to analyse the status of a flare stack rather than having to figure out a way for humans to safely access it,” Ms Cullinane said.

Oil and gas companies were also increasingly turning to digital tools for data analysis as they looked for new ways to increase production.

These new systems allow companies to share data with experts from different disciplines around the world – identifying trends through the collaborative use of statistical tools across different functional areas.

Analysis of these trends can help oil and gas companies to reduce production outages, improve safety and to develop a better understanding of their workforce – eventually enabling them to better attract and develop key talent.

Companies will also increasingly collaborate with individual experts to generate ideas and solve problems, Ms Cullinane said.

When applied to the oil and gas industry, crowd sourcing can be used as a platform to reach experts to analyse information, solve business problems or explore ideas.

Among the early proponents of this practice is Kaggle, which Ms Cullinane said was the largest consolidated knowledge sharing site for data scientists.

“The company can submit a challenge, opportunity, question or problem area to this crowd sourcing company,” Ms Cullinane said.

“They have a number of oil and gas companies listed as their clients and they have identified some problems that they are solving with these companies.”

Over the coming years the industry will see capital projects move into the operations phase and the role digital technology will play in developing the industry, Ms Cullinane said.

“The oil and gas industry has a tremendous buoyancy and need to ensure these capital projects are delivered and they are transitioned safely into the operations phase and the operations are up and running at an efficient level,” she said.

But services companies would need to adjust as the industry moves from the construction phase into the production phase.

“Services companies are at different stages, the major companies which work all around the world are certainly prepared for the operations phase in Australia,” Ms Cullinane said.

“Some of the mid-tier or smaller companies are still coming up to speed with what it will mean for them, and to be ready to support not just five or six trains in Australia but over 20.”

“That’s going to take a couple more years, so I don’t sense a downturn of any sort happening in the Australian oil and gas industry,” Ms Cullinane said.