Stuck in the “Now” can Hold Back the Future of Oil and Gas

Several Oil & Gas capital project leaders I met with in Amsterdam recently have had me thinking – are we forward-looking enough in our industry? I’ve blogged before about what I believe is an opportune moment, amidst the changing price of a barrel of oil, as a chance to reinvent.

On the technology side, ideas we dreamed about just a few short years ago have already taken off. When I say taken off, I mean literally. Drones are having a big impact in solving accessibility issues. On a current major offshore build, for example, I know a construction team using drones to access difficult locations and photograph construction work, enabling engineers to remotely verify construction quality and completion. In the past, this would have would have required a team of engineers on the rig, could have been dangerous to accomplish, time consuming and expensive.

Bu, on the business side, there seems to be less creativity in introducing changes. Very few companies I know have a plan to transform to lighter weight, faster-moving types of companies. In the automotive industry, for example, we can see a significant shift to using hired expertise for various car components. The network of suppliers is well understood, and it is routine business to combine different talents together until the car is cost-effectively delivered. Technology companies do this as well, such as Cisco and their “liquid” workforce. It gives them flexibility, or in cloud language, elasticity, to contract and expand more rapidly.

supply chain analytics

In the Oil & Gas industry, we may be focused too much on today. While it’s understandable that to ensure survival, cost cutting and personnel reduction may be needed, where is the strategic thinking to rebuild once the market rebounds? How will each level of the industry, from upstream to downstream, create a new future? The only reason we have drones checking remote pipelines now is because visionaries dreamed up better ways of doing things yesterday.

I have heard from executives in our industry that there is a willingness to restart, including interest in contracted engineers to perform more work across the value chain. Certainly, there are technologies already in place to support a more dispersed, virtual team, from WhatsApp to telepresence. Our challenge now is to envision that new energy entity, and the innovative forms and operating models it may use to pull apart from the pack.

What are your ideas for changing how our businesses are run? Comment below.

Martin Richards

Martin Richards is a Senior Director for Energy Industry Solutions at OpenText. For over twenty years, he has worked with ECM technology, delivering professional services and solutions for the energy and engineering industry.

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