The oil and gas industry constantly collects, processes and analyzes ever-increasing amounts of data, and the computing devices they’re using to do so today are mobile and small. Today’s oil and gas industry has taken notice of the potential financial and competitive advantages they gain from mobile and cloud computing.
Mobile computing promotes exploration, drilling and production workflows, and allows crews and managers to stay connected so they can collaborate on projects no matter where they are. Large visualization displays and workstations are still needed, but small-screen mobile devices are being used as ancillary devices in the field because they are so convenient and portable.
Massive computing and storage resources in the cloud create value and save oil and gas companies money by connecting a network of CPUs–to a cloud that’s private and internal within a company’s firewall, or public and distributed externally across the globe. Nagaraj Srinivasan, vice president of research and development at Halliburton, says their technology developers are excited about mobile and cloud computing, and can make operations much more intuitive and visualizations much richer.
This has all been made possible with the availability of smart phones and tablets with access to cloud computing via wireless communication, which has revolutionized mobile computing in the oil and gas exploration, drilling and production industries. Cloud computing is designed to enable self-service, economies of scale, and simpler infrastructure management. During surface and near-surface microseismic acquisition, these companies need to know precisely where and when someone is at all times, and this feature is built into smart phones and tablets using global positioning systems (GPS). The geophones (based on smartphone technology) they use today detect microseismic activity and can be placed permanently so there’s no longer a need to drill observation wells; recordings are perfectly repeatable for time-lapse 4-D monitoring. And geophones are equipped with smart phone-like systems that know where they are and can communicate with a control system to record data continuously.
The oil and gas industry has a need to stay connected to data and decision makers to perform optimally, and collaborating with mobile devices via the cloud permits this. A new generation of mobile hardware and software solutions has had a game-changing effect that has enhanced workflows across corporate disciplines from executives and geologists to production engineers. With real-time computing environments and access to information at all times, collaborative planning and decision-making can be done instantaneously and simultaneously from anywhere they have an Internet connection. They can review survey results in real time on mobile devices so decisions can be made immediately.
Srinivasan from Haliberton believes oil and gas company personnel need to first collaborate: “through data, where multiple people look at the same data set, work on the data individually, and then share their results. The data are expressed as discrete packages that are integrated in a central manner. The second is cross-domain workflows that allow users to interact with the data in real-time simultaneously.”
Today, cellphones, smartphones and tablets connect more than 95 percent of people in the U.S. wirelessly, and it’s anticipated that more than10 billion tablets will access the Internet by 2015. As a result, major software application developers are moving away from the desktop and into the cloud. And as hardware and software manufacturers are envisioning a bright future, oil and gas professionals are also expecting great things to come.
ION Geophysical Chief Executive Officer Bob Peebler believes the potential leverage of cloud computing and mobile devices is underestimated:
“This model offers rapid deployment, service elasticity, staff efficiency and IT optimization. The iPad® provides a window into the world of cloud computing. Most of the power of that device is actually out there somewhere. Video and social media are all cloud computing…. In the oil and gas industry, we are acquiring more data and making more physical measurements than ever before, and then interpreting and simulating models built from those data…Yet at the same time that we are collecting, analyzing and interpreting more and more data, we are miniaturizing our computing devices…The technology platforms from the last 20 years are not ready for this data explosion…Companies first have to get through the security issue and the fear in externalizing the data,” he relates.
Peebler believes that using firewall protection for private clouds that can expand to external resources when needed are the answer. He goes on to say, “In 10 years, personal computers as we know them will be gone, and we will be working with servers in the sky!”
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