Efficiency is vital in the oil and gas industry, and operators are constantly on the hunt for a competitive edge as they seek to produce hydrocarbons as cost-effectively as possible. This drive for efficiency has seen the industry shift towards automation that reduces human error and cuts costs. This change is particularly evident in mature plays such as the North Sea and the US onshore, where cost constraints are such that more and more must be done with fewer and fewer staff. Continue reading “Digital Transformation in Hydrocarbon Accounting”
Since we created our cloud service in 2009, one of the first in oil and gas and still the leader, we have built and managed our own infrastructure in multiple data centres in the UK. After a year of work, in the next week we’ll be moving our platform to infrastructure provided by Amazon Web Services, and I wanted to explain why.
In my last post, I discussed the origins of our company, what motivated us, and the problems we were trying to address. I discussed our primary driver as the belief that it had to be possible “to do it better.” As the company evolved, nowhere was this need for improvement more evident than in oil and gas software, but the path wasn’t easy.
We run a cloud service for oil and gas. Our goal is to grow organically, and to grow profitability not staff numbers. We value a high degree of autonomy, and we operate entirely virtually. We’ve been extensively using cloud services to run our business for over ten years, and now virtually everything we do, from mail and calendar to accounting and document management, is done in the cloud.
However, we didn’t start out that way. Continue reading “A Different Way”
At our regular Hydrocarbon Allocation (HA) Forum in Aberdeen yesterday, we had a terrific “state of the union” presentation by Laurence Ormerod, Consultant and Project Manager for the PRODML standard. By the way, if you don’t attend our HA Forums then you might want to check out our website for details, and sign up for our mailshots. They are intended to be deliberately free from sales messages, and are generally held in Aberdeen at breakfast or lunchtime.
An article on open source tools to “make your presentations pop” intrigued me initially, then bemused me, then annoyed me. Ignoring for a moment the desirability or otherwise of having presentations that “pop”, the bemusement came from the realisation that the entire focus of the article was on creating effects and transitions, and absolutely nothing about content. The annoyance began when I realised that several of the oil and gas conferences I’ve attended recently have implicitly taken the same approach, focussing on presentation over content.
People often ask me how our cloud service for production data management, production reporting and production allocation is different from traditional solutions. This is a hard question to answer, as I want to describe the distinct values of my product and company without seeming to denigrate the competition.
I’ve spoken at several conferences about the failures in standards efforts in oil and gas, and I’ve commented on the reasons for these failures. I’ve also highlighted the key characteristics of successful standards efforts in other industries. In the short version, this boils down to my well-worn aphorism “adoption beats perfection”. The longer version is contained in the seminal paper by Hanseth and Lyytinen (“Theorizing about the Design of Information Infrastructures: Design Kernel Theories and Principles”, 2004) which, despite its title, contains material that is relevant for all standards efforts.
In a recent survey we carried out, (download the report here), we asked professionals involved in Hydrocarbon Accounting (HCA) how confident they were in their data. Around 65% said that they were “not at all” or only “somewhat” confident in the data they were using as input to the hydrocarbon allocation process. This situation is problematic, given that allocation is all about determining the division of ownership of hydrocarbon products, and that mistakes can have a real and substantial financial impact. Inadequate systems and processes can make it difficult to manage routine issues like mismeasurements, and initially small problems can give rise to a cascade effect with consequences that are difficult to unravel. A failure of compliance is not the least of the potential problems.
I made a presentation at yesterday’s conference on Developments with the Digital Oilfield in London. The title of my talk, “Why private cloud is a cul-de-sac of doom”, was somewhat tongue-in-cheek, and intended to be mildly provocative. However, I had a serious purpose, in that the words and terms we use to describe things are important in creating clarity and driving ideas. Misusing them dilutes their power and ultimately diminishes opportunities. In that context, the term “private cloud” is one that has minimal value and causes confusion.