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5 Ways 5G Will Drive Oil and Gas Digital Transformation

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Jenna Tsui's picture
Energy and Sustainability Journalist The Byte Beat

Hi, my name is Jenna Tsui and I'm an energy, sustainability, and technology journalist located in Texas. I co-own a technology blog called The Byte Beat and I primarily write about technology...

  • Member since 2019
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  • Jul 27, 2020

Analysts often say that the 5G rollout — currently underway around the world — will drastically change how people experience the internet and connected technologies. The ultra-fast speed and low latency will unlock possibilities that users never thought possible. 

Besides bringing faster online access to homes, the new connectivity option should change how businesses and entire industries operate. Here's a look at oil and gas digital transformation options made possible by the advanced network. 

Companies Can Streamline Operations

Successful enterprises continually examine how to reduce inefficiencies and boost productivity. 5G could enable new achievements in those areas. One recent example involves a pipeline and refinery operator testing a private 5G network used to run sensors. 

The company envisions the technologies used on the network will reduce costs and allow performing more tasks remotely. This test also involves using mobile apps that sync with the sensors and give instant alerts. Having that new information could show companies where issues exist and help them respond to them more effectively. 

Enterprises Have More Flexibility for Using Connected Tech

The oil and gas industry is not historically an early adopter of emerging technologies. Many entities are starting to explore them, however. 5G could make them well-equipped to choose and utilize the technologies that best suit the goals a company wants to achieve. 

For example, some international brands in the sector might invest in cloud technologies that allow overseeing operations from anywhere with an internet connection. Additionally, artificial intelligence could bring predictive power to ongoing events, helping companies understand which decisions will prove most profitable.

Brands Will Improve Digital Transformation Through Better Data Collection

The oil and gas industry has tremendous opportunities to gather data. Doing so gives them more precise insights into operations and shows how things change over time. It's then easier to set budgets or make smarter business choices. Many companies currently use wired options for gathering data, but those have restrictive limitations, especially considering the remote locations of some oil and gas equipment. 5G could help companies move towards a wireless approach. 

Intangible costs constitute approximately 60-80% of overall drilling costs, and they're 100% tax-deductible for the companies involved. Enterprises could use 5G-powered tech to see where most expenses occur and how to make positive changes. They could also get data related to the most time-consuming tasks or the ventures that become most profitable. Data can even show companies how far they are from achieving digital transformation goals. 

Businesses Can Become More Aware of Their Environmental Impacts

Options like big data interfaces and connected sensors can push the oil and gas digital transformation forward by helping entities see where room for improvement exists concerning their environmental impacts. That's particularly crucial since some legislators want to make the sector take more responsibility for cutting emissions. 

One recent proposal in New Mexico would require oil and gas companies to capture 98% of their methane emissions by 2026. That mandate is the most ambitious in the percentage captured so far. However, other states, including Pennsylvania and Colorado, want to bring out similar proposals. Places around the world are getting more serious about making companies take responsibility for practices that affect the environment. 5G could bring more visibility so that changes can happen. 

Enterprises Have Opportunities to Reduce Failures

Unexpected equipment breakdowns, pipe corrosion or leaks are a sampling of the events that can wreak havoc in the oil and gas sector. Those issues can cause total shutdowns, along with excessive costs, wasted time, and missed opportunities. Prioritizing a digital transformation likely won't prevent all emergencies, but it could make urgent scenarios less frequent. The 5G network could offer more transparency that lets enterprises avoid disasters. 

If companies use technologies to become more proactive, they're more likely to spot problematic scenarios before they fully manifest and cause disruptions. Having easily accessible statistics also empowers companies to assess and choose when to replace equipment, schedule maintenance appointments or take something out of commission due to impending failure. 

A Digital Transformation Is Worth Pursuing

An oil and gas digital transformation cannot happen overnight — and it shouldn't. Companies can get the best results by taking adequate time to explore which challenges they face and how the 5G network could help overcome them.

Business leaders in this sector and others should also keep in mind that 5G is still in the extremely early stages. The examples here represent some of the many reasons why companies should invest in digital transformations. However, people should expect that there will be more possibilities on the horizon. Staying abreast of innovations will help businesses determine the best ways to advance by operating more in the digital realm.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Jul 27, 2020

Options like big data interfaces and connected sensors can push the oil and gas digital transformation forward by helping entities see where room for improvement exists concerning their environmental impacts. That's particularly crucial since some legislators want to make the sector take more responsibility for cutting emissions.

Do you think this opening of data would be any sort of Pandora's box where regulators can require an opening up of those books? Can this become a form of policing those emissions?

Jenna Tsui's picture
Jenna Tsui on Jul 30, 2020

Hi Matt! I'd say it's a fair statement that it could lead to a Pandora's Box scenario, as you suggested, where legislators are willing to table that type of regulation. Since the sector faces heavy scrutiny regarding environmental issues already, and as sustainability becomes more prevalent in energy, I wouldn't be surprised if big data interfaces would become another source of oil and gas regulation. Thank you for reading :-) 


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Thank Jenna for the Post!
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