One of the greatest dilemmas for oil and gas operators is when they should implement new, innovative and potentially disruptive technologies— technologies that change the way the industry works.
Does the industry do this when the market outlook is rosy and the focus is on production with the pumps running 24/7? Or does the industry do this at quieter times when it’s relatively seamless to access, modify and upgrade rigs (as is the case in the North Sea at present, for example)?
That being said—when things are starting to ramp up again, as is the case on the North American shale plays—does that also provide an opportunity to reevaluate one’s technology strategies and enter a new era of long-term sustainable success and increased efficiencies?
The good news is that this message is starting to resonate.
In the areas of solids control and fluids management, for example, the industry has started to embrace new technologies over traditional shale shakers, which is a technology that has been around for decades and uses vibrations and high gravitational forces to filter out solids for discharge or treatment.
In such cases, alternative and radically different technologies that improve separation enhance the quality of the drilling mud to deliver superior drilling, and reducing waste costs can strike a real chord with operators looking to secure that extra competitive edge.
And embracing these new and disruptive technologies is having an almost immediate impact on the bottom line, particularly in the onshore market, where cost strategies and structures can be adapted more easily than offshore.
In the case of onshore drilling pads, for example, which are increasing in their flexibility and turnaround times, implementing new solids control technologies can have an impact on cost budgets almost immediately.
Of course, there are capex hits when deploying such new technologies, but the impact on drilling operations, fluids management and solids control can affect the bottom line quickly. No longer can operators put off new technologies because they see the benefits as being enjoyed by future people in their roles.
Changing behavior when it comes to drilling operations isn’t easy, particularly when margins are so tight or the focus is on increasing production. However, the simple messages of improved drilling efficiencies and cost reductions are impossible to ignore, and the quest for new technologies and new ways of working must never be put on hold.
The oil and gas sector should be part of a continuous product development process where technology innovation, improved efficiencies and reduced costs are seen every day. The operators that understand this will reap the benefits now and well into the future.