Embracing the digital revolution

The digital revolution is here, and the oil and gas industry is finally catching up and embracing the new technologies available.

Bringing O&G into the digital age manifest itself into several forms, including the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), new automation services with built-in connectivity to support services and moving data into cloud-based systems, allowing instant transfer and up-to-the-minute status on machinery and other hardware.

At a recent conference, Ahmed Hashmi, head of upstream technology at BP, discussed how digitization and technology is impacting R&D, especially when it comes to understanding data. He explained how before, to automate, a programmer would have to write controller logic to make the controller talk to the automation abilities, but now, there is visualization software available.

Mr. Hashmi also discussed that improvement still needs to be made when it comes to software development to keep pace with the rapid increase technology.

Speed will be an issue with digitization. As a plant updates their hardware and software, in just a few years, it could again become outdated or obsolete. That is where cloud-based data transfer can help. This allows issues and problems to be seen by support services quicker, allowing them to come up with a resolution before it ever becomes a major problem. This also allows companies to save money by updating the software machinery instead of replacing the machinery itself.

With an increase in sophisticated automation, and with more data transfer, the risk of attack becomes greater. Increasing with digitization is the need for cybersecurity. During AFPM’s annual meeting, Gavin Mead, a partner at KPMG, spoke on the importance of cybersecurity specifically for operational technology (OT).

One of the biggest issues Mr. Mead sees is air gaps, which are network security measures employed to computers to ensure that the network is physically isolated from other unsecured networks, such as the public Internet. As Mr. Mead said, “the air gap has ceased to exist.”

Companies have to be vigilant, because with digitization comes greater risk. These risks of cyber attacks should not, and will not, deter the industry from advancing technologically.

Full digitization of the industry is coming, and with it, comes complete connectivity, quicker response and improvement and possibilities no one could have imagined 50 years ago.

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