I recently read with particular interest a press release by the management consultancy company Booz Allen Hamilton (BAH) predicting long-term trends in the Oil & Gas (O&G) industry. Their analysis highlights, amongst others, the critical role that data is going to play for the industry: “Data will continue to create differentiators”.
O&G is a data-intensive sector like few others, and this is only going to grow in the future. O&G organisations will face new challenges with regard to managing a proliferation of data types and sources (proprietary, public, commercial) as well as generating fundamental business insights from this deluge of information. What will create differentiators, as the BAH report indicates, is the ability to derive competitive advantage from all this data – including spatial.
The difficulty that O&G organisations face in extracting value from their investment in spatial data clearly emerged from a benchmarking exercise Exprodat recently carried out with the voluntary participation of some of our clients. The study indicated that there is fairly limited take-up of the more analytical capabilities of GIS, especially outside the Exploration domain.
Based on the information gathered during this study we mapped the use of spatial functionality by business areas – the results of which are shown in Figure 1. It is easy to see that, whilst there is quite a wide use of basic GIS components across a range of functional domains (visualisation & mapping, data management, basic exploration-related workflows), few organisations, with the exception of land functions, are exploiting the advanced analytical capabilities of GIS.
Figure 1 – Use of basic and advanced GIS functionalities by domain areas (source: Exprodat).
Base mapping and visualisation is of course the staple of every-day workflows, but the value of GIS lies in its analytical capabilities. These can deliver more relevant and less biased information to the decision making process. In these times of increasing technical complexity of O&G projects, as well as geopolitical instability and environmental, social and climate change challenges, organisations are required to continuously reassess their business strategies and priorities.
This is true not only for exploration but also other areas including Engineering, Pipeline & Operations, Environmental, Safety, Oil Spill Response, Corporate and Social Responsibility, and Downstream. Spatial analysis, and the unique ability of GIS to integrate and extract value-added data, is well placed to provide O&G companies with the critical insights they need to meet internal and external expectations and to deal with unknowns (Figure 2).
Exprodat has been working hard to expand the awareness and benefits of spatial analysis in O&G for a long time, liaising closely with our clients, developing analytical tools or implementing analytical workflows. However, I’m struck by how many O&G organisations have still not embraced spatial analysis – for them it remains an unexplored, unknown black bubble that is hard to approach.
Figure 2 – Spatial analysis and use of added-value information conceptual cube (after MacEachren and Taylor, 1994).
In the last few years Exprodat has published a number of blogs concerned with the use of spatial analysis in the O&G space, echoing the message that added-value data is, truly and remarkably, creating competitive differentiators.
With the analytical capability of GIS increasing all the time, together with new exciting developments around Esri’s ArcGIS platform (which makes analytics more accessible than ever before), there’s probably never been a better time for integrating spatial data analysis in our workflows.
In the coming weeks I will be adding to the gallery of spatial analysis and analytics examples, including the use big data relevant to the O&G business. We are working with partners to expand the reach of spatial analysis in domains which will become more critical to the industry, including operations in new frontier areas such as the Arctic, and climate change.
So, watch this space! We will discuss new ideas which, hopefully, will inspire you to learn more about spatial analysis and how you could move from simple visualisation to value-isation of your spatial data. Your competitive edge may depend on it.
Posted by Paola Peroni, Principal GIS Consultant, Exprodat.