What drives our "leaps of technology"?

ACCORDING to SPE’s "Technology Timeline", the world's first oil well was drilled in Baku, Azerbaijan in 1848 using a primitive cable-tool drilling technique which originated in ancient China.

Eleven years later, on September 8, 1859, Edwin L. Drake struck oil some 71 feet beneath the surface of his property in Titusville, Pennsylvania.

Drake’s success, was not so much his discovery of oil, but rather the technological breakthrough in developing a method of large scale extraction.

Impressive when it is considered that the current “time to market” process for new technologies in oil and gas industry varies depending upon source to between 15 and 20 years.

Historically, this time period has acclimatised to meet the changing industry environment facing the industry - necessity after all, is the mother of invention.

“A leap of technology as great as that which placed the first men on the moon”

The narrative of Shell’s moonscape advertising campaign of the 1970s is quite ironic given that man’s first moon walk took just over eight years from idea to realisation.

But, just as the need for supremacy during the Cold War space race fuelled technological advancement, the battle for a sustainable future for oil and gas is driving an innovative counter-offensive.

It’s not only new technologies, but innovative ways of working are beginning to disrupt established norms.

Oil and gas is once again adapting to change and pressure from industry bodies, government and, most importantly, the global market.

In some ways this is reminiscent of the 1990s, when a low oil price and the implementation of the "Cost Reduction in the New Era" report (CRINE) recommendations, meant service companies overtook operators on R&D spend for the first time.

Solutions to current industry challenges are being proffered from all directions, and not necessarily where you’d expect them to come from, such as small companies created by the engineer made redundant, or other industries and the organic development of the internet of things (IoT).

But will these be field trialled and implemented?

How long will this take?

In 2015, Ian Phillips, chief executive of the Oil & Gas Innovation Centre (OGIC), created to accelerate the development of new technology commented: “Oil and gas has traditionally been slow to adopt new technologies and new methods of working.

"It’s an industry where no one wants to be the first to trial innovation and where procurement processes can be a major stumbling block to deploying new technology in the field.”

For example, disruptive technologies such as R2S Mosaic, the next generation of visual asset management technology, have already have been field-tested.

With the support of Scottish Enterprise, Return To Scene Ltd successfully conducted a feasibility study, R&D and field testing of R2S Mosaic in under two years.

The technology utilises the technique of using photographs to create a highly accurate point cloud.

Complementing its existing award-winning visual asset management system, this enhances its role within the digital oilfield and Internet of Things (IoT) - proving that innovation and solutions to industry challenges can come from all directions.

Similarly, interaction with key contracting companies within the supply chain has resulted in greater collaboration and an understanding of how working together can be of benefit to all concerned.

Innovators must continue to embrace the opportunity to speed up the R&D cycle and “time to market” these challenges present and to view this as their space race and create these much-needed “leaps of technology”.

It’s an exciting time to be launching R2S Mosaic and we’re delighted to be doing it at SPE Intelligent Energy 2016.

We’ve undertaken an extensive and collaborative R&D process and believe what we will introduce to you this week, is an industry game-changer.

  • Return to Scene are at SPE Intelligent Energy at the AECC from Tuesday to Thursday this week and invite you to visit their interactive stand at B21.