Karl Blanchard, COO, Weatherford on digitalisation in the oil and gas industry and the outlook for these resources in the global energy sector, as well as how to maximise the effectiveness of available data
Emerging technologies, including the increasingly large amount of data available, can provide a major boost for the industry.
Weatherford COO, Karl Blanchard, says he is positive about the prospects for oil and gas. However, he adds that the business must make the best use of newly available streams of information across the entire production process.
He says, “The oil and gas industry produces the energy that drives the world and fuels the world’s economy.
“Other competing technologies and energy sources are gaining their place. But so far as the outlook for oil demand, it will continue to increase. Regardless of all the naysayers, I don’t see that changing. I am bullish about not only the need for oil, but also the ability of our industry to evolve and compete.”
Making the best use of new technologies is an extremely important factor for the future, says Blanchard.
He explains, “When you look at the opportunities and challenges, there are two areas with featured technologies that present the greatest potential for Weatherford and the industry.
“One area is managed pressure drilling, which we are presenting at ADIPEC with our PressurePro® MPD control system.
“Overall, I think managed pressure drilling is coming into its own and increasing in adoption.
“It started in the early days as something that enables drilling complex wells with very tight windows in offshore and deepwater environments. But as we’ve matured, you see it more commonplace use in slightly different applications.”
“Not that we couldn’t drill formations before, but now we can drill them so much more efficiently. We can control pressures and, at the same time, improve formation performance to produce more oil and gas. I think managed pressure drilling is rapidly emerging and becoming important across the full spectrum of the industry.”
The other technology that Blanchard emphasises is VERO™ automated connection integrity, which is on show at ADIPEC and builds dependable barriers with computer control.
“We can evaluate the quality of each connection and identify potential problems with a degree of certainty not previously possible,” he says.
“The system reduces the level of human involvement so we can remove some personnel from the rig, which is a huge safety advantage.
“We think these areas, along with the aforementioned technologies, offer very significant opportunities going forward in our industry.”
But alongside the availability of more data is the need to utilise it to the best levels, says Blanchard.
“The technology is exciting, but we still have a lot of runway left to deliver oil and gas at a more efficient level and at a lower cost,” he explains. “I think that’s a huge impact for the industry as we compete now against other sources of energy in the world.”
“In digitalisation, you hear the term Big Data. You see advances around having and handling more data. I believe the challenge lies in the fact that we can retrieve more data than we can handle, and many other industries have encountered the exact same issue.
“The data volume expands very rapidly. Initially we are swimming in data, and don’t know how to transform it into actionable information.
“The industry will have to learn what data provides information that we can leverage. By doing so, it will lead to improved efficiency, whether innovating new technologies or improving operations that achieve production at a lower cost.”
Partnerships can be important in developing new technologies, says Blanchard, and he adds that he is optimistic about the future in that area.
“I think the industry has become much more comfortable with collaboration between companies, including clients. We have begun to understand that we can join forces in the right way and for the right value. It is much more accepted today than it was 10 or 15 years ago,” he says