Digging deeper: how technology is fueling oil, gas and mining expansion into emerging markets
Oil, gas and mining industries are in the midst of a long and sustained period of success. Despite the continuing global economic recession, demand for energy shows no sign of slowing. Crude oil consumption increased by around 1 million barrels per day in 2011, and the price per barrel has continued to rise throughout 2012.
Recently, the oil, gas and mining sector has had to cope with global recession as well as the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe and supply interruptions created by the Arab Spring. These incidents may have set some industries back - oil, gas and mining companies have moved forward into unexplored territories, using new technologies to assist them.
Global exploration & production (E&P) spending is forecast to reach $600 billion in 2012, an increase of around 10% on 2011. This rise is due to investment in emerging markets like Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Russia - some of the harshest, most remote environments on earth. This isolation can't negatively affect site productivity - meaning state of the art communications, safety and security systems are essential.
real-time communications, more efficient operations
Expanding oil, gas and mining operations into the most isolated places in the world requires world-class connectivity.
Duncan Seager of Orange Business Services comments, "Where once remote extraction operations were seen as largely unprofitable ventures, today they form vital pillars of progressive business strategies. These remote locations are home to new resources, so forward-looking companies are committing to expansion and investing in their future."
Orange is helping them do this with broadband satellite, microwave and cellular networks, making remote sites no longer quite so remote. Today, sites enjoy similar technological benefits as branch offices, for example the latest unified communications (UC) tools like instant messenging (IM), email, voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) calling and videoconferencing.
UC helps improve health and safety management while driving greater productivity from remote operations. Teams can collaborate more easily, meaning highly-qualified experts can work from central locations and oversee multiple projects. The cost savings is significant, as average oil, gas and mining sector specialist salaries continue rising. With the average management-level contractor in Russia earning US$730 per day, for example, the savings offered by centralizing project management operations in Siberia become clear.
Smart mining techniques are helping increase safety and lessening risk at remote mining sites, while reducing costs. Monitoring data from mobile devices, supervisory control and data acquisition systems (SCADA) as well as enterprise asset management (EAM) systems all help to prevent problems before they happen. This helps companies move towards the digital mine model, where exploration, measurement and temperature data are all collected, stored and analyzed digitally. The digital mine model makes remote-site workers as safe as possible and site data as secure as possible. High-speed connectivity is powering this.
Ships conducting seismic and geological surveys also benefit from real-time communications and connection to corporate networks. Previously, a ship performing 3D seismic surveying would need to transmit large amounts of data back to shore over a 256 kbps satellite connection - an expensive and time-consuming process. Today, the Orange VSAT satellite-to-VPN connectivity lets them do it in real time, much more affordably. This means earlier drilling of new sites, shorter project durations and, ultimately, more productive operations. Once, seismic data analysts would need to be onboard ship - today, they can work from one central office and oversee multiple surveys.
"Companies operating in remote locations face unique challenges due to environment and climate, but have the same needs of less remote businesses - operating more efficiently, being agile and being more productive. We help them operate as they would in corporate environments and enjoy all the benefits of high-speed connectivity, application integration and unified communications wherever they are," Duncan Seager continues.