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AFT Blog

Welcome to the Applied Flow Technology Blog where you will find the latest news and training on how to use AFT Fathom, AFT Arrow, AFT Impulse, AFT xStream and other AFT software products.
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Are Oil Companies Really That Backwards?

I had to laugh when I read this article in last week's edition of Businessweek "Big Oil’s Rejection of Silicon Valley Is Finally Coming to End". Who would have thought oil companies were so backwards? I bet they still use sliderulers too! Here is one of the opening quotes:

“Onshore North America used to be a market where state-of-the-art technology went to be humiliated,” said Tom Curran, an energy analyst at FBR Capital Markets & Co. “You’ve had a clear shift occur where onshore North America for the first time in recent history has become a technology play.”

As I have alluded to in other blogs, I myself came out of the aerospace industry. I have always been involved in technology. Heck, I am an engineer. Apparently the only technology that counts as real technology happens in Silicon Valley.

Today's low oil prices at $50 a barrel did not happen by accident. It happened largely because of advances in (drilling) technology in the USA. In a July, 2014 article, "HORIZONTAL DRILLING IS CHANGING THE GAME" before oil prices tanked:

I must admit my previous notion on extracting oil was quite ignorant of the technological advances US oil companies have incorporated today. Images of old, beat up oil derricks with oil spewing out of the top ... was sadly my perception of drilling for oil.

But it is nothing of the sort, and the innovative equipment used in horizontal drilling allows oil companies to reach oil and natural gas deposits typically trapped more than a mile below the surface in tight shale formations created tens of millions of years ago.

Then, after oil prices tanked there was this article in the Wall Street Journal from September 2015: Oil Companies Tap New Technologies to Lower Production Costs. Here is a quote:

Big oil-field-services companies like Halliburton Co. and Schlumberger Ltd. say their customers are hungrier than ever for technology that saves them cash.

The real story is this - oil companies have been innovating and implementing technology since, well, forever. As Businessweek references, perhaps oil companies are, like many other industries, now focusing on newer types of data mining that in the past they did not have time or resources to pursue. Big deal. That happens in many industries. That does not mean that they are only now finding out that they should be using more innovative technologies. 

I see so much technology permeating the sphere of industrial creation and delivery of products to the global marketplace. I just wish some folks would get off their high horse and stop saying that Silicon Valley is where the only "real" technology is developed.

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Comments 2

Guest
Guest - Dhiru Patel on Friday, 12 May 2017 13:35

Trey - This article hits well on the prevailing myth. Oil industry and by extension other industries that make and move day-to-day useful products and services have been developing and using technologies since the beginning.

Trey - This article hits well on the prevailing myth. Oil industry and by extension other industries that make and move day-to-day useful products and services have been developing and using technologies since the beginning.
Guest
Guest - Geoff Stone Australia on Tuesday, 27 June 2017 18:26

I know of oil & gas companies , and their consultants, that still use spreadsheets to undertake complex hydraulic studies. Still think Joukowski is the answer to all their Waterhammer problems!!!!
One instance when I sought the PLC logic so I could model the operating system more closely , the response was they had no records. Software engineers could not decipher the PLC code which didn't use tags and was full of redundant code. They were reluctant to run tests to establish what happened when specific fault conditions were conducted in the field.

I know of oil & gas companies , and their consultants, that still use spreadsheets to undertake complex hydraulic studies. Still think Joukowski is the answer to all their Waterhammer problems!!!! One instance when I sought the PLC logic so I could model the operating system more closely , the response was they had no records. Software engineers could not decipher the PLC code which didn't use tags and was full of redundant code. They were reluctant to run tests to establish what happened when specific fault conditions were conducted in the field.
Guest
Friday, 19 August 2022
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