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Robotics: The Next Big Frontier in Oil & Gas Exploration and Production

Posted in Energy, Key Findings

Deep sea maintenanceThe Oil and Gas industry has historically seen limited differentiation between oilfield service companies, so how does a company set its brand apart from the pack? Technology: More specifically, with the use of robotics and artificial intelligence technologies in exploration and production.

Robotics is the branch of technology that deals with the design, construction, operation and application of robots, as well as other computer systems, for their control, sensory feedback and information processing. These technologies deal with automated machines that can take the place of humans in dangerous environments or manufacturing processes, such as deep-water drilling.

Robotics is causing profound changes in the way the world has always worked, and today companies are designing rigs with the goal of automating the entire drilling process in order to bring increased levels of safety. In fact, deep-water drilling – 500 feet or more below the surface of the sea – remains the next big frontier for oil and natural gas production.

According to Norwegian Oil and Gas consultants Rystad Energy A.S., deep-water production is expected to account for 13% of global output of crude oil and natural gas condensates by 2020, up from 10% last year. In the U.S., offshore oil production from the lower 48 states, mostly the Gulf of Mexico, is expected to grow 18% from its 2011 level by 2020, thanks to exploration as deep as 5,000 feet, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

As they drill deeper, energy companies are developing new technologies to find oil and gas under barriers like the thick layers of salt found in some of the world’s most promising offshore fields. BP estimates that in the Gulf of Mexico, 80% of the area’s future oil and gas reserves may lie beneath this layer.

Leading energy companies including Chevron, Statoil ASA and BP are investing heavily in new technology. Norwegian oil services company WeST Drilling Products AS, a unit of the WeST Group, has created a robotic oil rig that it says will reduce drilling time by 50% and drastically reduce the safety risk of drilling by taking most of the people out of the process. BP estimates the new technology could give it access to the equivalent of an additional 10 billion to 20 billion barrels of oil overall in the U.S., Azerbaijan and Egypt.

The goal is to enable safe exploration at pressures as high as 20,000 pounds per square inch and temperatures as high as 350 degrees Fahrenheit, which would allow companies to drill much deeper than they can now. Pressure and temperature increases as you drill deeper, and the current technical limits for drilling are 15,000 pounds per square inch of pressure and a temperature of 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

Many people believe the misconception that robots have taken away jobs from workers, but that is not necessarily true. Robots have created new jobs for those who were once on production lines with programming. They have pulled employees from monotonous jobs and put them in better, more challenging ones. They also allow U.S. companies to remain competitive, keeping jobs local. Robots are user-friendly, intelligent and affordable.

Bullets

  • Women are less likely than men are to have either used a fire extinguisher or received training on how to use one, according to Cintas. More than four in 10 men (44%) have received training on the use of a fire extinguisher, compared to 29% of women. Men are more than twice as likely as women to have used fire extinguishers in an actual fire: 39% of men vs. 15% of women. (cintas.com)
  • More than three-quarters of Americans (78%) have actively taken steps to reduce their home energy consumption in the past year, according to Nielsen. For the most part, energy-saving efforts take the form of simple lifestyle habits, such as turning off lights (42%) or electronics (17%) when not in use, changing thermostat settings (33%), and replacing old appliances with more energy-efficient models (7%). (neilsen.com)
  • Led by expansion in non-OECD countries, due to both population growth and an understandable desire for more comfortable living standards, global energy demand is projected to rise by around 1.1% per year to 2035. (total.com)
  • The typical fracturing fluid is approximately 90% water and 9.5% sand, with the remainder being additives that aid well production. The oil and natural gas industry has led the way in its support for public information about fracturing fluids by voluntarily disclosing the contents of its fluids on the website FracFocus.org, which is run by the Groundwater Protection Council. (api.org)
  • Oil & gas mineral royalties are treated as ordinary income and are taxed at your marginal (highest) tax rate. The bracket for each rate doubles if you are married filing jointly up to the 15% rate. At that point, the marriage penalty begins to set in and a family pays 28% of everything over $139,350, compared to 28% of everything over $83,600 if each person were single. (mineralweb.com)

Marketing Research Firm | Houston