Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Data management: the key to the future of digitalisation in oil and gas, part 2

There has been a growing trend for oil and gas companies to re-define their image as technology leaders.
There has been a growing trend for oil and gas companies to re-define their image as technology leaders.

In the second article of our 2-part deep-dive, we continue to explore how to unlock digitalisation value via our top data and information management themes in Oil and Gas.

Oil and gas core business: hydrocarbons or tech?

There has been a growing trend for oil and gas companies to re-define their image as technology leaders. Some have always dabbled in this space and have done a pretty good job at it. However developing and deploying tech is really hard to do well. And there’s still a real tension between ‘business as usual’ IT organisations and the innovation/R&D groups popping up and anticipating being supported in an agile way of working. This may also explain why so many digital initiatives stall at PoC stage discussed in part one of this article.

In response to the current global crisis, we are seeing operators making dramatic decisions to shrink back to a decision-making core that makes maximum use of service contractors to execute their exploration and production requirements. That decision-making core needs the right information on which to base their decisions.

Net Zero sentiment and “oil shaming”

The pace of change in shifting public and industry sentiment in the last 12 months has been astonishing. The conversation, driven by increasingly visible signs of climate change, has gone from talking about how we support long-term energy transition to how we achieve net zero carbon emissions in less than 20 years. The realities of the scale of the transition challenge seem to be relegated to footnotes in the debate. This makes it an incredibly tough environment to position concepts such as exploration and ‘maximising economic recovery’ when looking for investment. And now, ‘oil shaming’ seems to be a thing, where it’s no longer acceptable to admit you work in oil and gas.

The search for talent

The skills we need in the coming years are in short supply, both in the traditional realms of geoscience and engineering as well as the new roles developing around areas like digitalisation, data science and AI. The problem is we can’t attract young people with these skills to what’s increasingly seen as a dirty, sunset industry. We need to work hard to demonstrate the industry is changing and offer people opportunities to be part of the solution, not the problem. Fortunately, adversity drives invention.

Collaboration is key

From something of a curiosity on arrival, the ‘Open Subsurface Data Universe’ (OSDU) initiative appears to be getting some real traction. It seems the oil and gas industry is fed up with big vendor lock-in and/or trying to solve it all themselves. The realisation is that value comes not from managing the data but from the use of data. We wait to see if this initiative can go beyond where others have stalled – as always, the devil will be in the detail, but the early signs are positive. The OSDU is just one example of a more collaborative, open environment that is emerging post-downturn. Initiatives such as the release of the National Data Repository in the UK and the reformation of the OGUK IM Forum point to a brighter future when it comes to cracking the perennial problem of oil and gas data management.


After years of relative stagnation and large service company domination, there has been a veritable explosion in innovation in the past couple of years. This has been driven by the downturn (bright people discarded and forming their own companies), new technology (the rapid growth of affordable cloud platforms and data science capability) new opportunity (the growth in renewables and emerging opportunities in areas such as CCS and ‘clean’ fuels) and the support of organisations such as the OGTC. We’ve talked to a whole host of innovative companies such as Osokey, AEON, Loxodrome, Mapstand, TapeArk, Target and Infoscience Technologies who are all looking to push the boundaries. There are a host of entrants from outside of Oil & Gas bringing in their innovative solutions in to the mix. Here at Sword, we’re also investing heavily in innovation and digital solutions development to find new ways of tackling data management challenges.

Despite the growing challenges facing the oil and gas industry, we have real hope for the future of our industry to deliver the balance in our need for energy with the needs of the environment. We anticipate a real acceleration in innovation and our ability to respond to a rapidly changing landscape, particularly to meet the evolving demands for responding efficiently to the global pandemic we all face.

Co-authored by Gareth Smith, Head of Consulting, and Neale Stidolph, Head of Information Management, Sword IT Solutions

To contact the authors: 

For more information on Sword’s data and information management solutions please visit

Recommended for you

More from Energy Voice

Latest Posts