When emerging technologies and key trends are discussed there is a vast array of suggestions made and debated.
They range from wearable technology, 3D printing, bio-computers, through to the “internet of things” and many more.
In reality, much of this will take time to develop to a commercial grade and find uses in the real business world: to quote Gartner some are at “the peak of inflated expectation” and some in “the trough of disillusionment”.
To understand what is the “most important” emerging technology to the oil and gas industry, given the sharp drop in oil price, we must understand the benefit that technology brings and not what it might bring at some indeterminant point in time.
As such I would argue that the “most important” technology that is emerging in the sector is the drone, or to be specific drone-based inspection technology and services. Why?
- Any technology that has the ability to do eight weeks worth of work on a rig in five days and at a fraction of the price is a technology you want to be taking notice of.
- Any technology that can enable you to save £3million in shutdown costs is technology you want to be taking notice of.
- Any emerging technology that can help improve the commercial viability of an offshore rig is technology you want to be taking notice of.
The use of drone inspection technology is literally that much of a game changer.
Like all new technology, it has taken time for it to reach commercial grade. It takes experience to operate in the unique oil and gas sector, and it takes know-how to ensure the above examples can be delivered.
For us at Sky-Futures that is today. The commercial drones that we use have sohpisticated software to ensure that they fly safely, high specification cameras and thermal imaging systems to deliver the best possible inspection data/imagery, and all the supporting front end and back procedures and processes to enable that the benefits are delivered.
It is also how drone technology is now evolving with new types of sensors, new software and new back end data processing and analytics to deliver greater value over time.
For once there is a headline grabbing emerging technology that is realising commercial benefits today, as well as the realistic promise of tomorrow.
Adrian Karl is chief technology officer at Sky-Futures, which delivers drone inspection services to the oil and gas industry globally.