In 1998 the price of oil reached a high of $12 per barrel, a gallon of gasoline cost 95 cents in the United States, and only 20% of Americans got their news from the Internet. It’s hard to believe that oil prices could be even lower than they are today or that when people in early 1998 did go online, they were probably using America Online (a popular Internet service at the time) and not a Web browser. Later that year, however, AOL added a new feature, “The World Wide Web,” which introduced millions of people to Websites, URLs, and hyperlinks. The petroleum industry and technology have come a long way in the last two decades.
Today, the Web is ubiquitous and integral to our connected lives. The petroleum industry, which is often an early adopter of new technology, has seen several generations of Web-based software over the last 18 years. Coupled with increasingly affordable computing, mobile devices, Internet bandwidth, and oilfield data capture, the Web is powering a massive shift in the way oil & gas companies do business.
With the modern Web, it is possible to deliver powerful engineering and geoscience tools at a fraction of the cost of traditional software. At the same time, Web-based technology extends access to new platforms and users, creating new opportunities to drive higher levels of productivity for operators and service companies.
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
Following the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, there has been an explosion of new Internet connected devices. Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer once stated that software would be delivered with “three screens and the cloud,” referring to the ability to access applications using a PC, smart phone, or TV. Today, though, Web-enabled devices come in far more than three screen sizes.
The ability to access the Web using many different types of devices has intersected with a cultural shift in many companies to allow employees to connect to corporate networks with mobile devices, such as smart phones and tablets, extending the workplace from the desktop to anywhere employees choose to work.
BYOD, in essence, means working with the device that best fits the user and situation. Some E&P software will continue to be best used on a desktop but many new use cases exist for E&P workflows on laptops, tablets, and phones, such as having pumpers collect oil & gas production data on a smart phone or monitoring field KPIs, well performance, and safety events from a tablet while travelling.
Extending Access Across Petroleum Industry
Realizing the full potential of Web-based software entails breaking from old ways of thinking and licensing software. Traditional software licensing is restrictive, tethering a single end user to a single device. Back when petroleum engineering and geoscience applications were all installed on a server or desktop computer, this was the only practical model.
End-user, or “pay by the seat” licensing is still common place in the oil & gas industry, however, Web-based software offers a paradigm shift from old ways of licensing to progressive ways of delivering software that works the way E&P companies work. For example, rather than licensing software by individual users, software could be licensed by number of wells.
By restricting access to a few users, end-user licensing effectively limits who can contribute to E&P workflows across the petroleum industry and within organizations. Web-based software that allows for multiple users opens up new ways of working and collaborating for E&P teams. Engineering, geoscience, land, and field staff could all use the same software from the devices they choose while also allowing partners and investors access to data and analysis tools, for example.
How about you – what kinds of Web-based software and devices are important to your E&P workflows?