Oil and Gas Companies Are Capable of Doing More with the Support of Electronic Lab Notebooks

ELN, Petrochemicals

oil and gas
Using electronic laboratory notebooks, oil and gas companies can improve their abilities to use big data effectively.
Image source: Flickr user Ray Bodden

“Big data” generally refers to very large and complicated data sets that often require special analysis techniques and tools. In many industries, the advent of big data has been recent and dramatic; however, oil and gas companies have “dealt with large quantities of data to make technical decisions…for many years [by investing in] seismic software, visualization tools and other digital technologies.”1 Still, much has been said about the diminished shape of the oil and gas industry, currently in the “deepest downturn” since the 1990s, which has resulted in lost jobs for more than 200,000 workers and a decrease in the manufacture of drilling and production equipment.2 Where and how can oil and gas companies stem the outflow of profit?

Big Data, Electronic Lab Notebooks and Now Profit?

As the management consulting firm Bain & Company warns the oil and gas industry, “Not all data is Big Data…and not all analytics require the horsepower and organizational model that Big Data applications typically require.” To take this thought even further, there are simple, digital technologies that oil and gas companies can invest in today that can both organize big data efforts and ensure that a company is maximizing efficiency, while decreasing risk. By utilizing electronic laboratory notebooks (ELNs), oil and gas companies can address the following areas more efficiently:

Big Data: Big data efforts are important for innovation, but one study found only 0.5% of data collected is analyzed3, a signifcant waste of time, effort and money. To prevent this in the oil and gas sector, electronic laboratory notebooks can serve as the organizing principle that drives the direct and specific analysis of big data. For example, as data is collected, ELNs can enable people from across the organization to access information. Specific individuals or subdivisions can be tasked with analyzing components of the data to answer specific questions. The results of focused, goal-oriented tasks can be the development of new experimental modifications that improve existing procedures for oil and gas companies. Since the data is presented in real-time and individuals can have access to it remotely and immediately, this engenders a collaborative spirit across the company, while ensuring that everyone makes good use of the data collected.

By electronic laboratory notebooks to organize big data, other benefits to oil and gas companies include the ability to very quickly evaluate the data quality to determine if an experiment must be rerun, visualize information and determine how hiring practices should be focused in specific areas. For example, if the team that deals with well optimization is having specific data analysis challenges not faced by those who study geology interpretation of 3D imaging technologies, more efforts can be directed to weak areas for the benefit of the entire company.

Safety and Compliance: There are specific risks associated with working in the oil and gas industry, including explosions, fires, falls, chemical exposures and more.4 However, electronic laboratory notebooks establish permanent records of all procedures, items and other information, which can reduce the instances of injury and/or fatalities. For example, if a specific protocol is associated with a certain number of injuries, this information is readily available with electronic laboratory notebooks, which can lead to changes in various procedures. Safety Data Sheet information about a variety of chemicals can be easily linked to the appearance of that chemical in an electronic laboratory notebook thus ensuring that all workers are aware of the hazards of working with specific chemicals, and hopefully the ways in which they can better protect themselves. Additionally, information about when instruments were last calibrated can easily be recorded, which adds another layer of safety to the process of working in the oil and gas industry.

Support Lab Efficiency: Generally speaking, electronic laboratory notebooks can increase lab efficiency for oil and gas companies. Instead of rederiving procedures by chasing paper notebooks, experiments are stored electronically and can be easily “cloned.” Lab managers and workers have access to all experiments and are more aware of what has been done and what remains to be addressed. Search tools support innovation by enabling researchers to quickly search by chemical name, experimental data or time to prevent unnecessary experiments and digital signatures incorporate the security required in the oil and gas industry as well as accountability.

The oil and gas industry has always been ahead in terms of its adaptation of technology and big data efforts and the use of electronic laboratory notebooks is a natural addition to any oil and gas company given that it supports the proper organization and use of accumulated data. To determine how the BIOVIA Notebook can support the work in your industry, please contact us today.

  1. “Big Data analytics in oil and gas,” 2014, http://www.bain.com/Images/BAIN_BRIEF_Big_Data_analytics_in_oil_and_gas.pdf
  2. “Oil Prices: What’s Behind the Drop? Simple Economics,” December 7, 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/business/energy-environment/oil-prices.html?_r=0
  3. “Analyzing Big Data: 8 Tips for Finding The Singals Within The Noise,” October 14, 205, “http://www.forbes.com/sites/brentdykes/2015/10/14/analyzing-big-data-8-tips-for-finding-the-signals-within-the-noise/
  4. “Safety and health Topics,” https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/oilgaswelldrilling/

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