IDBS Blog | 17th October 2014

Oil’s Well That Ends Well

The oil and gas industry is essential to us all. It heats our homes, provides fuel for transport and produces many related products which enhance our day-to-day lives. But what goes on behind the scenes to ensure we have a constant supply of energy to power our lives and supply us with essential materials? Just as oil and gas are critical to our modern lifestyle, efficient data management and process IP capture are vital to this business. The value of a modern ELN can be seen across all streams of the industry.

In the upstream environment (where oil exploration, drilling and mining takes place), core samples are pulled from the ground and analyzed. Here, new research techniques and processes are developed and tested. This generates large quantities of data which need to be managed efficiently. Next generation ELNs preserve the quality and integrity of this data, to facilitate interpretation. Where production is king, operational efficiencies are in demand, both on and off the rig.

Essential work carried out in the midstream is process optimization. Here scientists strive to accelerate productivity, often working in a parallel manner at a small scale. They look to identify where valuable improvements in efficiency can be made and how these can be taken into a production process. Even a small improvement of 0.1% yield or selectivity in a product may have far reaching financial implications.

Downstream, as oil is refined and transformed into different by-products, research and technology (R&T) is at the forefront and next generation ELNs come into their own. As scientists, analysts and process engineers set about producing industrial petrochemical feedstocks and polymers; speeding up innovation, scale up and optimization to bring products to market faster is hugely beneficial. Next generation ELNs provide an environment that everyone can use, irrespective of their domain, to give quick access to both the structured and unstructured data they produce as part of their jobs.

In addition to replacing the burden of paper, ELNs boost collaboration opportunities and streamline research processes so that greater value can be derived from data. Past and present research can be accessed instantly and data in labs across the world can be viewed, with appropriate permissions, to avoid experiment repetition.

Oil is a finite resource and it is becoming increasingly hard to access. Companies are being forced to spend more money to access viable sites and sources of raw materials. They are constantly on the lookout for ways of getting information faster. Crucial to this is making sense of the mass of unstructured data and translating this into structured data. Competition is rife. Innovation is critical. Oil and gas companies must be agile, quickly transforming R&T into tangible business outcomes. Next generation ELNs help these companies achieve their goals and manage their findings. They also help with process innovations and optimizations across the entire lifecycle, from before a drop of oil is extracted, to the many end products we use in our daily lives.

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