Oil and gas companies invest to remain competitive

Nathan Nye, vice president of North American sales at Datapath, outlines trends in the use of AV in oil and gas markets for Tim Kridel.

TK: What are the main trends you’re seeing in how energy companies use AV technologies? And what’s driving those trends? For example, is there an increasing use of 4K? Are they increasingly putting videoconferencing facilities in remote locations such as rigs, or do they have them mainly in their offices?

NN: Overall, companies in every sector not just energy are seeking ways to use AV technology to improve productivity. Because of the pressures the energy sector has experienced regarding their revenue stream it has prompted them to become more innovative and more of a trend setter as to what can be done with COTS AV equipment.  

The connecting of disparate resources is probably to most visible trend within the energy sector. Many call this “collaboration,” but the term is so general and the technology so diverse that it can have five different meanings and implementations among three people. At its core, extracting natural resources from the earth and turning them into energy is a complicated and expensive process. That requires a diverse mix of expertise among people and equipment. We in the AV field, and specifically at Datapath, are providing platforms by which this diverse group of people and machines can not only communicate, but are able to visualise the environment at each other’s respective location. In doing so we have improved the accuracy and the latency by which decisions can be made. 

4K is one example of how a new technology has enabled energy companies to become more granular with their geological models, ensuring a more precise operation. Couple that with the ability to share that data instantaneously through IP video encoding across wide swaths of land and ocean, and receive immediate feedback from experts not locally on site, has become invaluable. 

TK: How does energy compare to other verticals in terms of AV technology adoption? Energy companies have a reputation for being on the cutting edge of AV. An example is how they were using 4K and 3D before a lot of other verticals. I’m curious whether you see the same thing in terms of how energy companies use new AV technologies. 

NN: One concept that all energy companies understand is infrastructure. You cannot build some of the operations they utilise without having a solid foundation. This is a great advantage when it comes to the AV technology adoption process because they already understand that in order to accomplish certain tasks it is going to require investment in the infrastructure. 

Now there is no guarantee they will make the investment. However they are willing to have the conversation and that is key given what some of their applications are. Nothing is worse than having a company ask for a sophisticated solution only at the 11th hour to say, “Our network or our storage capacity cannot support this solution.” It should be one of the first parts of the conversation, not the last.

The other reason that creative and leading AV solutions find a home in the energy sector is because they use a lot of visual tools and aids to complete their job. 4K, higher resolution cameras, IP connection, etc. all have homes and uses within the energy cycle. Not all vertical markets can make that same claim. 

TK: Low oil prices have prompted companies such as Shell to slash capex. But these cuts don’t appear to be across the board. Instead, spending seems to be pretty strong on R&D and other things that will position them to rebound strong when prices increase. Are you seeing the same thing? I ask because readers will be interested in how those bright spots affect energy company AV budgets. 

NN: This goes back to the infrastructure argument. The process of extracting oil has significantly evolved over the last 50 years, so much that we are now seeing oil fields in places never thought of in 1970. 

Had Shell stopped innovating ways to extract oil, other companies would have surpassed them and absorbed more of their market share. Thus they know that, although times may be tough due to the price per barrel, they need to continue to find ways to become more efficient. AV sits in the perfect position, because it is our technologies which can help immediately reduce communication overhead costs, and provide a platform for better productivity in the future.

Other Q&As in the series:
Max Winck, eyevis
Igor Isheev, Polymedia
Nathan Nye contributes to a wider discussion on the oil and gas market that you can read here.

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