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Digitalization and Integration in the Oil and Gas Industry

Digitalization and Integration in the Oil and Gas Industry

Published on: 14 Jun 2024 10 min read

Growth has always been the key success metric of oil and gas companies. However, with markets in constant flux and the rapid energy transition, the industry is now pursuing steady growth with increased environmental awareness.

Digitalization and Integration in the Oil and Gas Industry

Although a bit tentative about digitalization, gas and oil companies seek more digital technologies to utilize opportunities upstream and throughout the supply chain. The global push to reduce carbon emissions has shifted the industry’s focus on even more efficient operations.

Building a System Integration Strategy

Even though the benefits of digitalization are somewhat clear for oil and gas companies, implementing all the necessary technologies may be difficult. One hurdle to overcome is that the business needs and the implementation of separate systems for different departments very often precede the integration strategy.

Regardless of their end goal, starting a system integration strategy early is best. Even if keeping existing systems in place requires minimal effort, early planning can prevent confusion and stress. This approach is also recommended if upgrading to a better system. Whether integrating, switching, or upgrading to a CRM like Salesforce or adopting AI to analyze geological and seismic data, early planning and the right skills and experience lead the way.

To accelerate delivery, many oil and gas companies can adopt an integration strategy with MuleSoft. MuleSoft is an integration and API management platform that plays a significant role in enabling a composable enterprise architecture. Virtually 99% of companies run on APIs, but few have turned them into a strategic lever. With MuleSoft’s Anypoint Platform, IT teams can unlock vital systems, applications, and data through API-led connectivity.

The Anypoint Platform helps enterprises organize and reuse APIs easily, fostering a composable architecture. It also allows them to create their own technology solutions without requiring much IT assistance.  MuleSoft can also easily integrate with Salesforce to enable data synchronization and business process automation between Salesforce and other applications. As a result, project delivery is faster, and digitalization is supercharged.

Digital Optimization across the Supply Chain

In addition to transforming how oil and gas are discovered and extracted, digitalization significantly impacts the industry’s supply chains.

Oil and gas companies generate vast amounts of crucial data. It must be quickly and reliably shared between remote locations and external partners. Advanced data analytics can assist in gathering, verifying, and utilizing these large amounts of data. It can also help ensure consistent supplier onboarding and resolve supply chain inefficiency and shipment delays.

To make better decisions across the enterprise, oil and gas companies are adopting a “cloud first” approach. This data-centric strategy cuts the high costs of on-premises systems and boosts efficiency.

The first step is to move important applications like ERP, big data, collaboration, and analytics to the cloud. This also involves adding IoT sensors and predictive analytics to global equipment. These tools gather real-time data for business teams to monitor and report on key information. This includes economic factors, geological updates, logistics, drilling, fracking, and production outputs.

Next, oil and gas companies need a standardized solution to transfer, integrate, and process these large datasets. The data needs to be transferred seamlessly between new cloud applications and older on-premises systems.

Integration consistently proves to be the most critical bottleneck in all three supply chain streams. Oil and gas companies have traditionally used point-to-point or Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA) approaches for integration. Point-to-point integration may seem appealing for quickly delivering a single project. Especially when rushing to get the first drops of oil in a single drill site.

However, this often leads to speed being prioritized above efficiency, causing operational costs to rise. This method is not very effective for field training or customer satisfaction. It can’t handle the growing number of endpoints. It is also struggling to meet supply chains’ rising demand for location, customer, and infrastructure data.

MuleSoft, designed with data consumption as the primary objective, achieves a consumable and controlled means of accessing connectivity. Agility and flexibility come from an integration platform with a multi-tier composable architecture containing three distinct layers – System, Process, and Experience layers. This can be done in the cloud or on-premises. 

The integration style is determined by the use cases:

  • Synchronous/APIs
  • Аsynchronous/Event-Driven
  • Scheduled/Batch

Not all three layers are required at all times, helping companies utilize only what they need and reduce costs.  

The result is automation and optimized processes organized in composable building blocks.

Upstream

Optimized seismic data management to enable rapid location and retrieval of datasets by users, enhancing the assessment of drilling sites.

Midstream

Improved data management regarding logistics and supply chain processes allows operators to plan for future utilization more effectively, evaluate risks, and forecast results.

Downstream

Collecting and using data from oil refining for analysis and machine learning, leading to gradual, data-driven enhancements.

Field

Аutomated data pipelines that ensure data from field teams is properly loaded into a data lake and catalogued, regardless of its format.

Infographic with the three possible layers in MuleSoft’s architecture – Systems, Process, and Experience layers.

Source: MuleSoft – Three-layered composable architecture.

Deliver an Actionable Sustainability Strategy

As the world demands more energy, it must be produced and delivered with fewer emissions. Oil and gas companies are embracing this dual challenge by taking action to reduce emissions through connected reporting.

One way to achieve these sustainability goals is to unleash the potential of digital solutions, big data, and advanced analytics. Modernizing legacy systems speeds up access to applications and data while supporting new technologies like mobile, cloud, and IoT adoption. Scaling environmental, social, and governance (ESG) excellence strengthens stakeholder engagement. Sharing real-time consumption data with eco-conscious stakeholders is also becoming crucial.

MuleSoft can integrate data from different systems and consolidate it into a centralized data repository or data lake. It provides a holistic view of an organization’s greenhouse gas emissions for carbon accounting and reporting purposes. This helps organizations see how much carbon they produce, find ways to reduce emissions, and set better sustainability goals.

MuleSoft APIs help track and report greenhouse gas emissions from various sources. These sources can include energy usage from smart meters, production data from oil rigs, transportation data from logistics systems, etc. MuleSoft automates data collection and ensures data accuracy by removing the need for manual entry.

The unified data can then be analyzed using business intelligence and analytics tools to gain actionable insights. Tableau, a popular BI and analytics software, can be seamlessly combined with MuleSoft to display data from different sources. This helps in calculating carbon emissions and pinpointing areas for reduction.

The major oil & gas emissions - combustion, flaring, process, venting, and fugitives, are depicted with icons.

IoT: Driving Innovation and Connectivity

Cloud computing and IoT are developing new business models while making the existing ones more cost-effective. Integrated cloud networks of IoT devices connect employees and enable remote workforce management and real-time monitoring of processes and equipment. This shift boosts operational efficiency and cuts costs related to downtime, maintenance, health & safety risks. Additionally, IoT-powered predictive maintenance can predict potential equipment failures, avoiding expensive repairs and prolonging the life of costly machinery. Likewise, smart oil fields, outfitted with advanced sensor technology and communication protocols, minimize the need for on-site personnel.

Connectivity is crucial, and a unified communication layer between operational technology (OT) and information technology (IT) is essential. The communication layer plays a vital role in all IoT solutions, facilitating data exchange between OT and IT systems.

Unified Communication Layer with MQTT

MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport) is a popular, lightweight, and efficient protocol. It reliably and securely transmits data between devices, even in low-bandwidth or unreliable network conditions, making it ideal for industrial environments. It is the standard Internet of Things (IoT) messaging protocol. Based on a publish-subscribe messaging pattern, devices publish messages to a broker, which then distributes them to interested subscribers.

MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport) has been around for over 20 years. It has evolved into a scalable, reliable, efficient, and secure messaging protocol.

MuleSoft provides a robust MQTT connector that enables users to easily connect to MQTT brokers and publish and subscribe to MQTT topics. This connector allows users to consume data from MQTT brokers. It can then convert the data to various formats like JSON or XML.  Finally, users can send the data to other systems or databases.

An oil rig with IoT sensors is connected to Salesforce and other company systems through MuleSoft’s robust MQTT connector.

The connector is available on the Anypoint Exchange and is compatible with various event-driven patterns. Oil and natural gas companies can easily connect to Salesforce, SAP, analytics platforms, and more with the Anypoint Platform features. This communication layer between OT and IT allows for a modern and reusable connectivity approach.

Conclusion

Sharing and learning from industry and external best practices to fully realize the benefits of digitalization will be essential.

With the MuleSoft Anypoint Platform, we provide a wide range of tools to help oil and gas companies embrace an API-led, composable approach. Our cross-sector knowledge enables us to draw on best practices in procurement and supply chain management worldwide. We aid companies in creating new APIs, designing interfaces for existing ones, and effectively organizing their IT landscape into building blocks that turn them into a composable enterprise. By utilizing a unified platform, enterprise data can be quickly exposed to mobile devices, web applications, and connected devices securely and regulated.

Digital transformation presents a significant opportunity for the oil and gas sector that has yet to be fully leveraged. Contact us to explore your specific digitalization process challenges.

 

About the Author:

Dimitar Grancharov

Dimitar Grancharov

Content Team Manager

Mitko has a background in journalism and advertising – challenging fields that turned him into what some would call a copywriting go-getter. He is interested in topics such as Energy and Renewables, Big Data & Analytics, everything AI, and how people-first content can reach its designated audience through SEO. In his spare time, he enjoys camping, skiing, and listening to quality Spotify lists.

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