Energy firms up digital investments despite plummeting crude oil prices

Research from Accenture and Microsoft questioned international oil companies (IOCs), national oil companies (NOCs), independents and oilfield services firms about their technology spending plans.

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Despite current lower crude oil prices, most companies in the oil and gas industry plan to invest the same amount or more in digital technologies, with big data and the Internet of Things being big driving forces.

Research from Accenture and Microsoft questioned international oil companies (IOCs), national oil companies (NOCs), independents and oilfield services firms about their technology spending plans.

In the near term, during the current low crude price cycle, around three out of five respondents said they plan to invest the same amount (32 percent) or “more or significantly more” (25 percent) in digital technologies.

Over the next three to five years, around 80 percent of the oil and gas industry professionals surveyed said they plan to invest the same amount (18 percent), more (44 percent) or significantly more (18 percent) in digital. Respondents from IOCs and NOCs were the most bullish in this time period.

Mobility, infrastructure and collaboration technologies currently represent the biggest investment areas across the oil and gas industry. Over the next three to five years, investments are expected to increase in big data and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and automation.

Around 89 percent noted that leveraging more analytics capabilities would add more business value, 90 percent felt more mobile technologies in the field would increase value, and 86 percent said that leveraging more IIoT and automation would boost value.

“Oil and gas industry leaders continue to look to digital technologies as a way to address some of the key challenges the industry faces today in this lower crude oil price cycle,” said Rich Holsman, global head of digital in Accenture’s energy industry group.

“Making the most of big data, IIoT and automation are the next big opportunities for energy and oilfield services companies, and many are already starting work in these areas.”

Craig Hodges, general manager of the Gulf Coast district at Microsoft, said: “Predictive capabilities to optimise maintenance and maximise production can create value, and digital technologies also support better use of scarce resources and talent, management of more complex work, cost reduction efforts and innovation to remain competitive, and continuing to operate safely.”

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