How Digitization in Oil Gas and Petroleum Helps Keep Business Flowing

From start to finish, digitized data is the lifeblood of the energy sector.

The phrase “data is the new oil” has recently cropped up on LinkedIn and Forbes, and big players in data science like IBM have also amplified the motto. It means that raw data is abundant and can be extracted from a number of sources, similar to how natural gas and oil can be extracted from veins and deposits around the world. However, it also means that data must be refined in order to harness its full potential— just like how petroleum is refined into gasoline to power modern vehicles.

What makes this allegory even more interesting is how data is playing an increasingly important role in oil, gas, and petroleum industries. The growing digitalization of energy systems has resulted in an increased need for digitalization in the energy sector. Keep reading to learn more about how data digitization in oil and gas has become essential to nearly every stage of the business.

Want to know more about upgrading your products and services? Check out The Executive's Guide to Digitization in Business.

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Digitization: petroleum land surveying

In the past, oil deposits were discovered based on surface-level observations. Some of the first oil wells built in the United States were dug near locations where an oil slick covered the topsoil, or where oil was found floating on top of a body of water.

However, as more applications for oil and natural gas were developed, the world’s need for oil far outpaced the amount that could be found bubbling on the surface. Thus, land surveying practices were harnessed by geophysicists in order to determine the most likely locations of deeper oil deposits. This seismic survey process results in a massive amount of data for each location that must be parsed in order to make sense of it.

None of this would be possible at the scale required today without the ability to digitize data. Using computers to gather and store results allows geophysicists to filter out any junk data, such as vibrations from other sources that could interfere with their measurement process. As a result, the ability to quickly process and sort through diverse datasets has enabled the modern world to keep its lights on.

Outside of geophysics, land surveying is also essential for facilitating land transactions. In order to determine the value of a land parcel, significant factors are considered that come in a wide range of documents and other data formats. Naturally, these resources are dramatically improved with digitization tools, as can be seen in this 2016 study by the Copenhagen Consensus Center analyzing the impact of digitization on land surveying in Bangladesh. This process enabled historical data from the late 1800s to be securely stored and referred to when appraising the value of land in the developing nation.

Did You Know?:The fi-7600 is a flexible, high-volume ADF scanner that can digitize up to 300 documents in a single batch with reliable skew protection and convenient stacking.

Digitization: petroleum pipelines

The practice of building pipelines to transport liquids over long distances has persisted since the ancient Roman Empire. Since that time, innovations have been made to improve the durability of pipelines, as well as the potential distance they can cover and volume of materials they can transport. However, accidents can still happen with major consequences for the environment, local communities, and businesses involved in the energy industry.

How can data digitization in power sector regions help solve this problem? One proposed solution is to build smart pipelines that can gather several different forms of data in an easily accessible digital format. With built-in sensors that can track corrosion and pressure, these modernized aqueducts can identify obstructions and potential leakage points before they turn into a catastrophe.

The possibilities presented by using smart pipes in the digitalization of energy systems are extremely attractive for a number of reasons. This has led governments to push for increased adoption of this technology through funding and close participation with private industries, both within the United States and abroad.

One of the most interesting uses of digitization in pipeline construction is the ability to predict future issues with the aid of a digital twin. A research paper from 2020 discusses how Chinese developers implemented data digitization during the construction of a pipeline in 2017 to generate a simulated model they could test in order to evaluate the structural integrity of the real thing.

Using a digital twin developed in tandem with the pipeline, the builders were able to calculate trends in crack growth, corrosion, displacement of surrounding soil, and other key concerns. While it sounds futuristic, it all began by simply taking in immense quantities of information from documents related to the construction materials, land where construction was taking place, and blueprints for different aspects of the pipeline infrastructure.

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Digitization: oil, gas pricing

Seemingly everyone has an opinion on the price of oil and gas, but there’s never just one reason why these resources are priced the way they are. Determining energy costs is an extremely complicated process that incorporates several factors, such as:

These variables are constantly shifting, and all of them figure into the price of oil per barrel and gasoline per gallon. Fortunately, data digitization in energy sector applications makes it possible for global markets to make on-the-fly adjustments in real-time.

For example, one of the most influential price setters for the global oil market is West Texas Intermediate. In a 2010 document outlining its methodology and impact, the company explains it evaluates the weight and chemical composition of crude oil around the world to classify it as “heavy,” “light,” “sweet,” or “sour.” These gradings are then incorporated into “the official price formulas of a number of countries selling crude,” including those in South America, Africa, and the Middle East. Without data digitization, neither WTI nor several other price setters would be able to calculate these variables and set fair prices for their oil and gas.

Our recommendation: fi Series scanners

Energy sector companies pursuing digitization for their stores of documents have no shortage of options. We take great pride in having spent the last 50+ years researching, designing and developing some of the most advanced and powerful electronics in the world, including our professional grade fi Series scanners. These scanners are ideal for digitizing data for a wide range of industries, helping you collect, refine, and harness it just as efficiently as you do barrels of oil.

Built to purpose for the most demanding document handling jobs, the fi and SP Series scanners are capable of processing tens-of-thousands of pages per day at the highest levels of accuracy. They’re also adaptable enough to meet the unique demands of the industry; for instance, the fi-7600 scanner is capable of digitizing ultra-long documents up to 200 meters, such as mineral surveys, in a single pass. Their intuitive integration capabilities minimize time-to-value for businesses looking to invest in tools that will pay dividends for years to come. Click here to learn more or shop the rest of our production scanner line.