From Whiteboard To Digital Oilfield

From Whiteboard To Digital Oilfield

Date PublishedMarch 30, 2017
Article AuthorMichael Maltsev
Article TypeMarch 2017 Issue
CategoryArticles, Oil & Gas
Tags, , , ,
PULSE Interactive

From Whiteboard To Digital Oilfield




A Digital Business Model
For Oilfield Services

Oilfield PULSE Magazine
March 2017

From Whiteboard To Digital Oilfield

There is not much the oil patch can do about a global oil price languishing at roughly half what it was three years ago, and there is not much more it can cut from today’s lean operations to further trim expenses. However, there is a big opportunity the oil and gas service industry has largely overlooked even as other sectors of the economy have been transformed by it: the transition to digital.

The wave of digital transformation unleashed by the constant advancement of technology is unrelenting, and service companies are actually going to be more impacted than their customers are. Think about it. All it takes is for one service company to innovate even a little bit, and the next procurement will favor that supplier. The buyer does not even have to take advantage of digital solutions to demand digital innovation of their supply chain.

The traditional dispatching interface with a service or rental company to deliver a service to the wells is still a manual exercise that has not materially changed in decades. This reflects back to when labor was cheap, services were inconsequential, and mobilization costs irrelevant.

Many oilfield service and rental companies in North America traditionally use whiteboards, Excel spreadsheets, and the telephone to manage and track current operations. These tools are visual, simple, and fast! Unfortunately, they have many disadvantages today. They are not scalable, not mobile, and hard to coordinate. The manual approach does not have any true ability to optimize cost.


From Whiteboard To Digital Oilfield

Digital technologies are here to stay. They are evolving much faster than anyone can easily predict, and they will have unforeseen impacts. They are already making an appearance in the oilfield, and their business applications are instructive for how progressive companies view the role of digital in their business models.

The key word here is “progressive”. The more progressive companies no longer just deploy point solutions to continuously cut costs and gain incremental improvements. They embrace the way systems think, target sustainable cost reduction, and embed an innovative mindset. These companies have realized it is not about doing things better but doing things differently. Exploring digital technologies is one such way of doing this.

From Whiteboard To Digital Oilfield


Fleet Management

Obtaining real-time data—through the use of wireless networks, sensors, and video analytics—from on-board sensors to improve asset identification, tracking, utilization, and logistics operations (e.g., vehicle telematics, GPS tracking).

Field Productivity

Maximizing worker efficiency by providing wireless mobility that enables on-demand access to eld data, engineering drawings and inventory, and communication with centralized operations experts (e.g., field tablets and augmented reality).


Real-time safety data capturing, issuing wearable devices to enable continuous monitoring of field employee location, work status, and health to prevent safety incidents or to decrease response time for emergency responders (e.g., wearables: RFID tags, GPS trackers, H2S detectors).

From Whiteboard To Digital Oilfield

From Whiteboard To Digital Oilfield

Smart Assets

Collecting and analyzing sensor data related to flow, temperature, vibration, and integrity to improve operational safety and performance-related decisions (e.g., wireless vibration data transmitter, fluid level sensors).

Software Integration

Software to software collaboration via Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to avoid data double entering.

Of course, there are many more things to optimize, but these are the main ones.

From Whiteboard To Digital Oilfield


  Transparent Integrated Operations: sales, dispatching, safety, field operations, approvals, invoicing, purchases, etc.

  Real Time Notifications: alerts about any changes to improve management decision
(e.g., email notification or mobile push notifications)

  Integrate Geographic Data: (maps) to help managers visualise the business

  Scalable and Flexible: to meet growing operational requirements

  Low Cost: of implementation, maintenance, and support

While the melding of digital technologies with the oil and gas industry is nothing new, its adoption has been gaining momentum in recent years as the technologies have become more sophisticated, useful, and affordable. The next generation of oil and gas workers will not want to work for long in field services and operations unless this area is modernized using today’s technologies.

From Whiteboard To Digital Oilfield

4 Steps to Move Forward

To move forward, the existing business model and corporate culture of the industry needs to change and adapt to the new reality of potentially longstanding low commodity prices that make the business model of three years ago obsolete. Companies need to become more nimble, less risk-averse, and open to new motivational and decision-making processes. The following recommendations could speed the implementation of digital technology and make the Digital Oilfield a reality.


The survey done by JWN in November (Digital Oil eld Outlook Report) indicates 43 per cent of respondents have some reason(s) hindering their understanding of, or exposure to, Digital Oilfield technologies with almost two-thirds of that group indicating the subject was, “Out of the scope of their role.” Realizing the transformative benefits of Digital Oilfield technologies demands commitment from organizations’ top levels to drive the adoption strategy forward as well as messaging throughout the organization to increase the scope and support for integrated application.


There is a good possibility your assets are not going to be t for purpose if they are not smart assets. As a result, you need to revisit your business strategy to determine how you could reposition your company and its assets and services in what will be a digital world. New business models beckon.


The Oilfield Service Digital Strategy should consider these new business models, the role of data, and possible futures that involve a lot more automation, analytics, and devices than today.


Unless the information systems are two years old or less, it is highly likely they are not designed for a digital age. Set out a road map that allows a progressive and cost effective approach to upgrading your business infrastructure. The upgrades should line up with the business strategy and digital strategy. If the system is not key to the strategy and will not help create a digital future, defer any change.

From Whiteboard To Digital Oilfield

Michael Maltsev
Founder & CEO

From Whiteboard To Digital Oilfield






Originally published in the

March 2017 Issue of
Oilfield PULSE