IBM’s industry expert James Neophytou shares views on technology in the oil and gas industry

by Melanie Elliott, Channel and Digital Marketing Manager

With OilComm opening its door today and so much innovation happening with connectivity in Oil & Gas, I wanted to share a recent interview I had the opportunity of conducting with James Neophytou, associate partner at IBM. James leads the chemicals and petroleum in IBM’s industrial sector and is considered a global leader in his field.

O3b has been and is continuing to focus on bringing connectivity to oil and gas rigs miles offshore. James and I chatted about a range of topics, including how low latency, high bandwidth connectivity solutions are key for productivity and collaboration needs in the oil and gas industry. He also shared insight about trends in the industry and how connectivity will play a key role in the future. I would like to share some of the insights from that conversation with you.

james-neophytou-talks-to-o3b“A lot of our clients have challenges [with regard to] logistics,” Neophytou explains. “If they had better bandwidth, then some of the challenges around connectivity for their work would diminish.” He goes on to say that because of connectivity limitations, an average technician’s productive time is around 35 percent; with improved connectivity, productivity could “improve significantly” as well.

Neophytou says that improved connectivity, via low latency, high bandwidth solutions, also help his clients plan work. “If [you don’t] have issues around latency, if [you don’t] have issues around the supply visibility, you can get a lot more productive work done,” he says. “You can get key ratios, like number of jobs done per craft per day. Ultimately, it’s all about up time and making sure that the plant is productive. Architecture will increase that—no question.”

Technician safety is also a key reason for improving connectivity. “A lot of our companies are doing collaborative work on-shore, so that they don’t have to send so many people off shore,” he explains. “If you have very strong connectivity, it makes the plant safer….Our clients want to get people out of harm’s way. Working offshore, working in harsh gas and oil environments is dangerous.” The better the connectivity between onshore and offshore parts of a plant, the safer it is for everyone involved.

Neophytou says that currently collaborative environments—remote locations communicating with a central hub—require a highly connected environment capable of supporting video, voice and data streaming with low latency. Everyone, whether in hub or in the remote locations, has to be “looking at the same screen, looking at the same data, and then have a video link, so it’s like they are in the same room. To enable those types of collaborative environments, strong infrastructure and high bandwidths are key.”

While collaborative environments require high bandwidth, they ultimately pay off. “[They] minimize disruption and will minimize waste,” Neophytou says. “If you can get engineering, logistics, materials, maintenance, procurement talking with the remote location, even if the technicians are out in the field, and looking at the same data, same screens, that improves productivity,” which will ultimately improve a company’s bottom line.

Looking toward the future, Neophytou says that “smarter oilfields,” or integrated operations, are on the rise. These integrated operations have sensors in the field, on equipment, down the drill holes, and even on people—all of which provide real-time data, essentially giving a “pulse on operations….Having a high bandwidth, low latency environment will bring those solutions to life.”

O3b provides the solutions Neophytou and other thought leaders in the oil and gas industry are talking about. Our Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) satellites provide low latency, high bandwidth connectivity, allowing for enhanced productivity and simplified offshore infrastructure. Because MEOs are repositionable, they are also ideal for capitalizing on future technology needs and trends.

O3b is onsite at the OilComm Conference,  stop by and see us at Exhibit Hall E, Booth 609.

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