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June 30, 2014
Can clean field data drive better decisions in oil and gas companies?
By: Dean Forrester

For oil and gas companies, information is the largest untapped resource. Remote locations, geographically dispersed workforce, logistics, sensors... so much is happening in the fields that the data must flow back regularly to the back office to be processed and disseminated. How can companies turn data into their next asset play?

The goal of field data capture, or the process of collecting, transmitting and cleansing operating data (measurements, pressure, temperatures, flow-rates etc.) from an oil or gas field and channeling it down the organization, is to ensure that this data is of the highest quality to enable accurate reporting and better decisions. This data can be used by, among others, maintenance, corrosion management, partner and government reporting organizations, and of course, real-time surveillance tools at digital oilfield centers. But the process of capturing and converting raw, messy data from the field sites into clean data that producers can actually use is time-consuming, rigorous and difficult. This is because operators need to deal with the process of moving large quantities of real-time data from the field site to the operations teams based in regional management centers for analysis. Transmission of the data can be complicated by the lack of infrastructure, for example in parts of Wyoming or the Australian Outback with limited commercial telecom services, or constrained by very few data pathways and low bandwidth connections.

Not surprisingly then, good old-fashioned pencil and paper still rule. Several days can pass before the data is entered into the systems, relayed to the regional management centers and accessed by management for effective decision making. But now there is a growing knowledge base of how to use latest technologies including mobile and analytics and structured business processes to optimize data collection, implement quality and data completeness checks, and upload to automated systems allowing decision makers instant access to useful data. The good news is that oil and gas producers may be finally able to get accurate data for fast decisions in an increasingly competitive industry.

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