industry outlook series: mobile development for the oilfield

Economic climate demands near-perfection

Every now and then we’d like to take a step back from explicit Swift discussions, and dive into our assessment of opportunities in industries that don’t get much attention. The aim is to provide you with ideas outside of your current frame of reference. This week we’d like to discuss a unique opportunity for mobile development – the oilfield. The following article is brought to you by our energy-focused, sister organization – petrolytic.

For most, the thought of the oilfield brings to mind images of heavy machinery and barren deserts. While appropriate, operations are becoming increasingly digitized with an obsession for tech buzzwords of the month: machine learning, big data, artificial intelligence, etc. You name it; the industry is interested. In fact, operators and oilfield services companies of all sizes are desperate for ways to improve safety, mitigate environmental impacts, and make step-changes in efficiency. The current economic climate and public opinion demands it.

Environmental improvements and efficiency gains are not mutually exclusive

There’s no doubt that green tech and renewable energy is trending; and for good reason too. This doesn’t mean, however, that petroleum products are going away. A transition appears to be inevitable, but it’ll take quite a bit of time (barring some black swan event). In any case, there exists a number of opportunities to “greenify” the oil and gas industry and make it more palatable to the masses. Efficiency gains and environmental improvements are not mutual exclusive. As oil and gas professionals, we’ve always felt we had the responsibility to be good stewards of our land. This brings us to the crux of the article – mobile software for the oilfield.

Many might not know that exploration and production companies, as well as, oilfield services companies have significant R&D spending. Even more, many have dedicated VC funds aimed at the next big innovation. In our opinion, there exists ample opportunity to create value for all stakeholders (mobile app developers, oil companies, civilians, shareholders, state revenue… on and on).

Oilfield app ideas

For example:

  • Improving safety (oilfield priority #1) by implementing a mobile notification system to alert of workers of possible incidents.
  • Applying models on mobile devices to diagnose well issues and improve well surveillance.
  • Reservoir simulation should be available on a mobile device (even if the computations aren’t performed on-device).
  • While obvious, how about a gig-economy setup for truckers, hotshots, and frac crews?
  • AR possibilities are endless: training crews, virtual equipment/process manuals, and even surface facilities layouts

It appears to us that much attention is given to the hot sectors: biotech, social media, and the gig-economy. And while attention given to these sectors, other industries are neglected. Our take is that competition is lighter in this industry.

In conclusion, while the oil industry is moving in the direction of tech innovation, it’s incredibly lacking as a whole. The industry is craving more attention and more creative thinkers. While you might not agree with fossil fuels use, providing the means to improve the value chain is undoubtedly beneficial to all stakeholders.

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