It’s every CFOs dream, to increase production without increasing costs. Better yet, to increase production while decreasing capital expenditures. Both of these might sound like a pipe dream, but thanks to the new innovations in the oil and gas refinery process—that is exactly what South American refineries are doing.
The process of extracting oil and gas has always been a complex one. Refineries must be responsible with their game plan, and extract only from wells that fit very strict criteria. This includes everything from its geographic location, proximity to waterways, and even the estimated capacity of the oil well. Even at that, you began drilling and extracting knowing that you will extract less than 50% of the oil in the well. However, thanks to new technological advances, drilling is no longer the only options. This opens the doors for a whole new extraction criteria. For example, it is now reasonable to go after small wells—and to expect as much as 50% extraction.
This means that you can return to your previously drilled fields as a new source of oil. This might include flooding a reservoir with steam or hot water, or utilizing thickening agents such as polymers to recover more oil. This is just the tip of the iceberg in new extraction technology. As each new extraction technique succeeds, it inspires the industry’s most innovative minds to continue exploring environmentally-friendly extraction techniques. This includes finding effective new ways to recycle CO2.
The role that digital technology plays in reshaping the oil and gas refinery process simply can’t be ignored. While the drilling alternatives above are ideal for increasing extraction, increasing extraction requires an investment in training, equipment, labor, and day-to-day operations. Many companies are carefully weighing the pros and cons of investing in something new, but if their company doesn’t evolve—then they will be left behind. This is where the advances in digital technology come to play.
The industry-specific digital software and technology are helping refineries slash capital expenditures by 20%, and improve both upstream and downstream operating costs by 3 to 5 percent. These efficiencies aren’t just attractive from a financial standpoint, but they improve communication, on the job safety, reporting, analytics, and almost every daily job duty.
While technology will never replace the human element required on the fields and behind the scenes, it certainly can make everyone’s job easier. This includes everything from Cloud computing, to mobile electronics, real-time reporting and analytics, drones, equipment sensors, and a wide range of automated logistics equipment. Even digital marketing and distribution has helped to improve profits.
The oil and gas refinery process was long overdue for new innovation. Universities and industry experts across the nation continue to work diligently to create meaningful new products, machines, equipment, tools, and technology to ensure that extraction is more efficient—and that safe and environmentally responsible advances take the industry to new heights.