Oil, Gas Automation and Digitalization Trends of the Future

The oil and gas industry is currently in the middle of a digital transformation.

Essentially, the overall application of new digital technologies in different ways has allowed the industry to move forward after a tumultuous few years at the hands of low oil prices.

During the Offshore Technology Conference in Houston, known for showcasing cutting-edge and innovative offshore technologies, Rigzone visited the booth of Emerson Automation Solutions and spoke with chief technology officer Peter Zornio and senior vice president of sales and marketing for Operational Certainty consulting, Jerry Brown about trends the industry should look out for.

More Purposeful Strategies

“As people have gotten more experienced in what technology is and what it can do, they’re picking very specific application areas for specific problems they want to solve, rather than just putting some new technology in place and seeing if it will work,” said Zornio. “For example, they may say ‘we’re going to tackle maintenance and reliability because that’s the best opportunity for us to see the biggest ROI.’ We’ve also seen some people take a technology leap of faith without necessarily having well-calculated ROIs and knowing what all the business results are going to be. Now they’re backing away from that approach and saying ‘before we do one of these programs, we’re going to know exactly what it is we’re trying to improve.’”


“One technology I think is at the beginning of the hype curve is blockchain,” said Zornio. “We’re at the phase now where I’ve heard people come up with all kinds of scenarios in which I think ‘you could do that, but I’m not absolutely sure it’s worth all the effort.’ In some instances, blockchain makes sense (such as a custody transfer where you want unadulterated record of what was done). But I’ve also heard people say every piece of data that is communicated should have a blockchain trail on it so you can know that’s the data that was sent and received and I question if that’s really a big problem today that you would need to solve.”

Gaming Technology in Oil, Gas

“Virtual reality (VR) is a real application which helps tremendously,” Zornio said. “Before a worker flies out to the platform, we can walk them through that platform 50 times virtually from the safety of the office, so they learn where everything is and how the process responds.”

“There’s a lot of investment in that space,” Brown added.


“One of the things that everyone remains concerned about – and rightfully so – is cybersecurity,” Zornio said. “We can’t talk about putting data out in the cloud and sending data to third parties for analysis without talking about cybersecurity. It’s not an impossible problem; it just requires a lot of attention to detail and tested solutions. When we talk to our clients and don’t bring up cybersecurity, I feel like we’re being naïve. We do let them know we are capable and know how to address it.”


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