Equipment V’s Experience in the oil & gas industry

In the early period of the oil industry, the most experienced entrepreneurs and engineers achieved almost mythical status.

In the early period of the oil industry, the most experienced entrepreneurs and engineers achieved almost mythical status. When we consider that before petrochemicals, the closest equivalent was whale oil, we can only imagine the impact that our industry had on civilisation. Once underlying well technology and know-how had expanded across the world, old hands would be highly respected. Stories of well control, and discoveries by people who ‘listened to what the well was telling them’ became the stuff of legend.

Gradually, the effects of technological advancement overtook wisdom and experience, in having a more significant impact on production. Along with continuous exploration and production records, came similar feats of health, safety and environmental achievements.

Now we live in a world where aeroplanes ‘can fly themselves’. Some might say that due to big data, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, oil wells are on the verge of drilling themselves!

Complex systems in harmony

There’s no doubt that human skill and experience is incredibly essential to every well operation. Companies such as SA Equip would argue that the quality and integrity of every piece of equipment is critical. In any complex system, the weakest link can destroy the strongest. How well can an engineer do their job if the lights are out? How will a future autopiloted AI cyber driller fare, if the electricity and generators fail?

With self-learning AI, will wells literally ‘drill themselves’ one day?

This question involves many considerations, such as regulatory legislation, globalisation, and political will, as well as AI, machine learning, and automation. If we discover a way to create general AI, then it’s unlikely that anyone will need to work in 20-40 years. This near-future prospect is regardless of industry.

If we don’t create sentient machines, then we can expect current trends to continue. Any jobs that are repetitive or involve memory recall will get automated. Anything that re can get created, and cost-effectively will be. Technological progress doesn’t leave many sure bets for job skills, but the most likely involve creativity and ingenuity.

We welcome new advancements in safety and efficiency, but things can go wrong if human factors and the company culture is de-prioritised.

Technology will continue to get better, and most of us have little influence over this. What we can all do is help to create a better work environment for ourselves and our co-workers.

Focusing on what we can control

Every business unit has a corporate strategy. The problem with a pre-planned approach is that it can come off as contrived or micro-managerial if the overall culture is out of sync. Many of the gags on the TV show ‘The Office’ illustrate this, where the boss creates motivational phrases or office rules that crash in hilariously awkward ways.

The thing that sets humanity apart from its evolutionary cousins is the way that we can harness and bend nature to our will. The most effective endeavours involve synchronicity between people, machines and the environment. By being mindful of this balance, records can get beaten, safely. Too much hubris and an intense focus on wisdom or equipment can find itself scuppered by nature.

Dave Taylor of Relentless Pursuit of Perfection, and offers a few words:

“If hiring is done carefully and meticulously with a view of shared values, and one vision, we find that practical strategic or tactical improvements get created organically. These ideas can come from any level of an organisation that has an enabling environment. Productivity techniques work their way through a company without enforcement. People find that they get the right ideas for improvement, at the perfect time, because everyone is on the same page.”

In our work efforts, we do the best we can to sharpen our skills and grow from our experience continually. At the same time, we choose the highest quality equipment and tools that we can access. AI scientists and mother nature will continue to do their things. Let us all live in a healthy state of mutual respect.

These thoughts got posted by Jason Lavis of Out of the Box Innovations Ltd. OOTBI provides digital marketing services to the energy industry.