Digital technologies have been used in oil and gas exploration and production, as well as in refining, for many years. The amount of data harvested is growing exponentially and is now fundamentally transforming industrial processes and the way we work.
Digital analysis techniques have been used for many years in the exploration of oil and gas deposits, particularly through seismic reflection surveys (See Close-Up "Locating a Potential Oil or Gas Deposit"). These techniques have made it possible to obtain 2D, then 3D and now 4D (or time lapse) images of potential deposits. After drilling, additional measurements are taken using sensors that are lowered into the wells to assess pressure, temperature and the properties of the rocks. These methods are known as logging.
Sensors are increasingly used throughout industry and particularly in refining. They are connected to machines and continuously record operating data under normal conditions. When analyzed, this data allows operators to detect weak signals, making it possible to anticipate problems before they become worse. This is what is known as predictive maintenance.
Thanks to significant progress in transmitting this data at high speeds, processing can now be centralized and carried remotely in control centers, known as smart rooms. This method is extremely useful for refineries, which cover several square kilometers.
Digitization is likely to transform working conditions in the coming years. Gradually, all installations are being modeled in 3D with all the related technical documentation. When an operator works on a part, he or she can first work on the digital model and remotely consult the control room. A limiting factor in the oil and gas industry is that the materials used must meet anti-explosive standards, which sometimes means they lag behind devices used in everyday life.
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