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Harmonized APIs Help Capture the Value of Data

Data in the oil and gas industry currently exists in system silos. Lack of data is not the challenge. A wide variety of data is collected, including sensor values, piping and instrumentation diagrams, enterprise resource planning data, and depth-based trajectories. Rather, the challenge pertains to data usefulness. The root of the problem is a combination of factors, including poor data infrastructure, incompatible operational data systems, and restricted data access.

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Digitalization is at the top of corporate-agendas across industries today, but a company must operate and innovate in its own ways to achieve market success. Flexible, open, and common application programming interface (API) standards allow companies to set themselves apart from their competition by combining services and solutions from the best providers and suppliers to create innovative solutions to common problems.

APIs are one tool the industry can use to reduce the friction and enable the industry to harvest the value of data at scale. So how is an API different from a file format for data exchange?

An API allows search, filtering, and computations on top of data without downloading the full data set. It abstracts away the complexity of the underlying storage formats and lets users focus on the specific use case they are trying to solve. Good APIs allow different players in an area to connect and communicate efficiently. It helps a data scientist get access to the required data in an intuitive and efficient way. It allows a process engineer to get access to real-time data from a well. As most companies have slightly different work processes, great common API standards can help a company combine different software services and platforms in a way that matches their business logic and internal processes.

Standardizing the APIs for data exchange in the industry could unlock a community of developers who are comfortable and trained in the new APIs. The developers are then able to create custom applications or use the API to connect already existing solutions in the market.

APIs are only valuable when they are being used. This requires well-crafted, intuitive APIs that define the information objects the industry wants to share in a consistent manner. It has to include business logic to perform operations that will empower the users. Harmonizing APIs in the industry would allow for rapid development and rapid scaling of applications or services across companies.

How To Build a Common API

The industry should follow a few guiding principles when defining common APIs related to leveraging and sharing data in the industry:

  • APIs are defined iteratively, driven by concrete use cases with business value.
  • All services using the API need to provide their relevant output and insights in a structured machine-readable format, enabling ingestion into the API to ensure continuous enrichment of the data set.
  • No underlying technology will be exposed through the APIs, to ensure continuous optimization—and allow companies to implement the technology of their choice.
  • All external data sharing will happen through an open, well-documented and -versioned API, using the OpenAPI standard.
  • All data needs to be searchable.

In the oil and gas industry, the operators need to define the API and the suppliers will adapt. In the short term, this will reduce friction and remove waste across the value chain because information and data will be managed in a way that allows for more convenient use of data for each oil and gas operator. Furthermore, as operators start sharing data within areas where they are not competing, such as health, safety, and environment and perhaps equipment and system data, new and potentially disruptive insights can be mined by the industry from the aggregated data sets.

The consensus in the industry indicates that operations data and seismic data have the biggest value potential. Creating a common API for the full value chain should be done iteratively, to ensure rapid value capture. Operations and maintenance is the natural area to start, because value can be proven quickly and the data complexity is manageable. With a proven model in operations, the industry should strive to replicate the model in drilling operations, field development, and subsurface.


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