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Data Is Not Scarce, but Oil Companies Hoard It as if It Were

A growing number of oil industry leaders are saying that data sharing across the industry is needed, but change is coming slowly.

Recently an executive from Shell said that “unprecedented data transparency” will be needed for the oil business to adapt to rapid change. That call for action came from Mike DeWitt, vice president of operated upstream wells for Shell, during the keynote speech at the SPE/IADC International Drilling Conference, where he asked: “Is data really proprietary?”

Afterward, some delegates who heard the speech said they were struck by the call for openness in a business where that is generally not the case.

DeWitt said after the talk that while the need for change is apparent, little progress has been made. He added that Shell is supporting initiatives for more sharing.

There are multiple barriers to overcome, according to a panel at CERA­Week, an annual conference of oil and gas industry executives. Data-driven decision making represents a challenge to how engineers have historically made decisions in a business where companies shared as little as possible about wells and operations.

“Pivoting to a data-driven culture is hard enough. Now we’re trying to change the mindset from competing to partnering,” said Kentaro Kawamori, vice president and chief digital officer for Chesapeake Energy.

Digital decision analysis is a break from doing things based on experience and intuition. Companies often manage information assuming that revealing data will be giving away valuable knowledge.

“Data sharing is important,” Kawamori added. “The context of what is around it is equally important. We should get to the point of sharing more data, but we are all looking for competitive advantage.”

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Data Is Not Scarce, but Oil Companies Hoard It as if It Were

Judy Feder, JPT Technology Editor, and Stephen Rassenfoss, JPT Emerging Technology Senior Editor

01 May 2019

Volume: 71 | Issue: 5

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