How can Big Data help the Middle Eastern oil and gas industry

4111With the on-going buzz about Big Data making the leap from technology magazines and advertising to mainstream industries, leading executives cannot help but see its business value. At the forefront of many businesses jumping on the Big Data bandwagon is the region’s oil and gas industry, where organisations need to constantly apply new technologies to capture and transform raw data into actionable insights.

Better site models, more effective drilling strategies, improved reservoir performances and reduced production interruptions caused by equipment malfunction are among the benefits that technology offers.

Analytic data platform Teradata Corp hosted the fourth Teradata Universe Conference in Dubai, which took place last week (from February 10 to 12), and discussed how leading analytics-driven oil and gas organisations are making real-time decisions that help them outperform their competitors.

It also shared a recent study by IDC, which was published in October 2013, which reveals that Big Data and analytics are drawing investments in the Middle East region.  Most of these have been focused on business intelligence (BI), with 35 per cent of Middle Eastern chief information officers having invested in BI last year and 41 per cent expected to do so in 2014. On the analytics front, only 11 per cent invested in 2012, but, for 2013, it grew to 42 per cent. It’s for this reason that Teradata is investing heavily in the region, says Eric Joulié, vice-president for Southern Europe, Middle East and Africa at Teradata Corporation. “The Middle East region is witnessing an exciting evolution, as organisations continue to adopt mobile and social technologies, thereby creating a surge in both structured and unstructured data,” adds Joulié.

“Up until 18 months ago, Big Data adoption in Dubai was only based on companies,” says Stephen Brobst, chief technology officer at Teradata Corporation. “We then started seeing more adoption from traditional enterprises. Oil and gas come from a different angle in the region, because of its importance. It has had Big Data for a long time. It’s a matter of modernising the tools and moving out of a model in which data is trapped inside a propriety application into a model in which data can be used in more leveraged way.”

He further explains that Abu Dhabi is more advanced in adopting Big Data than Dubai, when it comes to traditional industries. However, they face many challenges when dealing with Big Data, with collecting and storing large data sets on the top of the list.

“The oil and gas industry’s need to better understand subsurface has driven companies to collect more data and more types of data quickly and at higher frequencies,” says Joulié. He further adds that advances in instrumentation, process automation and collaboration are increasing data volumes even faster. This is where data analytic firms can come in to help disseminate information and identify added value.

“The typical approach is not to focus on technology, but on the value proposition that can be created,” says Brobst. “Generally, we will get most of our oil and gas clients to share information to create more synergy. We can also create business and information discovery; we can produce business impact models and we have industry consultants [to get help from regarding] where to extract the value from.”

The adoption of Big Data is slowly – but surely – on the rise globally, as well as in the Middle East region, according to Hermann Wimmer, president of the international region at Teradata Corporation. “I see more interesting customers in the region, and it’s mostly driven by the management and how eager it is to utilise Big Data,” he says. “Our Big Data business recorded a three-digit profit [globally] in Q4 2013.”

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