Innovations in Software to Assist Oil & Gas Companies

James Wyatt

The task of pumping oil out of the depths of the earth and into gas stations is a dangerous job. In fact, oil well drilling is one of the most dangerous jobs in the entire mining industry.

Oil rig accidents accounted for 138 of the published 177 mining industry fatalities in 2012, according to statistics published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. With so many risks to the men and women who work on wells and rigs, oil companies are seeking safer automated software solutions for the many tasks, as well as refining the software used to locate leases of oil.

oil rig

Photo by Flickr user SMelindo

Locating Platforms

Simply locating which underwater leases contain petrochemicals and which contain only saltwater is a high stakes process that can cost a company a fortune if mishandled. The software used by oil and gas industry geophysicists has developed into robust engines that use algorithms to sort and coalesce the vast geological and seismic data in milliseconds. These workstations are designed with the fastest storage options, up to 512GB of RAM and dozens of processing cores capable of processing more information much quicker than any home PC.

Leading exploration industry software companies such as Paradigm have partnered with the Lenovo team to certify the new Lenovo ThinkStation platform for use as these workstations. The testing and certification process, according to Lenovo's consumer blog, is an opportunity for Lenovo, and its project partners to tweak and shape the platform configurations to provide the maximum performance available for such power software needs.


Drilling Software

Drill rigs require automation software that can do the job of many people running separate rig subsystems. The creation of such software requires programmers capture the combined knowledge of many different industry professionals as well as engineers and drillers.

Automation Advisor of Apache Corporation, Jim Rogers, made a case at the 2013 Oil & Gas Conference for the development of automated drilling software that runs modeling and analytic software together as the best option for better efficiency, according to Such software would combine control and modeling to produce better results and reduce overall risk.

Other Software

There are many tasks, both simple and complicated, that subcontractors are developing for the oil and gas industry. While some jobs are more dangerous, such as those involved in the drilling process, companies need safer solutions for other tasks as well. For example, putting pipe into the ground once oil is found can be a dangerous task performed in risky conditions.

Rangeland Energy Services has developed automated catwalks and software that use radio and innovative engineers to decrease the need for pipes to be handled manually during the process. Information and communications standards have evolved as well, and standardized data models have emerged in the industry.

Once such model is the WITSML, or Wellsite Information Transfer Standard Markup Language, that standardizes the communication of downhole drill information to operators. As the industry modernizes, software solutions are emerging to reduce much of the risk involved with drilling, as well as create better efficiency across the oil and gas industry.


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