Oil & Gas Trends for 2023: Cybersecurity, AR/VR, Inspection and 3D Printing

What are the oil and gas trends for 2023? From cybersecurity to inspection, AR/VR and 3D printing, explore 4 topics that will impact the sector in 2023 and the years to come.

Daniel Allen, Adam Turner and Camille Rustici contributed to this article.

01/ Cybersecurity

Like many industries, the oil sector is not immune to cyber-attacks and in particular to ransomware and attacks on the supply chain. But unlike other plants, oil and gas facilities are what we call critical infrastructures. Attacks against them, therefore, have by definition critical consequences. This means good protection of the installations is required.

According to Edgardo Moreno, industry consultant in charge of cybersecurity at Hexagon:

“There are obviously several attacks happening in the oil and gas sector, the most notorious being ransomware. One of the most famous ransomware attacks in the oil and gas industry was the Colonial Pipeline attack in 2021. The oil and gas industry is part of what we call critical infrastructure. Critical infrastructure is essential for the functioning of our society and for the economy of our countries. This Colonial Pipeline provides nearly half of the gasoline and fuel for the East Coast of the USA. So the impact of such attacks are enormous and can really block our societies.”

Solutions exist to help oil and gas companies better protect their systems through preventive measures such as making an inventory of your most critical assets. But you also need to have a good recovery plan, for after you’ve been attacked.

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02/ Satellite-based Inspection

Today, satellite-based technology is taking the monitoring of industrial infrastructure to the next level. DirectIndustry caught up with Michael Hall, a senior specialist at Airbus Defense and Spaceto discuss remote sensing for energy infrastructure.

According to Mr. Hall,

“Inspection of oil and gas infrastructure is necessary to identify issues that may affect infrastructure integrity before damage or harm occurs to equipment, personnel, or the environment. Such infrastructure includes refineries, well pads, pipelines, and other facilities.

Satellite-based methods can make a number of key contributions, particularly in terms of assessing pipelines and facility monitoring. New images can be acquired at specified intervals, allowing frequent and up-to-date assessment. The fact that images are collected in real-time – over a period of time – not only means a true picture of the situation on the ground is provided but enables long-term trends to be assessed. Locations can be inspected that are geographically extensive, that are challenging to access on the ground, or where ground-based methods need to be supplemented.”

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03/ Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

From visualizing blueprints and construction schedules to training maintenance and emergency response crews, virtual and augmented reality are helping oil & gas giants to prepare their people for what awaits them in the real world.

AR is already a proven technology with a strong business case for oil & gas companies. Augmented reality allows businesses to more easily train their specialists to work on a wider range of equipment, without the expense and potential danger of regularly traveling to remote locations via helicopter or off-road vehicle.

According to Mohamed Elnakib, Information Solutions Sales Executive at Rockwell Automation:

“Transportation is one of the main safety hazards in the oil & gas industry, so anything that reduces the need to travel can improve safety, reduce costs and reduce your carbon footprint. Broadening your people’s skillsets means that, when you do need someone onsite, you’re more likely to have a qualified specialist in the region – ensuring they get there quickly, to reduce equipment downtime.”

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04/ 3D Printing

GlobalData’s thematic report, ‘3D Printing in Oil & Gas’, states that 3D printing has emerged as one of the key enabling technologies in driving industrial productivity. Over the years, 3D printing technology has become prominent in different industries and has significantly influenced automotive and aerospace manufacturing. In the oil and gas sector, some of the technology’s applications include manufacturing spare parts on-site, testing new product designs, and simplifying inventory management to save costs.

According to Ravindra Puranik, Oil & Gas Analyst at GlobalData:

“The oil and gas industry has shown slow but steady adoption of 3D printing in recent years. Initially, this technology was largely limited to polymer-based products. However, recent advancements in metal-based 3D printing are making this technology more relevant to the oil and gas industry.”

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