Tech 101 - Technology opportunities for the next 25 years.
“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” This wisdom from Niels Bohr (or was it Yogi Berra?) is worth pondering as we consider technical challenges and opportunities that will be important in the coming decades. Just a few years ago, who would have foreseen the sudden emergence of North American resource plays or the Macondo disaster in the US Gulf of Mexico (GOM) and its aftermath? We will look at areas where change is certain, such as automation and information technology, and others where game-changing advances might occur, such as the promise of nanotechnology. Which specific technologies will dominate the oil fields of the future remains unknown, but if past advancements are any guide, as Berra put it, “The future ain’t what it used to be.”
Henry Ford only saw handmade cars during his lifetime, yet surely he envisioned the automated assembly lines of today as a replacement for those of his time. This is the path the oil industry will travel in the next several decades. The aim will be to automate the different activities that require intensive human labor. The main drivers for widespread automation will be increasing efficiency (i.e., faster operations, with better control and lower cost), improving safety (minimizing exposure of the workforce to hazards), and assisting the pursuit of oil and gas in remote locations and hostile environments.