ONGC to tap big data to raise output, optimise cost

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NEW DELHI: Oil & Natural Gas Corp is betting on Big Data to prepare for a future of low prices and hard to extract oil, on the lines of some global oil majors which have been using the power of advanced data analysis over the last few years and benefitting from it.

Explorers like ONGC deal with tons of data. The rise in advanced computer analysis over the years has prompted it to work on bringing all internal data on one platform to help its operations. “Exploration and production is now moving into challenging areas.

You can’t lose time in decision making. Having all data and information available at the click of a button would help make quick and optimal decisions,” said Ajay Kumar Dwivedi, director-exploration at ONGC. Globally, reserves have been dwindling, raising the cost of production for firms that must explore deep sea and other difficult terrains for oil and gas, especially at a time oil prices are low and expected to stay so for a long time.

This requires companies to strive for major leap in efficiency, and big data analytics is helping majors like Shell as well as smaller shale oil producers do just that. Companies are pooling data from across their units, figuring out their interconnection, building predictive models and programmes that help better plan, design processes, and ultimately induce productivity.

“This is not just about cost optimisation, which many people have been talking about.
This is also about creating new knowledge using the in-house domain expertise,

” Dwivedi said, adding that the new knowledge can have significantly bigger impact on the way the company operates. ONGC would engage data scientists from IITs and IT firms to put in place over the next few months the big data platform that would contain all exploration and production information including geological, seismic, welllog, drilling and output figures, he said.

“The problem in drilling or production we face today is not always new. There are chances of us having encountered a similar problem in a different field or a basin in the past. So if we have a ready reference to how we solved the problem then can help us move quickly now,” said Dwivedi. The big data initiative would also shorten the learning curve for younger employees, he said.

Integrating big data in the company’s operations could enhance efficiency and image of ONGC which, like many other state firms in India, has been criticised for inefficiency and suboptimal decision-making in the past. Many oil services providers as well as tech firms are working with several oil firms on applying big data analytics for higher productivity.