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Can data analytics prevent the next offshore oil spill?

Data analytics may help prevent — or at least provide alerts to — another BP-style oil spill at an offshore oil platform. That’s the view put forth by IDC’s Jill Feblowitz, who surfaced remarks by Michael Bromwich, director with the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, proposing that federal regulators have access to real-time data from offshore rigs.

BP Deepwater Horizon: Would more real-time data have helped?

BP Deepwater Horizon: Would more real-time data have helped?

This could help provide a better picture of what’s happening with remote drilling operations, and perhaps stave off disasters before they happen. Sounds like a great idea, but Feblowitz raises two issues:

  • Finding people with analytic skills:Oil companies are having enough trouble finding these skills; federal agencies would also be competing for such talent.

  • Applying the “right” analytics to the right data: BP’s ill-fated Deepwater Horizon rig was streaming real-time data about increases in drill pipe pressure before things blew. “Collecting real-time data is not analogous with being able to do effective monitoring, but requires the right analytics, traceability of real-time data sources, and recommended actions.”

Feblowitz notes that Shell Oil is already working with real-time analytics to aid in geology and geophysics. “Whether or not real-time data is streamed to regulators, oil companies would be wise to consider analytics applied to real-time data collection for drilling, completions and production operations.”


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