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Fri 1 Jun 2007 12:00 AM

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The pace of progress

Is the oil and gas industry keeping up with technology? But while technology always seems to be advancing and while it may even be deployed, indications are it isn't always fully used.

Technology development has a key role to play in the oil and gas industry. But while technology always seems to be advancing and while it may even be deployed, indications are it isn't always fully used.

This has proved to be the case for those involved in introducing the benefits of predictive maintenance. Although the physical components of the technology are widely in place, the willingness and ability to make use of all its benefits are not. Progress is being made on that front, and suppliers are optimistic about the future, but there is some way to go before usage is comprehensive.

Wireless technology is occupying similar ground. Again, this is emerging stuff. Although the technological capacity has been developed and there is equipment in place, the benefits of its use are waiting to be fully understood. Speaking at the sidelines of an oil conference recently, Leif Eriksen, director of the energy and utilities industry solutions group at Symbol Technologies, said: "Having wireless and having it widely used are two different things ... At this point there is still a lot of room for growth. I would say that five years from now, wireless technology will be widely deployed in the oil and gas industry in all sorts of forms."

Technology investment is a significant issue too. Halliburton has been waving a positive publicity flag in the region, since announcing the move of its corporate HQ to Dubai. Come July the company will open a technology centre in India, feeding both its fluid-testing capacity and the need for technology to help get the ‘hard' oil out of the ground.

Recovery of these trickier reserves was on the agenda at last month's SOGAT conference. There, discussions on new and emerging technology, aimed at improving recovery and economic return, attracted positive attention. Conference organiser, Nick Coles, was pleased with both the result and the response of ADNOC to the event.

"ADNOC felt that discussions at SOGAT and the International CO2 Forum helped greatly in better understanding issues that will need to be resolved before sour gas reserves can be fully exploited," he said.

All this shows that technological development in the industry is moving in the right direction. It's up to oil companies and their contractors to make sure their people keep up.

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