Cloud Data Storage for Oil and Gas Companies: A Complicated History

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Cloud Data Storage for Oil and Gas Companies: A Complicated History

Cloud Data Storage for Oil and Gas Companies

The energy industry can no longer afford to delay cloud adoption.

Oil and Gas technology has seen tremendous advancement over the past 20 years, which has resulted in accelerating increases in production and operational efficiency. But when it comes to digital technologies, the industry lags behind. Why?

The capital-intensive operations found in the upstream sector don’t lend well to the trial-and-error approach typically used with new digital technologies. With an unpredictable oil price, operators are wary of undertaking large-scale digital projects. They simply couldn’t afford to be early adopters in this space in the past; despite the massive benefits these technologies bring, like production optimization, the ability to make faster discoveries and even extract more value out of legacy assets.

The truly innovative oil and gas companies are now placing all their valuable data in the cloud and creating value in the process. But why the cloud, and why now?


Cloud data management is now at its prime for adoption in the oil industry. Since cloud data storage solutions and cloud computing have entered the mainstream, most operators realize that the value and benefits now far outweigh the risks.

Organizations embarking on their digital transformation need to look to cloud solutions for their data storage for two reasons. First, cloud solutions give faster, easier access to exploration data, yielding immediate benefits in terms of data accessibility.

Second, they can take advantage of up and coming digital technologies such as AI and big data analytics to further improve production. Even if these capabilities aren’t part of your company’s strategy today, your cloud architecture must be in place by the time they are.


With a cloud-based solution, geoscientists, asset managers and data managers can access well logs and subsurface data immediately; whenever and wherever they need it to make better, faster discoveries. Large sets of data from multiple vendors and locations are organized and can be retrieved in an instant on a variety of platforms.

Subsurface cloud storage solutions provide global access to stakeholders across the globe can access the same information and data simultaneously. Breaking down these geographical barriers not only saves time and increases efficiency, but begins to address the issue of data sovereignty, and safeguards data from geopolitical concerns.

Oil and gas players may be aware they’re missing out on important insights by not using the cloud but are likely unsure of where to start. Digital technology evolves rapidly, and with a multitude of vendors and products on the market, executives and data managers need to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each of the clouds before making a decision on how to proceed.

Enter hybrid clouds and multi-clouds.


Employing a hybrid cloud solution can help an organization transition to the cloud at their own pace. Some data is stored across one or more clouds and is connected with data stored on-premise.

Hybrid cloud management is popular in many upstream operations. One example includes remote locations. Drilling or production instruments may store data on-premise, and then when available, transmit the data to the cloud where it can be integrated with other data and analyzed. Operators may use several hybrid cloud providers to avoid vendor lock-in and leverage best-of-breed services (Forbes).

Along with hybrid cloud solutions, enterprises are more often employing a multi-cloud solution. The 2019 State of the Cloud survey (Flexera) revealed multi-cloud as the preferred cloud strategy among enterprises. Organizations with a cloud strategy use an average of five clouds, with a mix of public and private clouds. Cloud providers can work with you to determine the solution that will best fit your needs, as various areas of the business have different objectives.


In an uncertain oil and gas landscape, operators are returning to legacy assets to find more value and revitalize legacy oilfields. According to Reuters, oil producers typically extract half the oil in shale plays, with the remaining half too expensive to extract for a profit. But today, we have new technologies and better extraction methods, and energy companies are returning to old plays. Cloud data management might be the solution to uncover the gold mine you’ve been sitting on for years.

Another case for adopting a cloud data management system, and soon, is to make use of years of data that’s been collected and unused. In a Deloitte report, they identified that O&G companies have shifted toward “rightsizing” their existing resource portfolio and are ready to deploy additional investment to squeeze more from chosen assets. The investment will come in the form of digitizing equipment and applying digital transformation to E&P data of the past.

The Deloitte report stated that about 40 percent of global crude oil and natural gas production comes from fields that have been in operation for more than 25 years. In production operations, digitizing equipment means installing sensors on this decades-old equipment that can monitor operations both above and below the surface. Utilizing cloud computing to capture sensor data will enable automation and AI technologies that can increase production into the future. Moving legacy data onto a cloud network allows oil and gas companies to organize and analyze the troves of information that are dispersed among traditional media. Doing this brings better data access and data trust while helping to break down silos within the company.

Data scientists and asset managers can make new discoveries in old reservoirs to produce more, and even take advantage of current technologies that weren’t available when many of the assets began producing 20 or more years ago. A cloud solution marries old data with the new on one platform. The processing power of the cloud improves the usability of data and will reveal new areas of value creation.


Beyond production optimization, cloud environments for subsurface data bring other data transfer benefits. Oilfield operations are data-rich operations. Cloud networks can integrate the stream of information from field measurement tools, land contracts or even regulatory documents, further improve data transfer and access from the field to the home office.

More than ever, NOCs need to learn to do more with less (Ernst and Young). For some whose economies rely heavily on oil and gas revenue, the decline in oil prices has affected all parts of the government budget. Accelerating their digital transformation by way of cloud data storage and cloud computing can have outsized results for their countries and citizens. AI and machine-learning become possible with the computing capabilities of the cloud.

According to Ernst and Young, even a one percent gain in capital productivity could help offset the cumulative net loss of $35 billion reported in upstream, oilfield services and integrated companies worldwide in 2016.

Upstream operators have collaborated with oilfield service companies for years to design products and processes to achieve drilling gains and obtain operational efficiencies. They should consider joining forces on the digital front, as well. Hybrid cloud solutions and multi-cloud environments can provide the platform for these companies to work together, integrate their data and create value through more robust analyses.


These aren’t just digital buzzwords, but real technologies seeing everyday applications in many industries. The cloud provides the platform to make these technologies possible by affording the necessary computing power for advanced analysis. Data transmitted in real time from multiple pieces of equipment and multiple vendors can feed into predictive maintenance software.

Machine-learning and automation have applications across the upstream industry that can lead to percentage gains in production. In drilling and completion operations, sensors are able to pick up on pressure changes, geological changes and tool vibrations; then trigger automated processes to self-adjust minutes or hours before a human could receive and interpret the data.

These are just a few ways that oilfield companies are tapping into cloud storage networks. In the near future, big data analytics will be crucial in deepwater operations to optimize production and interpret subsurface data as we go farther and deeper. And as we go farther, and generate more data, a cloud network only becomes more crucial.

To get started, give Katalyst Data Management a call. We provide the only integrated, end-to-end data management and consulting services specifically designed to help companies take their digital transformation to the next level with cloud storage solutions.