In the past one year, the media buzzword is Big Data. Big Data is the deluge of data that arrives in 3 V’s – volume, variety and velocity. The widespread uses of smartphone, sensors and the internet have seen this phenomenon repeated in almost all industries.
The oil industry is none the exception, with exploration and production activities being key beneficiaries of the productivity from Big Data. Oil exploration and production has come a long way with use of new techniques like fracking and horizontal drilling, and new resources in the deep seas, shale and oil sands. Oil companies now use distributed sensors, real-time communications and data mining techniques to monitor and fine-tune these in-coming data. In Chevron’s case, this traffic alone exceeds 1.5 terabytes a day. The increase in efficiency from these data uses can make production economical in otherwise costly productions. In a recent talk by Pattern Discovery attended by the author, he learnt that the company data mining solutions have reduced production costs of tar sands in Alberta by an impressive $5/ bbl!
The coming revolution in Big Data for Big Oil however comes not in remote E&P activities but in something much closer to home – that of cars!
Back in 2012, Google launched its first driverless car. And in 2014, (yes that is a month away!), 3 car companies are expected to jump into the bandwagon as well – Volvo, BMW and Mercedes. One can ask what an internet search engine is doing with producing cars? These cars are no ordinary cars – with a variety of sensors, radars, cameras that makes it driver-less and autonomous. These autonomous cars interact with one another and with central controls like in geospatial Google maps – optimising routes, controlling traffic, avoiding accidents, computing fuel usage etc. Imagine this being multiplied for the thousands of cars in a grid city sending information real-time – the deluge of Big Data!
New engine technology has increased vehicle mileage efficiency and decreased American gasoline consumption over the past few years. The use of Big Data technology in ‘driving cars’ will be the next game changer. Already, this is happening as McLaren attributes the predictive SAP Hana as a key factor in it winning the F1 race amidst fast real-time data coming from its car sensors.
Fast forward to 2020 for the collision between Big Oil and Big Data.