AWS Oil & Gas Day - Cloud Innovation in O&G

By Mark Sen Gupta

Industry Trends

On September 20th, I had the opportunity to attend Amazon Web Services’ Oil and Gas day in Houston  focusing on utilization of its cloud services in oil and gas.  There were about 500 in attendance and an overflow room was required.

AWS Presents Cloud Benefits

Mr. Van Den Haak, Global BD for Oil and Gas, presented in the keynote.  He highlighted the following:

  • Business needs agility
  • Top benefits listed wereAmazon Web Services Logo  Cloud
    • Find it faster
    • Recover more
    • Reduce cost
    • Reduce risk
    • Increase Compliance
  • AWS usage is growing exponentially
  • AWS is focusing on making it easy.  It offers an experience-based training workshop to jumpstart projects.
  • Employs a ‘reverse’ innovation model:
    • Start with the customer need(s)
    • Write the press release, write up the FAQs
    • Create a user manual
    • Develop the product.
  • For disconnected assets, AWS offers a ‘snowball’ which is basically a sophisticated data logger.
  • Believes Cloud is the new normal.

Well Pump Management

Ambyint’s Ryan Benoit, CTO, presented on its cloud-based predictive maintenance application for well pumps.  Discussed the issue with legacy equipment (protocols/security).  He made the statement of SCADA being expensive. During the presentation, an interesting 80/20 Rule application was made with regards to the amount of processing that needed to occur in the field; 20 percent of analytic processing needed to occur in the field usually because of the required response time.

Collaborative Data

Shell Exploration’s Francesco Menapace, Exploration Digitalization Opportunity Manager, presented on its upcoming Data Lake approach called “Shell Data Universe.”  It has taken 8 months from beginning to implementation; most of that time went into specifying what was needed, studying workflows and data flows, etc.  He made a point of stating that workflows hadn’t changed over the past 30 years, but technology had. In the process of this effort, the team recognized that the goal should be bigger than Shell alone and should incorporate the ability to collaborate with peers. He also stated that there is only so much your existing team can do and it is necessary to leverage technology.  In Shell’s case, this included use machine learning(ML) to perform activities like quality control and cataloging of data.

The Potential of "What If"

Optika Solutions’ Matt Schneider, Founder and CEO, presented on utilizing neural linguistic programing (NLP) – think Siri or Alexa - and creating prescriptive analytics by using ML to create models, verify models, and run “what if” scenarios. He presented a fascinating example pulling information about power usage in Japan, oil and LNG ships en route, predictive power usage and using this information for planning purposes. He used the phrase “the power of ‘what if?’”  Interesting quote: “Knowing today's answers is not good enough. You need insight into tomorrow.”  


Amazon is working hard for mind space, especially in the manufacturing realm where Microsoft seems to have a head start.  I was surprised to meet a couple of attendees who didn’t realize Amazon did more than ‘deliver packages.’ This event was a nice showcase into the world of what is possible with, not only AWS, but cloud in general. A key theme throughout was the ability to scale up quickly, as well as to fail and learn quickly, both of which ARC has been discussing for a few years now.

It is quite apparent that some businesses are moving beyond experiments and moving quickly toward full-scale implementation of cloud technologies.  Given the speed at which technology progresses, laggards will be hard pressed to catch up. As some presenters noted, however, the biggest hurdle isn’t the technology, it’s the people.

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