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Using big data to overcome subsurface challenges

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The oil and gas industry would particularly like to use big data to improve production and drilling, said Pranaya Sangvai, Cauvery Basin Business Unit Head with Reliance Industries

Reliance Industries' E&P venture is keenly studying Big Data Applicability, said Pranaya Sangvai, Cauvery Basin Business Unit Head at Reliance Industries, speaking at the Digital Energy Journal forum in Mumbai on February 4, "Doing More with E+P Data".

The intent is to find ways to optimise efficient drilling and enhance production."What would be very useful, right now, would be tools to help detect well problems before they become serious, from analysing the data," he said.

"Business success is based on the quality of decisions that we make,' he said.

'Huge data is gathered and acquired from exploration through appraisal to development of the discoveries. The proper integration and analysis of this data, with historical data, is of paramount importance to take crucial decisions of multimillion dollars to billions of dollars investments."

"We need to extract value from the growing volume of the data. If an organisation has no good strategy for big data, I think the company is going to be doomed."

The data which people really need to make decisions is often not available, he said. "When we look at data and want to take a decision, we generally find there's a gap," he said. "This gap either needs to be eradicated or really needs to be closed, that's what we feel today.'

Big data strategy

At a corporate level, Reliance Industries has already taken note of Big Data, he said.

Reliance is developing data road maps for its various business and functional frameworks.

The company also has a very strong IT support to its oil and gas division. The proper blend of IT and subsurface knowledge base is an advantage in reaping the benefits of Big Data.


In any industry, the biggest challenge with implementing new data systems are changing people's mind-set, he said.

In every industry, people at a senior level often feel that they don't need anyone to advise them, or need proper analysis of the data, since in the past they have been successful without it to a certain extent, he said. "Today, if you want to change that attitude, it becomes a little difficult, but I believe it's possible,' he said.

Getting new technology implemented in E&P is hard. "Most of the time there's a question mark, [people ask] has it really been used in other E+P companies. We are unsure about the technology or its benefits are yet to be proven. And so on."

Also, "we really lack the skills of big data," he said. "When we don't have a big data skillset, we try to avoid the change".

E&P people often look for return on investment (ROI) for implementing new technology.

Evaluating ROI can be as difficult and pointless as trying to calculate the ROI of buying chocolate for your child, he said. "If my son asks for a chocolate, I give it to him. It giving any ROI? I don't know," he said.

If we think IT can provide a benefit, and we can afford it, we could just implement it without trying to work out ROI, because of so much of uncertainty and crudeness involved in quantifying intangible benefits, he said.

Government restrictions

Legal restrictions about moving offshore seismic data outside the country can make life difficult. Getting permission to move data can take 3-6 months.

'For approval of the proposed e-transfer of seismic data, the operators in India are still struggling to satisfy procedural quorum of various agencies involved. We need to overcome the procedural difficulties,' he said.

Some people think seismic data 'is very crucial data," he said. But the "raw data doesn't give any information for anybody to use.'

There is a big gap of technological understanding between E&P operators and government authorities and lots of time is spent on education.

Sometimes, while doing so, technology changes, so we get approval on obsolete technology, he said.

'One such example is data storage. While we were discussing physical data storage (hardware), the emergence of cloud technology storage was seen more useful. But now we need to address how secure is cloud storage. Such things take toll on merit of the proposal,' he said.

Managing data

Managing data is a big challenge. "We have data at rest, data in motion, and data in many forms, structured, unstructured, text, and multimedia. Unstructured data is 80 per cent of overall data volume," he said.

At one particular time Reliance used to generate 1.4tb data from internal sources, and 1.1tb per day from external sources. Raw data was over 2 terabytes per rig per day. Most rigs have over 40,000 sensors or data sources. He believes full data utilization is possible only if Big Data is put in practice.

For real time data, it would be useful to have something like a centralised clearing house, he said.

Reliance is fortunate not to have large amounts of legacy data and therefore Big Data Adoption will be at much faster pace than other companies, he said.

Watch Mr Sangvai's talk on video and download slides at

Associated Companies
» Reliance Industries Ltd.


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