AR tech can disrupt Oil & Gas industry within years: GlobalData

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Oil and Gas Company
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According to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company, even as the adoption of augmented reality (AR) in the oil and gas industry is in its nascent stage, this emerging technology has the potential to disrupt conventional operational functions in the sector within the next five years. 

The analytics firm said that the global AR market which was worth about $4 billion in 2018, is estimated to hit $76 billion by 2030, rising at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24 percent.

GlobalData reported in its latest thematic report “Augmented Reality in Oil and Gas”, that early adopters of the technology have seen use cases within the energy sector in inspection and maintenance, tracking applications, employee training and on-field worker protection.

There are major advances in AR technology in both the hardware and software space, and this is reflected in the increasing number of use cases, the report remarks.

Ravindra Puranik, Oil and Gas Analyst at GlobalData said that “The growing use of wearable devices, smartphones and tablets in the oil and gas industry is making it conducive for the adoption of AR applications in the industry.”

“Combining AR with technologies such as the internet of things (IoT), big data and artificial intelligence (AI) will help in the creation of more holistic solutions for oil and gas applications, including real-time detection and repair of equipment breakdown,” he further added.

Microsoft HoloLens
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According to him, oil and gas companies are partnering with technology companies such as Microsoft and Google to develop AR solutions unique to the industry.

These tech start-ups are also working to create customized AR solutions for the particular requirements of oil and gas (O&G) companies.

Chevron, the leading oil and gas company, equipped its field technicians with Microsoft’s HoloLens for routine maintenance tasks.

Mr. Puranik explained that these HoloLens enable the technicians to receive remote technical assistance while performing difficult tasks, thereby improving performance.

With HoloLens, Chevron carried out multiple trails and is now expected to increase the deployment of these kits at its operations worldwide.

He added that this could encourage other operators to follow suit and thus increase the penetration of AR technology in O&G in the near future.

Mr. Puranik said: “AR startups, such as Fieldbit has developed solutions for aiding oil and gas operations by delivering real-time information to field technicians. BP successfully tested these solutions in 2017 and then went for mass adoption in its US operations.”

“AR can be used to facilitate field technicians to maintain a digital checklist of regular tasks, offering notifications and reminders on pending tasks,” he noted.

The ability to provide remote technical assistance through AR devices helps businesses save transport costs and reduce delays in coping with the breakdown of equipment, as per Mr. Puranik.

“It speeds up maintenance activities while also safeguarding personnel by preventing them from making technical errors,” he noted.

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GlobalData’s thematic research identifies Baker Hughes, BP, Chevron, Equinor, ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Saudi Arabian Oil Company and Schlumberger, among the leaders in the AR theme in the energy sector.

It also highlights some of the AR technology providers for the O&G industry, namely Amazon, Facebook, Fieldbit, Google, Magic Leap, Microsoft and Unity.

Rupantar Guha, a thematic analyst at GlobalData said, “Enterprises are starting to recognize the benefits of AR in training, remote assistance, maintenance and repair, and customer support.”

“COVID-19 is fueling the adoption of AR devices such as smart glasses across several industrial applications, and it will continue in the coming years. Despite this, GlobalData believes large-scale enterprise adoption of AR is still some way away,” explained Mr. Guha.

“The technology’s high cost and relative immaturity, combined with significant privacy concerns, will prevent widespread enterprise adoption of AR for at least the next three years. Large enterprises will be the prime adopters of AR during this period, while small and medium-sized businesses across all industries will wait to see evidence of long-term benefits before investing,” he further added