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Entrepreneurs, executives and environmentalists are starting to take notice of major shifts across several business sectors, including in oil and gas. Why? Because these industries are adopting new technologies to solve old problems.

oil and gasOver the last ten years, there are increasing examples of where heavy industry has begun to embrace digital solutions, and the oil and gas industry is no exception. As millennials take over management roles, the standard for technology is higher and there’s a greater need for more efficient systems for marine installations and offshore platforms.

In particular, companies are looking for offshore tools that can help them achieve their goals and so look to innovation to remain financially strong. In order for multinational companies like ExxonMobil and BP to stay relevant, they’re going to have to continue to revamp their operations and invest in new technology.

Artificial intelligence

The biggest players in the oil and gas industries have begun exploring opportunities to use AI to predict inefficiencies in operations and streamline processes. Such technologies are helping companies become greener and more efficient.

But, ExxonMobil has taken it a step further by collaborating with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to develop self-learning, submersible robots for ocean exploration. Through this technology, they hope to monitor, map and analyze changes in the deepest regions of the ocean.

In speaking to CNBC, Microsoft’s oil and gas director for the Middle East and Africa said, “Artificial intelligence (AI) is set to have the biggest technological impact on the oil and gas industry over the coming years”. He – like many others – believes that these industries need to capitalise on these tools in order to avoid being left behind in the digital revolution.

Robotics

Oil and gas companies may have been slow to adopt automation technologies, it’s proving helpful in increasing productivity, reducing costs, and protecting the safety of workers. The most well-known robot currently being used is the Iron Roughneck, made by National Oilwell Varco Inc. It works to connect drill pipes through miles of ocean water. But, the list of applications for these robots is growing. Remote-controlled aerial drones are surveying the landscape around oil and gas rigs, automated underwater vehicles are exploring the oceans, and robotic drills are helping to make the workplace safer for everyone.

Cloud computing

While you might not think of data storage as a technology, it’s a powerful engine in the transformation of the gas and oil industries. Companies are able to harness and analyze massive amounts of data that allow them to adjust operations, reduce cost and mitigate risk. This big data can be used to more accurately pinpoint drilling sites and to improve the control & monitoring of subsequent activity.

With technology, the oil and gas industries have unlimited potential, with the cloud giving a new competitive edge and the ability to quickly and efficiently process information to develop new ideas and innovations. As we continue to see developments in AI, robotics and computing, alongside the initiatives to protect marine life, we’ll see more efficient, safe, and environmentally-friendly production.