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The oil and gas industry is not immune to digital transformation. Data training is the answer.

The average petroleum engineer’s skill set is quickly becoming outdated. Here’s how data science coupled with domain knowledge can keep their skills relevant.
Apr 2021  · 6 min read

Written by Prithvi Singh Chauhan and Hayden Fiege, GTX 2021 Planning Team

The petroleum industry is facing unprecedented challenges, from the commodity pricing collapse of 2020 to the growing concerns around the industry’s environmental performance, to the ongoing transition to low carbon intensity energy. Digital innovation, data science, and machine learning will help the industry overcome these difficult challenges. Meanwhile, the oil industry is looking for technologies to reduce its cost structure, exploring the automation of drilling rigs and using IoT (the Internet of Things) and data science tools to optimize results using historical data.

According to Business Wire, the AI market within the oil and gas industry was valued at 2 billion USD in 2019 and is expected to reach 3.81 billion USD by 2025. And a recent EY survey showed more than 92% of oil and gas companies are either currently investing in AI or plan to do so in the next two years, and 50% of oil and gas executives say they have already begun using AI to help solve problems

Why data skills are crucial for the future of petroleum engineering

The typical petroleum engineer’s technical skill set does not include programming, data engineering, data science, and machine learning. But these skills will only continue to gain importance as the use of more sophisticated data analytics becomes core to the oil and gas business. Many petroleum engineers are looking for opportunities to develop these skills. Some may be planning to use these new skills to pivot out of engineering into data-driven roles, while others are looking to use these new skills to transform the future of their practice within the energy industry.

Petroleum engineers have abundant opportunities to automate or streamline processes using data science and big data. Many applications in production, reservoir, drilling, completions, and geophysics will be improved by better insights through machine learning or data mining. Petroleum engineers don’t need to be experts in programming, but they do need to have a strong grasp of how to derive actionable insights from rich datasets.

As a member of Gen Z in the oil and gas industry and having faced two recent economic downturns, I need to consistently level up my skill set with core domain knowledge. A platform like DataCamp has given me courses and tracks to learn enough to understand the application in my domain. Understanding the wide range of use and efficiency of these tools has helped me to make better insights on data. Our generation is experiencing explosive growth in the production of oil and digital data. Data science and digital technologies will help create new opportunities, generate efficient workflows, and decrease per barrel cost of oil with time.

Prithvi Singh Chauhan, M.Sc. in Petroleum Engineering Student at Texas A&M University

How geothermal fits in with the oil and gas industry

Geothermal energy will be one of the key contributors in the shift to a sustainable low-carbon global energy future. Like oil and gas, geothermal is a data-rich area with a focus on subsurface. Opportunities exist to combine the two sectors through the repurposing of abandoned oil and gas wells for geothermal energy production, provided that the data is available to identify appropriate sites.

This is where the upcoming 2021 GEOTHERMAL Datathon (GTX 2021) presented by SPE Calgary, SPE Gulf Coast, and Untapped Energy comes into play.

GTX 2021 will connect those in the oil and gas industry looking to develop data competencies with data-driven problems. This datathon builds off the success of the 2020 DUC Datathon and will take place from April 20 to June 25, providing participants the opportunity to use real-world data to solve real-world problems, elevate data literacy, and make new professional connections.

As someone who has studied petroleum engineering and has worked in traditional engineering roles as well as a more data science-focused role, I see that both skill sets are complementary. Having a petroleum engineering background shapes the way I approach data science problems, and having data science skills has changed the way I approach engineering problems. I am confident that by providing oil and gas professionals with the tools and resources to develop data science skills, we are making a positive impact on the industry as a whole.

Hayden Fiege E.I.T., GTX 2021 Planning Team

Building data literacy with DataCamp

DataCamp is proud to sponsor the 2021 GTX Datathon and will be providing free subscriptions to all participants to learn in-demand open-source programming languages like Python and R. Along with DataCamp access, participants will take part in virtual bootcamps, which are instructor-led lessons on specific tools for data science in the field of petroleum engineering. Last year, DataCamp helped train 150 participants, and we expect to double that number this year.

The new generation of petroleum engineers not only needs to have core industry knowledge but domain-specific data manipulation skills. DataCamp allows beginners to learn Python programming and machine learning on their way to becoming fully skilled data scientists.

By using the DataCamp platform, I found that learning a new programming language has become simpler. Each topic has a detailed step-by-step guide, with practice through targeted questions, and case studies that helped to deepen my understanding. While learning Python, R, and SQL on DataCamp, I practiced using module imports and function calls and writing user-defined functions. It has greatly enhanced my ability to analyze, model, and interpret data.

Jingwen Huang, winner of the 2020 DUC Datathon DataCamp Learning Competition

The Geothermal Experience 2021 Datathon will take place from April 20 to June 25, 2021. Find out more here.



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