Can quality help the oil and gas industry rebound?
According to the Energy Information Administration, after more than four years of oil prices hovering around $100 a barrel, they plunged sharply in 2014 to approximately $40 a barrel. As you probably noticed, they have remained relatively low ever since. But will the oil and gas industry rebound?
This spring, the outlook brightened.
“Economic indicators point to a near-term uptick in the oil and gas business, after a long and painful downturn,” Stratas Advisors predicted. In a presentation to the 2017 Permian Basin Outlook Breakfast, John Paisie said the industry was “poised for a rebound.”
Paisie outlined several reasons why he expects a resurgence, but the industry’s dizzying pre-2014 highs still seem elusive. That’s where data quality can help speed things along.
In 2002, the oil data quality professionals recognized the necessity to establish an international sector quality standard similar to the one created for the automotive industry. The American Petroleum Industry’s Subcommittee on Quality proposed the development of such a standard. A draft technical specification was developed the following January and published in June 2003.
Subsequently, one standard, API Q1/ISO TS 29001, was accepted globally. Development of improvements to that standard continued, and in July 2010 the International Organization for Standardization reported that ISO/TS 299001:2010 was winning increasing acceptance by the oil and gas industry.
Why did quality become important?
As oil and gas have become increasingly difficult to extract, a quality management system eliminates errors, enhancing profit margins. Further, oil and gas contribute to thousands of products, many of which have stringent quality standards of their own.
Natural Gas Liquids are separated from the vapor phase of natural gas. In addition to fuels, the manufacture of plastics, antifreeze, detergent, and rubber all employ NGLs. Many quality standards apply to these industries.
Gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel, meanwhile, combine to account for 72 percent of petroleum consumption. In the refining process, there is very little latitude for variations in these products. Quality plays an essential role in both their safety and marketability.
Consider the many other products for which petroleum is a primary or principal component. Among them are:
Petroleum products constitute up to 80 percent of the ingredients of cosmetics, an industry tightly regulated by the FDA. Highest quality standards are imperative to promote sales into this sector.
Another large market is over-the counter medications, many of which are derived from benzene, a petrochemical product. Like cosmetics, they are subject to FDA regulations.
Almost every major roadway you travel is paved with asphalt, also derived from petroleum. To minimize accidents, degradation, and damage to vehicles, here again, quality standards are essential.
More than in any other sector, quality is vital in sales to the food industry. From the pesticides used to grow the food, to flavorings, preservatives, and colors integrated into food itself, to the plastics used for packaging, you will find petroleum products present at every step. Each one of these components must meet the quality standards acceptable to both government and consumers.
Quality and progress
Data quality and management will speed oil and gas recoveries. Whether for increased safety and efficiency in the downstream market of drilling and exploration, more effective midstream production of gas and oil, or precision downstream refining and distribution of products, quality is a bulwark of growth.
Thankfully, quality has evolved from thick binders and file cabinets. Modern software available to oil and gas producers from IQS provides a powerful tool to propel that recovery forward.