I had the opportunity to participate in Drillinginfo’s 2018 Energy Disruptors Summit last week in Lake Tahoe. This event, which focused on many of the critical issues facing today’s US energy markets, was designed not as a conference, but more of an information sharing opportunity among the invited executives from about 50 different companies. I had the honor of serving as the discussion leader for a couple of sessions covering blockchain; and in between those, I was able to sit-in on a few of the other compelling topics, including the changing fundamentals of US oil and gas production, the impact of renewable energy sources on hydrocarbon resources, oil market disruption caused by rapidly changing technology, and the potential influence of AI and machine learning in the exploration and production space. The sessions were conducted in a roundtable forum in which all attendees participated in the discussion and contributed their thoughts.
I don’t want to jump the gun on whatever Drillinginfo might want to share about the discussions, but I will say its difficult for someone whose not involved in the day-to-day operational side of the business to fully appreciate the challenges the upstream energy markets face. The pace of change in that segment is nothing short of startling – with global market influences, regulation and breakneck technology advances impacting virtually all operations, including seismic, drilling, completion, production, midstream ops and marketing. While these changes can be immensely challenging to keep up with, those that have successfully adopted, and embraced new technology advances have found tremendous success and are largely responsible for creating a very real energy renaissance in the US.
Regarding blockchain, the conversations I had with the participants in the two sessions I led indicate that its still very soon in the adoption cycle for that particular technology. As we’ve stated before, there is a lot of attention being paid to blockchain in virtually every market; however, in energy, there are few compelling use cases to date outside those in energy trading where advanced trials are occurring and a few early stage in-production systems have been deployed. However, in the upstream markets, the technology seems to be still a bit of a hammer looking for a nail.
That said, as soon as I got back into the office this week I saw an announcement that Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc is launching what they call a Blockchain Drilling™ Service. The service was developed with Houston-based Data Gumbo and “provides an immutable platform for the optimization of well construction activities, including drilling related services, materiel and the supply chain, both shore-based and offshore.” So, perhaps we are at the cusp of seeing blockchain make its way into the upstream markets…
Drillinginfo’s 2018 Energy Disruptors Summit was a great success and I’m pleased and honored to have been invited to participate. The event was as well produced as any I’ve attended – in a beautiful facility in an amazing location – and at the end of two and half days of enjoyable and valuable conversation and learning, everyone I talked with walked away with a much greater appreciation of the challenges, but more importantly, the opportunities that continue to emerge in energy industry.