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Historically, the largest operators have made the investment to find, develop and produce greenfield properties. As oil and gas fields age, they are often passed to smaller firms with lower overhead that continue to exploit them until the last drops of petroleum have been wrung, and the economics dictate subsequent plug and abandonment. This basic business structure has been in place since Titusville, and so it always will be – or will it?
Nimble players will prosper and new actors will emerge, while others will join the vanished members of the Oil & Gas 500 of 20 years ago. Similar to most other industries that are embracing Six Sigma (see Definition box) practices, the digital oil field is becoming less oil and more digital. Timely and accurate information is more important to shareholder value than simple physical assets, because only this type of information can optimize geological and hardware performance.
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