Robotic process automation for oil and gas professionals

There's scope for oil and gas companies to automate several of their routine tasks, freeing up executives to add more value to the business.
31 August 2018

Oil and gas offers a lot of scope for automation. Source: Shutterstock

Robotic process automation (RPA) is the use of simple, script-based bots to perform repetitive tasks. It’s the ultimate tool to help executives free up their valuable time and better prioritize high-value tasks.

In the oil and gas industry, there are several things that field operators and business executives do on a regular basis that can be automated.

In fact, with profitability suffering over the past few years, raising efficiency and productivity has become a priority for firms in the industry. RPA offers the most cost-effective solution.

According to experts, RPA has benefits across all types of oil and gas businesses.

In upstream oil and gas businesses, RPA helps with data analytics and reporting for exploration and production.

In midstream entities, it helps automate operations such as supply chain management, trading functions, logistics, and safety.

In downstream businesses, RPA is facilitates pricing, monitoring, and reporting automation.

Overall, for most oil and gas businesses, here are some of the most common areas where RPA can make an immediate impact:

# 1 | Joint venture accounting

Joint ventures are very important to oil and gas companies, given the various geographies they operate in and the value (and shareholding pattern) of each company.

As a result of the complexities, effective management of joint venture accounting activities is a major challenge.

Moreover, the variances in accounting principles involved in different regions and applicable to the different entities in the joint venture make thing even more challenging.

Fortunately, although complex for the human mind, the tasks are quite repetitive if a certain method is followed. As a result, RPA can be significantly useful to oil and gas professionals in this field.

# 2 | Lease record management

Companies like Exxon Mobil, Chevron, and Total have leases worth billions of dollars. However, the fact that several of their operations are run in collaboration with foreign governments and partners, makes the lease record management quite a task.

Using RPA, oil and gas companies can not only automate the payment required for the leases but also generate reports on different leases across geographies, metrics around profitability, and project future trends to help management make better choices.

In lease record management, experts believe RPA can actually make a significant difference to the productivity of executives, allowing them to add more value to their daily work than previously possible.

# 3 | Revenue and JIB netting

The oil and gas industry is quite unique. The oil fields are owned by one party (usually a government) and exploration costs are either borne by a joint venture between domestic and foreign players or paid for basis an agreement or contract. As a result, revenues are also split — sometimes proportionately, sometimes not.

A unique method of managing the income and expenses in the industry is known as joint interest billion (JIB) which divides the revenues and expenses from an oil project among its partners according to their standing agreement.

Since JIB netting is a ‘standardized process’, it’s easy for RPA to take over the task, allowing executives to spend their time reviewing and managing the overall operation better.