While the adoption of augmented reality (AR) in the oil and gas industry is still in the introductory phase, this evolving technology has the potential to disrupt the traditional operational functions in the sector over the next three to five years, according to GlobalData.
Worth nearly $4 billion in 2018, the global AR market is forecast to reach $76 billion by 2030, growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24 per cent, according to GlobalData.
Early adopters of the technology have discovered uses in inspection and maintenance, monitoring applications, employee training and on-field worker safety.
GlobalData’s latest thematic report, Augmented Reality in Oil and Gas, highlights that there are notable improvements in both the hardware and software space within AR technology, and this is reflected in the growing number of use cases.
Oil and Gas Analyst at GlobalData, Ravindra Puranik, said the growing use of wearable devices, smartphones and tablets in the oil and gas industry is making it conducive for the adoption of AR applications in the sector.
“Combining AR with technologies such as the internet of things, big data and artificial intelligence will help in the creation of more holistic solutions for oil and gas applications, including real-time detection and repair of equipment breakdown.”
Chevron has equipped its field technicians with a technology which enables the technicians to receive remote technical assistance while performing challenging tasks, thereby improving efficiency.
After conducting several trials, Chevron is now set to increase the deployment of the technology at its operations worldwide. This could encourage other operators to follow suit and thus increase the penetration of AR technology in the industry in the near future, notes GlobalData.
Already, oil and gas companies are collaborating with tech companies to develop industry-specific AR solutions. Tech start-ups are also joining in the effort to develop customised AR solutions for the specific needs of the industry.
“AR start-ups have developed solutions for aiding oil and gas operations by delivering real-time information to field technicians,” Puranik said.
“BP successfully tested these solutions in 2017 and then went for mass adoption in its US operations.”
AR can be used to facilitate field technicians to maintain a digital checklist of regular tasks, offering notifications and reminders on pending tasks.
“The ability to deliver remote technical assistance via AR devices is helping companies save transportation costs and eliminate delays in attending to equipment breakdown,” detailed Puranik.
“It speeds up maintenance activities while also safeguarding personnel by preventing them from making technical errors.”
GlobalData’s research identifies Baker Hughes, BP, Chevron, Equinor, ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Saudi Arabian Oil Co, and Schlumberger, among the leaders in the AR theme in the oil and gas industry.
Thematic Analyst at GlobalData, Rupantar Guha, commented that enterprises are starting to recognise the benefits of AR in training, remote assistance, maintenance, and repair, and customer support.
“COVID-19 is fuelling the adoption of AR devices, such as smart glasses, across several industrial applications, and it will continue in the coming years. Despite this, GlobalData believes large-scale enterprise adoption of AR is still some way away.”
The technology’s high cost and relative immaturity, combined with significant privacy concerns, is expected to prevent widespread enterprise adoption of AR for at least the next three years.
“Large enterprises will be the prime adopters of AR during this period, while small and medium-sized businesses across all industries will wait to see evidence of long-term benefits before investing,” Guha concluded.