Big Data in Big Oil: How Shell Uses Analytics To Drive Business Success

In a previous blog I mentioned how the big majors were embracing Big Data and IIoT in order to drive out costs, increase production and employee productivity and improve collaboration.  ARC believes that upstream oil & gas companies not only need to invest in automation and technologies that will benefit their operational performance but also need to begin changing the legacy culture that so often resists embracing new technologies, deploying new work processes, and stifles innovation.

Shell provides one example of how a major oil & gas company that leverages fiber optic technology and Big Data analytics to ensure its equipment is working properly and spending as little time as possible offline due to breakdowns and failure.  Machinery used in drilling has to operate in harsh conditions for prolonged periods of time so is prone to wear and damage.  To counteract this, the equipment is fitted with sensors collecting data about its performance and comparing it with aggregated data, meaning parts can be replaced in an efficient manner and downtime minimized, further reducing overheads.

As well as exploration and production, Big Data is being put to use to streamline the transport, refinement and distribution (retail) of oil and gas.  Shell is vertically integrated, and therefore involved in every aspect of the process through to packaging and selling it to the consumer as fuel for their car for heating their home.  Refineries have limited capacity, and fuel needs to be produced as close as possible to its point of end use to minimize transportation costs.  Complex algorithms take into account the cost of producing the fuel as well as diverse data such as economic indicators and weather patterns to determine demand, allocate resources and set prices at the pumps.

It seems that more companies are beginning to become aware of the benefits that Big Data, analytics and IIoT can bring to bear.  A recent survey by Accenture and Microsoft of oil companies and those involved in the support industries found that 86 percent to 90 percent of respondents said that increasing their analytical, mobile and Internet of Things capabilities would increase the value of their business.  Now if we can just get them to take action on that momentum and create that reality today then everyone will benefit from lower energy prices and more efficient operations.


  1. […] Big Data in Big Oil: How Shell Uses Analytics To Drive Business Success This blog’s popularity is not that surprising since it was one of my earlier blog posts, published back in May, and one that involves a major IOC such as Shell and summarizes data taken from a survey by Accenture and Microsoft highlighting a belief among a large number of respondents that leveraging Big Data, analytics, mobility and IIoT capabilities would increase value in their operations. […]