GNPC’s newly built data center: …A good initiative for accurate and sustainable operations BUT what should we expect?

GNPC’s defence of proposed joint operatorship deal with Aker Energy leaves more questions than answers

Recently data management systems have become an integral theme in the oil and gas sector.

Oil and gas industries are leveraging data centers to systematically manage enormous volumes of data generated from operational activities.

This is because volumes of data in the sector have experienced significant surges, thus calling for high-tech data storage and processing systems.

In Ghana, the upstream activities contribute significantly to the chunk of data generated from oil and gas processes.

To expedite accurate and sustainable operational data warehousing and mining, stakeholders in the petroleum sector in the advanced countries are resorting to building ultra-modern data centers and high-performing computing systems.

Investing in data centers helps the real-time processing of data in creating revenue opportunities, improving operational efficiencies, and increasing drilling performance.

For instance, to evaluate project specifications and precisely predict drilling locations for extracting hydrocarbons, data availability during exploration and production capacities is crucial.

The possibility of extracting cost-effective hydrocarbons is by integrating advanced remote sensing technologies with a wide array of production equipment deployed on wellheads, including drill bits, injection equipment, pumps, and valves to collect real-time data.

In this modern era, the emergence of artificial intelligence and other data modeling systems has caused the oil and gas industry to experience speedy growth in the deployment of sensors and some network devices to form and industrial internet ecosystem.

The industrial internet ecosystem triggers massive data deluge from the oil and gas operational activities to accommodate big data analytics in monitoring real-time performance for prediction of any future mishaps in operations.

Oil and gas industry customers often have unique data center requirements and are increasingly outsourcing their data center needs for effective and efficient data management systems.

Whether it is the desire to get out of the business of operating data centers or the upstream sector requirement for high-performing computing solutions, the opportunity for data center service providers abounds.

Against this backdrop, some leading companies in the oil and gas sector are resorting to cloud solution providers for scalable data storage and accessibility thus, allowing the ultimate focus on core competencies while leaving the management of the data with the technology players. Oil and gas majors, such as Chevron, ExxonMobil, and Equinor are classical examples.

Taking a clue from the aforementioned oil and gas majors, building a data center with operational and successful data management systems can be a difficult task to manage. What is more worrying is when data center service providers become dishonest in relaying accurate data information for policy analysis and implementation.

Arguably, although some leading oil and gas majors have outsourced data management systems with cloud solution providers, data privacy and security have always come to the forefront of contemporary social issues.

Therefore, if possible, due to data privacy and security, setting up a data center manned by the parent company is a good initiative for accurate data management purposes.

It is against this background that we congratulate the Ghana National Petroleum Commission (GNPC) for taking the ingenuity to build a data center for operational purposes in the petroleum sector.

As well read fellows in the energy sector, and as GNPC may have factored in building the data center, there are two big trends driving data center requirements.

The first is a robust big data that withstand internal and external data traffic because the petroleum sector in some situations generates big data through seismic surveys.

It is worth noting that the challenge with big data is that it doesn’t come only with the speed of processing it. High bandwidth capacity is needed to capture transport seismic data, coupled with enabling real-time manipulation.

The second is the industrial Internet of Things (IoT) which describes the network of physical objects that are embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies to connect and exchange data with other devices and systems over the internet. Nowadays, devices are smarter, and the attachment of sensors to extraction purposes capture enormous amounts of data from sites.

This data if well managed, can help the petroleum industry with accurate site locations for better production processes. For good internal data management, data from well sites has to be shared with all business operational units.

The data center should support high-performance computing because it helps provide racks of tremendously parallel servers with multi-core CPUs. Special-purpose accelerators and GPUs are used to achieve high-performance that standard CPUs can’t provide.

Also, deploying a modular data center in some circumstances is critical in offering scalability and easy installations in the well areas with the potential addition of rack spaces without interrupting current locations. Utilizing modular data centers helps companies in complying with environmental requirements, as most construction takes site off-premises.

In conclusion, supporting the requirements of petroleum seismic processing and data management is not an easy task. Building data center service necessitates industry experts to support software applications and massive data volumes behind operational activities such as well-path planning, and seismic interpretation. Furthermore, robust operational systems make high availability and redundancy vital thus making effective monitoring more crucial. Therefore, data backup must be reliable with a data recovery plan to restore operations if the need arises. The use of biometrics for physical premises is required for advanced authentication purposes.

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