Rob Van Dale, principal, A.T. Kearney on how despite the challenging economy, telcos of the region can still capitalise on the oil and gas sector by developing specialised solutions.
CommsMEA:How has the spending in telco services been affected by the fluctuations in oil prices?
Overall, the persistently lower oil prices and uncertainty have challenged regional economies. Enterprises, government entities, and SMEs have started to increasingly look for ways to manage their cost base - telecom expenditures are no exception. In addition, consumers have become more aware of their spend and the amount spent on telecoms.
CommsMEA:Which are the new kinds of solutions and services launched by telcos for the oil and gas sector?
Telecom operators have traditionally focused on connectivity, ranging from offering fibre, LTE, microwave, and VSAT solutions – depending on the location of O&G sites. In some parts of the world, like in the North Sea, specialised telecom operators offer dedicated networks with their own frequency licences to cover broad areas of the sea in order to connect off-shore sites with LTE and radio links. Increasingly, we see operators offering adjacent IT services such as data centres, cloud, and M2M. However, the majority of these services are not specifically tailored to the O&G industry. This offers a growth opportunity, but it requires a high level of specialisation. GCC telecoms operators are uniquely positioned to leverage the opportunity to develop the capabilities and global expertise required.
CommsMEA:Which are the kinds of ICT solutions in demand with the oil and gas industry? Is there a potential of these being provided in bundled suites by telcos?
ICT solutions are increasingly being developed to suit the O&G industry. Currently they are offered by engineering firms and OEMs. This includes Electrical, Instrumentation, Control and Telecommunication (EICT) and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) solutions with a strong focus on monitoring and controlling production, safety and security. Telcos are typically engaged by these players to provide the connectivity required but they are not the primary contractors. Many operators have selected other sectors to develop industry-specific solutions.
CommsMEA:Could you tell about the concept of ‘digital oilfield’? How can oil and gas companies and telcos collaborate to make it a success?
In summary, the digital oilfield describes an oilfield that is well connected with various sensors, M2M/ IoT gathering data. By leveraging big data and analytics, better and faster decisions can be reached through real time enhanced collaboration between people with different skills sets across locations. The end result is an improvement in field performance. Telcos are very well positioned to play an important role in this by offering connectivity, M2M, and data storage, redundancy, etc, potentially by partnering with specialised engineering firms.