See our app roundup for use off­shore

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There are many ways in which mo­bile apps can serve the oil and gas in­dus­try: by sup­ply­ing data, such as pump rate, weight on bit, RPM, and mud vis­cos­ity as well as pro­duc­tion data; through ge­olo­ca­tion ser­vices like as­set track­ing and worker se­cu­rity; through ef­fi­ciency- based ser­vices like well or­ga­ni­za­tion; by as­sist­ing field op­er­a­tions and de­vice man­age­ment and mon­i­tor­ing; by sup­ply­ing man­u­als, guides or in­dus­try pub­li­ca­tions; or just through re­mov­ing the need for note- tak­ing with pen­cils and pa­per. That list isn’t ours alone, by the way. It is based on com­ments from Hous­ton- based en­ter­prise mo­bil­ity agency ChaiOne whose re­cent eBook, Mo­bi­liz­ing the Oil & Gas In­dus­try, es­ti­mates that by the year 2015, some $ 8 bil­lion will be spent on oil and gas mo­bile apps. Gau­rav Khan­del­wal, ChaiOne founder and CEO, said: “The mar­ket is ex­pand­ing ex­po­nen­tially. Not only do you have more use cases for mo­bile apps com­ing up daily ~ be­cause the mar­ket is ed­u­cat­ing it­self ~ but you also have a higher pen­e­tra­tion of smart­phones which are re­plac­ing fea­ture phones in the oil­field.” This is not just be­cause younger users ex­pect to be able to use iPads as they wan­der around a field, rig or re­fin­ery, but be­cause older users are also adopt­ing smart­phones and tablets. “The use cases for mo­bil­ity are go­ing up,” says Khan­del­wal ~ and if your oil rig has the con­nec­tiv­ity needed to ac­com­mo­date mo­bile phones or tablets, it is likely to be en­abling some of those use cases.

But what will apps do?

We’ve al­ready of­fered a few ex­am­ples but, as Khan­del­wal ex­plained: “You will see in the mar­ket in the next six to 18 months a broader shift in mo­bil­ity from dumb apps that run on the de­vice it­self ~ like cal­cu­la­tors ~ to smarter apps that lever­age your con­text to de­liver a bet­ter ex­pe­ri­ence to the user. What’s start­ing to hap­pen is that the ma­chines can com­mu­ni­cate a read­ing to your phone di­rectly just by you be­ing in prox­im­ity to them.” In other words phones and ma­chines are talk­ing to, and see­ing, each other. How­ever, one area of oil and gas app adop­tion is still in its in­fancy: apps that di­rectly ad­dress re­mote­ness. It’s not easy to track down eas­ily avail­able smart­phone or tablet apps that, for ex­am­ple, mon­i­tor use and avail­abil­ity of limited satel­lite net­work band­width or in­tel­li­gently man­age and fil­ter big data or, for that mat­ter, ap­ply M2M from thou­sands of miles away over an iPhone. But many more of th­ese are no doubt on their way. As Khan­del­wal points out: “The speed of adop­tion of tech­nol­ogy th­ese days is faster than ever be­fore be­cause mo­bile de­vices have en­tered the en­ter­prise world from the con­sumer world.” In other words en­ter­prise cus­tomers al­ready know about apps and be­hav­iours like push no­ti­fi­ca­tion; they are not try­ing to learn some­thing new. More pro­pri­etary ap­pli­ca­tions ~ or be­spoke ver­sions ~ in use are hid­den away inside en­ter­prise com­pa­nies. While we see sev­eral op­tions on the mar­ket to­day we may not im­me­di­ately hear about many new in­dus­try apps as they could be part of in- house en­ter­prise de­vel­op­ment. In this ar­ti­cle, by con­trast, we fo­cus en­tirely on free or openly avail­able apps that can or could be used in re­mote ex­plo­ration. The re­sult has been a mix­ture of apps tai­lored to this mar­ket and stand­alone ones that have rel­e­vance to dis­tance and re­mote­ness ( rather than any par­tic­u­lar in­dus­try). In almost ev­ery case the app it­self is free or rel­a­tively cheap. How­ever, some re­quire the support of paid- for hard­ware, soft­ware or sub­scrip­tions ~ so check be­fore you down­load.

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