Steve Scalise �Matthew Philips, with Meenal Vamburkar
For oil and gas companies plumbing U.S. waters in the Gulf of Mexico, Scalise is a powerful ally. He’s lured Republican and Democratic colleagues onto helicopters bound for remote rigs to convince them of the importance of offshore drilling and the risk of regulating it from Washington. Since last April, he’s been fighting to overturn a new Obama administration drilling rule. ▶ Scalise’s district encompasses the full spectrum of oil and gas development. The industry is the top contributor to his 2016 reelection bid and has given $ 197,000 so far, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington campaign watchdog. “He’s a rock star on our stuff,” says Stephen Brown, vice president for federal government affairs at oil refiner Tesoro. ▶ Exxonmobil says the Obama regulation, which will impose tough requirements for coastal wells and emergency equipment meant to keep them in check, could cost as much as $ 25 billion over 10 years and limit drilling in the Gulf. The administration rebuffed Scalise’s calls to delay the rule by six months for more public comment. The congressman has vowed to keep pushing for legislation to overturn it. “Everything is on the table,” he says. �Jennifer A. Dlouhy
Welder says Wellaware’s gear has saved his company hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past year. “It would’ve been a lot worse if not for this technology,” says Welder, who cut his staff by about a third over the past two years and idled about 30 percent of his wells. The use of the technology also helped his remaining employees become more productive. “Those guys who used to be in the trucks are no longer just data gatherers,” he says. “They’re problem solvers.” In 2014, Welder joined the board of Wellaware.
In a report released in March, Mckinsey estimates that each of the world’s oil majors could reap $1 billion in cost savings and production increases from the adoption of digital technologies. In California, Chevron is using artificial intelligence to mine troves of historical data on well locations with the goal of maximizing production. In late 2015 the company also began to fly drones over its oil fields in the San Joaquin Valley to collect data and build high-definition maps.
Ahmed Hashmi, global head of upstream technology at BP, says the company has plowed “several hundred million dollars” into digital field technologies, which now cover about 85 percent of its oil and gas production around the world, compared with just 20 percent five years ago. “Digital is the rare technology that allows us to do more with less,” he says.
Even so, it’s not always an easy sell. “A lot of guys in the oil and gas industry are older, and they don’t completely understand the tech stuff,” says Ken Sigmon, sales and marketing manager of Bluetick, a North Carolina company that offers remote monitoring and automation services for oil and gas companies. Sigmon chuckles about a recent conversation he had with a Texas oil producer who still used a flip phone. When “they see that their competitors are making themselves more efficient and profitable, then they’ll buy into it,” he says. “We used to use spears, now we use guns.”
U.S. House of Representatives (R-LA.) July 2014-present Majority whip, U.S. House
May 2008-present Member, U.S. House
January-may 2008 Member, Louisiana Senate
1996-2008 Member, Louisiana House of Representatives
Education B.S., computer science, Louisiana State University The bottom line The collapse in oil prices is stoking demand for technologies to automate oilfield functions once performed by humans. Edited by Cristina Lindblad and Dimitra Kessenides Bloomberg.com