Fueling innovation with open source technologies in the oil and gas industry

When Australian oil and gas producer Santos needed to get data more quickly into the hands and minds of its users, it turned to open source. By replacing a proprietary IT infrastructure that was distributed among data servers, application servers, and application workstations across several sites with an open source solution, Santos was able to cut IT costs and create new opportunities for faster data processing and simulation capabilities. In short, the open source move set up Santos for cost-effective, high-performing IT that can stimulate innovation. You can read about it in this case study.

Santos implemented Red Hat Enterprise Linux as the underlying platform, as well as open source software packages VirtualGL and TurboVNC, which are designed to enable high-performance 3D graphics software to work with thin clients. Santos wrote an in-house web portal to provide geoscientists with a connection and collaboration interface so they could stay logged in to their Red Hat Enterprise Linux desktops and reconnect to the same session from just about anywhere.

The company – which was a Red Hat Innovation Award Winner a few years ago – saved more than $2.5 million initially, derived from cutting the licensing and maintenance costs associated with its proprietary thin client software, lower capital costs, and reduced administration. Santos’ geoscientists have faster access to data and are able to perform their jobs more efficiently and the company was able to commission a new high-performance computing (HPC) cluster. In addition, Santos’ IT infrastructure is more reliable, stable and secure. It’s also fueling innovation, through better collaboration and access to more 3D rendering power via a high-performance thin client solution in a standard 64-bit environment.

In the case study, Andy Moore, IS manager for subsurface at Santos, said that Red Hat and open source has enabled the company to achieve innovative use of technology and out-of-the-box thinking.

“We’ve been able to bring together talent from various corners of the world. Suddenly we are seeing spectacular results and new potential we could not imagine previously. That’s the power of collaboration, and its value goes far beyond our IT infrastructure, our company, and our industry,” Moore told Red Hat.

By the way, Roland Berger Strategy Consultants, a global strategy consulting firm headquartered in Munich noted how critical it is for the oil and gas industry to innovate in a report it issued in 2015. In the report on innovation in oil and gas, the firm said the oil and gas industry has one of the lowest levels of research and development (R&D) intensity of any sector, with less than half a percent of revenues spent on R&D. “With the shift in focus towards unlocking the vast reserves in unconventional formations — which we define broadly to include tight oil and gas, oil sands and heavy oils — the need for innovation has increased dramatically. Driven by a combination of economics and environmental pressures, new technology solutions are essential to fully realize the opportunity,” the firm wrote in the report.

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