Do The Math – An Upstream Producer’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving in a Hostile Environment

In Andy Weir’s best-selling0x0ss-85 book (and subsequent blockbuster movie) “The Martian”, astronaut Mark Watney summed up his survival strategy to a group of aspiring astronauts:

At some point, everything’s gonna go south on you… everything’s going to go south and you’re going to say, this is it. This is how I end. Now, you can either accept that, or you can get to work. That’s all it is. You just begin. You do the math. You solve one problem… and you solve the next one… and then the next.  And if you solve enough problems, you get to come home.”

At first blush, it brings to mind that time-honored quote from Friedrich Nietzsche who famously said: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

However, what really stuck in my mind from Watney’s musings (and from the whole book really) was the line:

“You do the math.”

You do the math.  Probably somewhat of an understatement considering the myriad of technological hurdles that had to be overcome to even just survive, much less get himself rescued.

If there was a tagline for the book (and movie), it would probably be Watney’s quote after he realized how difficult things were going to be for him:

In the face of overwhelming odds, I’m left with only one option:  I’m gonna have to science the shit out of this.”

I think that quote is quite appropriate when you look at how the oil and gas industry has evolved, especially over the last decade or so in the face of soaring highs and devastating lows in the exploration and production landscape.

Probably more than anything else, upstream energy producers have had to learn to not only survive, but thrive in a hostile environment that seems intent on wanting to kill them.

While the oil and gas industry has always exploited the latest advances in information technology, the relatively recent boom and bust in this industry have helped to drive companies to hone their expertise on gathering large quantities of data, communicating it quickly and efficiently, and, perhaps most importantly, analyzing it.

The advancement of sensors and wireless communications make it possible to collect a vast amount of data on everything from pressures, temperatures and vibration down a well to the condition of equipment.  That information is driving advanced strategies for producers in terms of the use of data analytics to refine production techniques to be as efficient as possible.

Recently, a great article from P2 Energy Solutions’ John Fierstien, Director of Product Management, peeled back the covers on big data and analytics for upstream oil and gas and gave readers a great overview on the new technologies and how they’re being applied in “Why All the Buzz About Analytics and Big Data in Upstream Oil and Gas?

Check it out at the link below.  It’s a great read.  Trust me, he’s done the math.


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