SAN ANTONIO—Digital innovation matched with operational technology have been the driving force behind Marathon Oil Corp.’s (NYSE: MRO) revamp in some U.S. unconventional plays, according to the company’s digital technology director.

At Hart Energy’s DUG Eagle Ford Conference & Exhibition, Edwin Suarez told attendees that Marathon’s use of field automation has already “maximized oilfield recovery and increased profitability” in its Eagle Ford assets. Suarez urged the industry to also embrace digital technologies in order to reap the benefits.

Marathon has adopted video surveillance, real-time notifications and decision-making capabilities to its field operations. Suarez noted that once those new process improvements were added to the company’s control center, it was able to introduce a safer and more efficient way of operating.

“Thanks to the digital oil field enhancements in our Eagle Ford assets we’re adding two to three barrels of production to every well per day, which could ultimately result in several thousands of additional barrels annually at virtually zero cost,” Suarez said.

If the Eagle Ford matures, he added, being equipped to withstand the decline of base production would be more important than ever.

Since moving to a digital oil field, Marathon’s efforts have been centered on safely finding and producing more oil and gas at a lower cost. So, the company said it has taken advantage of the language shared between innovation and operational technology.

“We have made a very conscious effort to link our technology management decisions to the outcomes that yield the highest impact to our operations.”

Suarez detailed how certain internet companies have employed digital technologies and mature learning abilities to predict behaviors and trends in real-time. He said that how they have leveraged data has unveiled real enterprise value for those industries.

Likewise, he wants to see the oil and gas industry also treat data as an asset. According to Suarez, Marathon has seen “immediate value in the ability to analyze large amounts of data, to make [data] visual, to sort through what’s most important and to automate certain processes and decisions.”

“Good reliable data is a key ingredient in successfully creating mature learning algorithms,” he said. “It’s not that our industry doesn’t have enough data, it’s about how we use that data and the type of questions that were going to answer with it.”

Though Suarez believes the industry is in the “nit” of a digital transformation, he said technology alone is not sufficient—people and computers should exist and work concurrently.

“We imagine a future where computers and people together make the best economical and safest decision and yes people are still in the mix because we cannot fully substitute all of [their] experience," Suarez said. “People run businesses.”

Mary Holcomb can be reached at