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Editor's note: The full version of this article originally appeared in the February issue of E&P Plus.
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The year 2020 will be remembered for many reasons: a global pandemic, an economic crisis, a historic price war, negative oil prices—the list is endless. But despite the cloud of setbacks that overshadowed the oil and gas industry last year, digital transformation was a silver lining that accelerated at a pace never seen before.

Call it adaptive mode, survival strategy or just plain necessity; oil and gas companies, which were already making steady progress automating operations, accelerated acceptance of remote technologies during the pandemic when workforces were grounded and a low-price environment pushed businesses to do more with less.

“2020 will be remembered in part as the year digital transformation went fully mainstream in the energy sector,” Brad Barth, chief product officer with InEight, told E&P Plus. “As businesses adapted to the pandemic, the corresponding shift to remote work served as a jolt to the status quo. The result was a nearly industrywide embrace of cloud technology, digitalization and remote work more deeply than ever before, keeping projects moving despite unprecedented challenges.”

In what could be the industry’s next leap toward digitalization, major service companies continue reimagining operations to adjust to a leaner fracking market. Remote drilling, for instance, has seen an uptick over the pandemic period when workforces were grounded and complex drilling challenges were solved remotely by domain experts.

“It’s pretty amazing that the majority of our drilling work is taking place remotely,” Paul Madero, vice president of drilling services with Baker Hughes, told E&P Plus. “See, the beautiful thing about remote operations that most people don’t understand is that once you open that digital world, your ability to deploy these tools accelerates because now you’re very comfortable with it. It’s really kind of like when we all started using the internet. At first, we didn’t really know what it was, and when you start to realize its capabilities and the productivity that it can unlock, it’s tremendous.”

Click here to read the full cover story

in the February issue of E&P Plus.