Oil and gas companies are re-imagining their businesses with digital twin


Digital twin technology is transforming the oil and gas industry, enabling engineers to create virtual representations of physical assets like rigs, plants and pipelines in order to track assets, improve maintenance and avoid down time.

Take this scenario. A maintenance worker observes a small rust spot on a pipe and swings by periodically to check on it, with the understanding that when the rust spot reaches six inches wide, the pipe needs to be replaced.

Eventually the rust spot gets big enough and a new piece of pipe is ordered based on the original engineering diagrams.  But when the repair crew arrives to complete the maintenance they discover the original specs indicated a 12-inch pipe, a pipe that was replaced years ago with a 13-inch pipe. Not only that, there’s a control valve in place that wasn’t on the diagrams, a valve that also needs to be replaced.

Meanwhile, the plant has been shut down for this maintenance event, costing the company money. It might take a month to get a new control valve and the maintenance crew will have to come back a second time, creating even more expense and down time.

But with digital twin technology, a LiDAR (laser-based) camera replicates the plant in a 3D virtual sense to keep track of assets and the condition of equipment so engineers can understand what’s happening based on real-world conditions rather than process information diagrams that may no longer be accurate.

Of course, accurate asset tracking and preventive maintenance through digital twin technology represents just one example of the many benefits of digital transformation in the oil and gas industry. Companies are also digitally enabling their business in order to:

  • Optimize for efficient and reliable energy outcomes at enterprise scale across the entire value chain, including partner and logistical networks.
  • Upskill the workforce and provide improved engineering ecosystems via a digital workplace in order to attract new talent,since more than 50% of the current workforce is expected to retire within the next 10-15 years.
  • Upscale and compete as an ecosystem through mergers, acquisitions, divestitures and partnership agreements to drive up efficiency and improve the reach of product and services portfolios.
  • Invest in digital platforms to sustain lasting competitive advantage through improved data management solutions, digital twins, improved compute capabilities and remote visualization solutions.

KPIs tell the story

In terms of specific key performance indicators (KPIs), the deployment of digital twin technology is delivering improvements and cost savings in the following areas:

  1.    Unplanned asset downtime reduced
  2.    Production increased by up to 5%
  3.    A 2% increase in refining and sales margins
  4.    A 5% increase in return on assets
  5.    Worker acquisition time slashed by as much as 40%
  6.    Budgeting and forecasting costs reduced

As these numbers show, the deployment of digital twin technology can have a profound impact on oil and gas companies across a broad range of business metrics.

Nicholas-Holian-headshotNicholas Holian is a DXC Technology Distinguished/Chief Technologist and the lead PLM consultant responsible for PLM and engineering environment integration, focused on developing solutions that enable clients to build a flexible and scalable engineering ecosystem. His more than 17-year career includes management and technical roles encompassing engineering, software and automation development, operating system testing, and quality practices, among others. Nicholas holds several U.S. and foreign patents and has extensive international experience working with and developing teams in EMEA and APJ, Nicholas graduated with honors from Texas A&M University.

John Wei headshotJohn Wei is a Digital Transformation Leader and Distinguished Technologist at DXC, with a proven track record of delivering  digital transformation at scale, driving double-digit growth, accelerating speed of execution,  reducing operating cost, and producing customer Net-Promoter Score (NPS) significantly higher  than the industry baseline. Prior to DXC, John was the COO of Heiler Software Corporation (an Informatica company), a leading provider of enterprise Product Information Management (PIM) and Master Data Management (MDM) solutions. John holds a Master of Science degree in Computer Information Systems from University of Detroit Mercy. John has been admitted into Harvard Business School Executive Education Program, with a planned completion date before the end of 2018.


Business Case for Digital Product Life Cycle Management


  1. Abbas Mehrabian says:

    Well done! Can you share the slide deck?

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