Executives cite industry size, structure, risk aversion, and lack of infrastructure key reasons for slow adoption of 3D printing
In an era of low oil prices, 3D printing offers gains in a wide range of use cases, as leaders like Halliburton, Schlumberger, and Shell begin to use the technology according to a report by Lux Research.
“3D printing holds promise for the oil and gas industry, but the industry needs to change its culture and learn to integrate 3D printing into its complex supply chain in order to fully benefit,” said Harshit Sharma, Lux Research Associate and lead author of the report.
Under pressure to keep up profits in the face of low oil prices, the old-school oil and gas industry is turning to the new-school technology of 3D printing, according to Lux Research.
“It can take lessons from successful adopters, notably from GE’s acquisitions and successful implementation of 3D printing for mass production,” said Sharma.
Lux Research analysts created value and suitability metrics for 12 specific use cases for 3D printing in the oil and gas industry. Among their findings:
- Some use cases are lucrative. Profitable use cases include chemical injection stick tools and nozzles for downhole cleanout tools. Two speculative use cases that also sit in the “forthcoming” quadrant are sand control screens and pipeline pigs.
- Collaboration is key to technology hurdles. Partnerships are key to overcoming technological barriers in the short term. Oil and gas companies should engage with metal printing companies such as EnergyX and Arevo for developing new printing techniques for use cases like liner hanger spikes. For drill bits, candidate partners include Nanosteel and QuesTek Innovations.
- Culture, conservatism are barriers. Oil and gas executives cite industry size and structure, risk aversion, and lack of infrastructure as key reasons for slow adoption of 3D. However, the success of 3D in the automotive and aerospace industries shows these factors are not insurmountable barriers, and the oil and gas industry’s growing focus on operational efficiency is driving change.