As operators search for hydrocarbons in increasingly remote and hazardous locations, so communications between the rig and head office become more challenging. The electronic media we use currently – email, telephone, electronic data transfer – all filter information, inhibiting collaborative cognition. This in turn can lead to misunderstanding of pivotal information, increasing risk to equipment, people, and indeed business value.

In this paper we will describe how the use of fully collaborative technology, backed by wide ranging psychological research into how people communicate and collaborate both in a face-to-face setting and in a variety of remote situations, can be used to optimise collaboration in the most challenging situations, reducing risk, and significantly increasing rapid, accurate decision-making in the field.

The Digital Oilfield is a reality, and the most significant change taking place is in the way in which people work in a collaborative environment. While there has been significant research into how different disciplines can work together, very little, if any, has gone into the way in which we collaborate remotely, and how that can be improved.

Our research, extending the findings by the Universities of Cambridge, Kings College London, and Surrey, demonstrates conclusively that the provision of a remote collaborative environment that most closely resembles a face-to-face meeting – natural, intuitive, and able to handle complex tasks – improves knowledge sharing and interpretation, expands thought and memory processes, and in so doing, adds significant, measurable value to remote operations.

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