Robotics is the industry related to the engineering, construction, and operation of robots, a broad and diverse field related to many commercial industries and consumer uses.
Robots help to cut down exposure of oil and gas employees to dangerous working environments.
The adoption and use of robotics also enable oil and gas companies to improve productivity and reduce operating costs, something that is proving more critical in the current global climate of fiscal challenges.
Robots have become progressively cheaper, smarter, more flexible and easier to train.
This makes it easier for robots to infiltrate new industries and spawn new use cases at scale, including oil and gas. With compounding advances in technology, robots are being redefined as physically embodied artificial intelligence (AI) agents.
Our GlobalData robotics dashboards are designed to inform and keep readers up to date with recent data and information on robotics in oil and gas, including job trends, industry insights, and company deals that impact the sector.
Value chain for robotics in oil and gas
Depending on the application, level of sophistication, and reliability requirements, robotics generally involves several levels of control and processing, including onboard hardware and software, and increasingly, cloud processing and the pooling of knowledge from multiple robots.
Robots also need to be able to sense their surroundings. Depending on the application, they may also need sensors sensitive to touch, heat, light, vibration, sound, and even certain chemicals.
Many of these sensors will only be available from specialist manufacturers, with their own research and development (R&D) priorities and strategic goals.
Mechanical components are another important element of a robot.
In all cases and use cases, they need to be precise, reliable, robust, and consume as little power as possible.
In many cases, motors and other mechanical components also need to act as sensors, providing feedback to the robot’s processing system to allow it to move more accurately.
Companies such as Maxon, Keyence, Nabtesco, Omron, Harmonic Drive, Nachi-Fujikoshi, and Nippon Ceramic are all important suppliers to the wider robotics industry.
Technological improvements in robotics in oil and gas
Oil and gas players, having recognised the potential of robotics across the value chain, are working on improving their robotics capabilities.
Often, companies actively collaborate with technology vendors to develop robots for specific applications.
For example, TotalEnergies formed the ARGOS initiative in collaboration with other industry players and technology vendors to develop inspection robots for the oil and gas industry.
This initiative is being carried out as a long-term process to improve and commercialise the technology through regular field trials.
Oil and gas companies also invest in robotics startups to facilitate technology development.
For instance, BP invested in an autonomous vehicle software company, Oxbotica. It then trialled self-driving robots at its Lingen refinery in Germany.
Landscape for robotics in oil and gas
Companies are increasingly moving towards autonomous robots that are supported by artificial intelligence (AI) technology.
AI-backed robotics technology, along with other sensors on the robot, provides diverse functionality in the oil and gas industry.
AI is expected to develop further with computer vision and context-aware computing capabilities, which will enhance the efficiency of robotics in the industry.
The improvements in aerial drone technology with beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) capabilities provide an expansive operative range to drones for surveying and inspection tasks.
In AUVs, the utilisation of gyroscopes and accelerometers improves the stabilisation of the drones to undertake excursions below the sea level.
The use of GPS technology and other location technologies have improved the performance of robots, paving the way for increased mobility and autonomy.
Market forecast for robotics in oil and gas
According to GlobalData forecasts, the robotics industry was worth $45.3bn in 2020.
By 2030, it will have grown at a CAGR of 29% to $568bn.
Annual growth rates will likely peak at 37% in late 2024.
Sales of industrial robots hit $14.6bn in 2020, equivalent to 32% of the total robotics market. By 2030, this segment will be worth $352bn, having grown at a CAGR of 38% between 2020 and 2030.
At $30.7bn in 2020, the service robot market was larger than the industrial robots sector. However, the industrial robots market will grow faster over the next decade.
Our GlobalData analysts have forecast that robotics usage in oil and gas companies is projected to grow at a CAGR of 29% between 2020 and 2030.
Robotics adoption across the oil and gas industry
Robots have applications across the oil and gas industry in various tasks ranging from surveys, material handling, and construction, to inspection, repair, and maintenance.
Robots can be customised for various tasks to ease the work and improve efficiency.
During the planning phases of an oil and gas project, robots can be deployed to conduct aerial surveys, or they can be employed to conduct seismic surveys during exploration.
Aerial or underwater drones can be adopted depending upon the project location and work requirements.
Deals activity involving robotics in oil and gas
GlobalData’s robotics deal tracker in the oil and gas sector monitors deals involving robotics or similar technologies over the past nine quarters.
Innovation driven by robotics in oil and gas
To best track the emergence and use of robotics in oil and gas, GlobalData tracks patent filings and grants, as well as listing and following the companies that hold most patents in the field of robotics.
Patents in offshore robotics in the oil and gas sector
Our GlobalData robotics patent tracker in the oil and gas sector monitors patent filings and grants over the past two decades.
Job insights for robotics in oil and gas
Our GlobalData team monitors live oil and gas company job postings, specifically those that mention robotics or those that specify requiring similar technology skills.
The proportion of offshore oil and gas industry operations and technologies companies hiring for robotics-related positions rose significantly in May 2022 when compared with the equivalent month last year.
Within this, 27.5% of the companies included in our analysis are recruiting for at least one such position.
This latest figure was higher than the 15.9% of companies that were hiring for robotics-related jobs a year ago and an increase compared to the figure of 19.8% in April 2022.
Job trends in the oil and gas sector involving robotics
In addition to job insights, GlobalData tracks trends and job postings for robotics in oil and gas.
We focus on jobs where companies mention robotics, and our robotics job tracker in the oil and gas sector looks at all jobs posted, closed, and active within the sector.