Skip navigation
Like what you’re reading?

How digital twins in the oil and gas industry can modernize your business

We explore one of the greatest innovations made possible by modern technology – digital twins – and how oil and gas producers can implement them to unlock momentous new capabilities.

Vice President of Industry and Partnership – Energy, Ericsson

ow digital twins in the oil and gas industry can modernize your business

Vice President of Industry and Partnership – Energy, Ericsson

Vice President of Industry and Partnership – Energy, Ericsson

Most oil and gas production facilities have been in operation for decades. To keep them running for decades more, modernization through digital transformation is an absolute necessity.

But faced with a deluge of emerging and evolving technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT) – to name a few – many in the petrochemical field can feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. In fact, according to McKinsey, more than two-thirds of the world’s oil production facilities have access to advanced connectivity but aren’t using it to its full potential.[1]

What are digital twins?

Digital twins provide a virtual copy of your actual plant. They are the digital representation of the physical assets that keep your production facilities operating. They capture every piece of relevant information about an asset, such as operating instructions, schematics, troubleshooting procedures, maintenance records and more, and store them in the cloud for easy access and updating.

Once a digital twin of an asset is created, an employee, contractor or consultant can simply point an enabled mobile device at the asset and instantly learn everything they need to know about it – including:

  • Engineering content (diagrams, specifications and configurations), which describes the physical asset in digital terms
  • Maintenance history (timing, procedures performed, parts installed and installers), which provides insight into the ability of the asset to perform to its potential as well as alert personnel to any required action
  • Physical constraints (operating capacities, throughputs and pressures) that restrict how each asset physically behaves
  • Operating parameters (input energies, consumables, by-products and emissions) that constrain the asset’s performance

How can digital twins help the oil and gas industries?

Aside from the obvious benefit of creating a single, secure repository for all asset documentation – one that doesn’t rely on the memory or expertise of an aging workforce – digital twins can positively impact the operational efficiency, reliability and agility of oil and gas manufacturers.

The average age of oil and gas workers is 56, and more than half of them will be eligible for retirement in the next 5 to 10 years.[2]Without innovation like digital twins, the industry will face a critical skills shortage.

74% of organizations are expected to adopt digital twins by 2025.[3]

  • Detect early signs of equipment failure or degradation, enabling proactive corrective maintenance actions and avoiding costly plant downtime or asset replacement
  • Model drilling and extractions to determine whether virtual equipment designs are feasible prior to implementation
  • Gather real-time data feeds from sensors to evaluate an asset’s state and condition, no matter where it’s located
  • Reduce the need for full-time personnel with specialized knowledge
  • Minimize the costs associated with travel to and from field operations
  • Eliminate the risk of missing, incorrect or inaccessible asset data

Digital twins and smart data systems could help oil and gas operators save up to 15% on total decommissioning project cost.[4]

What’s the key to successful adoption of digital twins?

The ability to deploy digital twins, as well as other solutions powered by AI, ML and IoT, requires a robust and reliable cellular network that can handle massive amounts of data transfer with low latency. 4G and 5G technology are crucial for the foundation of this network due to its ability to:

  • Provide near-instant delivery of data to and from sensors and devices – at extremely high volume
  • Stream high- and ultra-definition video in real-time
  • Run nearly any process remotely, regardless of complexity
  • Offer an inherently higher security level without sacrificing overall performance

With a 5G private network, oil and gas industries can access secure, reliable and low-latency local connectivity to deploy Industry 4.0 use cases on a single network, retain control of network resource allocation, and ensure that critical data remains on-site. This is an additional benefit of deploying digital twins with cellular technology.

Ready to begin the next chapter of your oil and gas business?

Ericsson’s leading cellular technology can help you improve agility, advance operations and unlock intelligence in your facilities with your organization’s adoption of digital twins.


Related assets

The future of digital twins in mobile networks - Ericsson

Dedicated Networks - Ericsson


[1] “How tapping connectivity in oil and gas can fuel higher performance.” McKinsey & Company. November 2020.

[2] “Oil and gas industry suffers brain drain.” Energy Digital. May 2020.

[3] Digital Twins in 2021: 15 Amazing Examples.” UnfoldLabs. February 2021.



The Ericsson Blog

Like what you’re reading? Please sign up for email updates on your favorite topics.

Subscribe now

At the Ericsson Blog, we provide insight to make complex ideas on technology, innovation and business simple.