The industrial Internet has arrived for the energy sector with great potential to deliver significant impacts through productivity and asset health. With the advances in technology and infrastructure, the industrial Internet is no longer something that resembles a science fiction plot. The reality is industrial assets are now connected to powerful networks, communications systems and security platforms – uniting machines and people through big data analytics. 

Today, the “digital oilfield” and the “smart electric grid” are proving the power of the “Internet of things” by delivering real savings and productivity. In fact, it is estimated that the industrial Internet could add $10 trillion to $15 trillion to the global GDP in the next 20 years.

Bradleys Inc. is a leader in the electric motor repair, rewinding and testing industry, and employs more than 100 professionals in south Texas. Located in Gregory, Texas, the company’s 110,000-square-foot facility is 60 miles from the Eagle Ford Shale. The company has served the petroleum, petrochemical, manufacturing and mining industries for 85 years. As the company has grown, so has its productivity-related and health insurance expense. 

Four years ago, like many large and small companies, Bradleys’ health insurance premiums were rising annually at rates of 20 to 30 percent, and it didn’t take a genius to realize neither the company nor the employees would be able to afford the insurance premiums within a few years. After analyzing the data, Bradleys discovered that 80 percent of all insurance claims were made by employees who hadn’t seen a doctor in at least a year, although their health plan covered annual visits and preventative tests at 100 percent. 

Reliability, mean time between failures (MTBF), downtime, costs, safety, efficiency and standardization have pushed documented motor repair specifications and internal motor repair facilities’ repair processes to the forefront in today’s industrial environment. Many motor repair facilities are ISO-certified and have taken the proactive approach to identify the areas of improvement in their processes. Evolving through “trial by fire” is still too often the primary training process for both the customer and motor repair facility, learning through painful warranty issues and the findings of the Root Cause Failure Analysis. 

Chile, Brazil and Mexico are countries rich in renewable resources, and are leaders in the Latin American region due to their governments’ position on renewable energy generation with adoption of innovative and aggressive policies. Investors lured by these enthusiastic policies in Latin American countries should nonetheless be aware of their long-term sustainability.

Chile, Mexico and Brazil are turning to renewable energy to build a more sustainable future. But the policies that support renewable energy must themselves be sustainable. 

Europe’s shale gas reserves won’t create an American-style boom, and aren’t enough to make any kind of global dent over the long-term, yet many are calling for the development of Europe’s shale gas plays to prevent the trickle of plant closures from becoming a steady stream that spawns a rising tide of unemployment.

Low natural gas prices as a result of the United States’ boom surplus are already creating a trade disadvantage for companies in Europe, struggling to compete against the cheap imports of U.S. firms that are increasing production. European firms are taking a double hit: paying higher natural gas prices than U.S. competitors while at the mercy of a volatile supply largely controlled by fickle Russia.

Inspired by the American energy renaissance, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is increasingly exploring the potential to turn its own unconventional reserves into the biggest boom in the energy market in decades.

And why not? Conventional gas and oil production are still cheap in the Middle East, but decreasing reserves and increasing domestic demand is driving accelerated interest in unconventional resources. It makes perfect sense for some of the richest oil-producing regions in the world to seek ways to further exploit these precious natural resources. 

‘Smart Grid,” a term we should all be familiar with by now, is the integration of technology – both new and old – within the industry and society. This integration actually simulates the laws of attraction. Generally speaking, in order for there to be attraction there needs to be desire, and we can all agree that there is a desire for things to be easier, more streamlined, and therefore, there is attraction. Attraction between the energy world and technology: a smart grid. However, like any attraction, there are obstacles to overcome. This marriage of technology and energy has unique roadblocks to overcome and unlike most other industry modernization, it must endure the differences in state of minds to coexist.

Mining companies often operate in less than hospitable parts of the world and face a number of political and other risks, ranging from cancellation of concessions, leases or licenses, and expropriation of shares, to windfall and other taxes, political interference, environmental regulation and remediation responsibility, land rights issues, riots, protests and theft from employees or the local community, illegal mining in the concession area, prohibition on the repatriation of profits, and exchange rate risks, to name but a few. The matrix of more than 3,000 bilateral investment treaties (BIT), multilateral investment treaties and free trade agreements may provide foreign mining investors with a level of protection under international law beyond the remedies that are available under contract or national law or the protection offered by political insurance.

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