Data Gumbo Talent Spotlight: Alistair Charlton
With 2022 underway, we wanted to introduce another one of our newest team members: Alistair Charlton, Industry Principal, Upstream Oil & Gas.
Alistair has 20+ years of creative and strategic experience in extensive global and domestic well-engineering with a proven track track-record of developing systems, designs and solutions to achieve efficiency and productivity. Previously, he held positions including Consultant Engineer at Complete Shale, PXDrill Engineer at Pioneer Natural Resources, Drilling Engineering Advisor in Drilling Technology at Devon Energy and Shift Supervisor in DOC (RTOC) at Chesapeake Energy.
Alistair excels at leading innovative projects to reduce costs, streamline protocols and ensure successful operations that sustain growth and profitability. At Data Gumbo, he is applying his deep experience working at operators and service companies to create smart contract-based solutions that aid in the digital transformation of industry. Welcome to the team Alistair!
Before we dive into all things oil and gas, you mention that yacht-racing and sailing are two things you are passionate about. Tell us a bit more about these interests.
I was on the British University Sailing Team in college, competed at UK National, European, North American and World Championships and was also fortunate enough to be on a team that set a race record across the Atlantic. I now race my own boat based in Oklahoma City at various events locally and in neighboring states. I try to share this passion with my two children and others through my involvement on the board of governors of the Oklahoma City Boat Club where I also run safety and educational classes.
With broad experience in the USA and internationally on both the operator and service sides of the business, what do you think are the biggest obstacles facing industry right now?
The biggest obstacles I see are closely linked and have many implications for the industry. The challenges include ESG and attracting diverse talent (and diversity of thought). On the ESG side, I don’t think oil and gas truly has a handle on the massive changes coming and the sector remains hopeful that it might be able to skirt the issues or pay lip service on investment calls. This will continue to tarnish the field’s reputation in larger society which will impact our ability to attract investment and to attract the new talent that the industry needs to thrive through a carefully managed energy transition. I love this industry; it has given me a fascinating career and a better life than I could have imagined growing up and I want to see the industry thrive and be able to provide opportunities to others.
How do you see automation including smart contract execution and other workflow automation projects impacting the oil and gas sector within the next few years?
We see many antiquated systems and ideas that are perpetuated due to stubbornness, vested interests, cultural norms and other reasons. We must stop wasting high value time on low value tasks. PICs shouldn’t be spending their days in their office signing service tickets that relate to contracts they have never read. We are paying them for their knowledge to execute plans safely and efficiently, not to be accounting clerks. This also applies to engineers spending hours reconciling invoices that are passed back and forth between increasingly frustrated suppliers. Of all the processes to be automated within the oil industry, smart contracts may have the highest rate of return.
What technology trends do you follow and what excites you about them?
The general automation of the drilling process from rig systems to planning. I have been involved with SPE DSATs and rig of the future projects in the past and to finally see some real traction occurring is fantastic. These steps will improve the efficiency and safety of the operation and may go some way in helping us to attract the right people into an industry that they can truly see changing. The next steps are continued silo reduction of data across functions and ensuring good data governance to allow automation of the planning all the way through to the execution of the well.
Where do you see Data Gumbo in the next five years?
In five years, I think Data Gumbo’s smart contract network will become an intrinsic conduit that enables seamless and paperless transactions allowing customers to fully focus their time and resources on project execution.