Day two of Baker Hughes’ annual meeting in Florence, Italy, explored a number of technologies that are already transforming how the oil and gas industry is moving into the future. First off was Tom Siebel, Chairman and CEO of C3.ai, which has been working with Baker Hughes to develop artificial intelligence solutions applicable to the industry’s needs.
Siebel began his talk on digital transformation by highlighting the breadth of industries that C3.ai serves. From banking and aerospace to utilities and healthcare, C3.ai’s software uses a model-driven architecture to accelerate delivery and reduce the complexities of developing, deploying, and operating enterprise-scale AI applications. When it comes to oil and gas, Siebel asserted, “Upstream, downstream, midstream: there’s no aspect of the business that we will not transform in this process.”
Through its collaboration with Baker Hughes, C3.ai helps companies rapidly integrate data from enterprise systems, operational sources, sensor networks and external providers to power machine learning models that generate predictive insights at enterprise scale. Siebel went on to highlight how these insights address critical issues such as improving operational reliability, optimising production, improving safety, and annually generating millions of dollars in value.
Baker Hughes-C3.ai developed applications include BHC3 Predictive Maintenance™, which enables operators to monitor health and predict failure of systems, subsystems, assets and components using advanced algorithms, prioritise maintenance expenditures, and directly operationalise maintenance through seamless integration with existing work order management and business systems. “We can identify systems before they break, replace them before they break and increase the rate of availability from say 50% to 85%,” said Siebel.
Additionally, BHC3 Inventory Optimization enables companies to identify up to 40% reduction in inventory and save hundreds of millions of dollars in working capital and holding costs – and BHC3 Production Optimization empowers operators to maximise oil, gas, and other production.
No pain, no gain
A panel of experts, entitled “Disruptive Technologies and New Approaches” and moderated by Peter Bryant, Managing Partner at Clareo, discussed three major forces most relevant to the oil and gas industry when looking at disruptive technologies: the new reality for the price of oil; the societal pressure around decarbonisation and sustainability; and the continual innovation in multiple technology areas, including AI, 3D printing, advanced materials and huge computer power.
The tone of the debate focussed heavily on cross-industry collaboration, and the panel agreed that, fuelled by a change in approach and perception, oil and gas companies must begin to collaborate to advance the industry and accelerate its uptake of disruptive technologies.
In a similar vein, it was argued that oil and gas companies should consider growing their core competencies in disruptive technologies rather than outsourcing. Ali Faramawy, Corporate VP, Microsoft, synthesised the collaboration-competence building, saying, “There are so many things that people can learn together; there is no established leader that everyone can look to and say, ‘I want to be this’.”
Another key point discussed by the panel centred on the importance of how a company makes use of technology. The panel debated that the industry must consider how best to optimise the use of new technologies to decarbonise the industry.
For example, the panel discussed the balance between risk strategies – something which can often halt the uptake of innovation and opportunity – and the development and deployment of disruptive technologies to boost growth and reduce emissions. “Forward is about progressing, modernising and I think in this industry, the first thing we have to do is take charge of the narrative about who we are, what we’re doing and all the things that we’re doing to provide affordable energy, accessible energy and cleaner energy,” said Lynn Elsenhans, Board Member, Baker Hughes and Saudi Aramco.
“If it’s going to be disruptive, it needs to cause a problem, it needs to cause structural change… that is what the oil industry and the hydrocarbon industry has to do; we have to stop looking at individual pieces of equipment, with individual disciplines, with individual data sources, and look at the asset holistically,” stated KBC CEO Andy Howell, tying up all the threads.
The “The Future of Work” panel discussion brought the human element back into the technology equation. The discussion included how to attract the next generation of talent, and how digital and technology advancements are enabling work in the oil and gas industry to be more adaptable. Haithem A. Al- Balawi, Director, HR Systems Support Department, Saudi Aramco, said, “We need to shift our training delivery models from delivering training to learning how to learn, to promote lifelong learning.”
When discussing new and diverse talent in the industry, the panel concluded that the industry needs to attract younger audiences by taking steps to improve the wellbeing of the workforce, creating programs that promote the recruitment and career progression of female workers, and enabling more agile working. An example is how Baker Hughes and Equinor are working together to deploy automation which means more employees can work onshore, improving their quality of life.
In addition to examining the growing need for expertise in AI, as well as engineering, data engineering and many other digital and technology skills, the panel addressed younger generation’s attitude towards climate change, agreeing that the industry needs to better demonstrate its efforts in this area to become more attractive.
The panel agreed that the future workforce needs to be adaptable and flexible in order to help weather the storm of an increasingly changing industry. “We have to be able to change and continually invent ourselves by trying new things and that will help us weather the storm,” concluded Christine Benfield, Vice President Global Projects, BP Upstream.