Future Oil & Gas accelerates digital transformation

Source: press release, 4 December 2020

illustration: Future Oil & Gas
illustration: Future Oil & Gas

More than 1,000 delegates, speakers and exhibitors from across the world tuned in online to share insights, debate topics and access business opportunities at the fourth Future Oil & Gas, a two-day virtual conference and exhibition held on 1-2 December.

Exploring how digitalisation, disruption and innovation are shaping the upstream oil and gas industry, speakers analysed the challenges and opportunities of digital transformation with a focus on IoT, AI, machine learning, blockchain, energy transition, data analytics and cybersecurity.

Following two inspiring keynote addresses and 12 thought-provoking panel sessions across the two days, one of the common threads running through the chat room, break-out sessions and exhibitor booths echoed insights from last year’s Future Oil & Gas live event: people are critical in driving digital transformation. But, as many delegates heard this year, that digital transformation journey must be contextual and data-driven.

Welcoming a global audience including operators, oil service companies, integration solution providers, technology innovators and other key stakeholders in the upstream industry, Adam Soroka, Managing Director of Cavendish Group said, “We have never seen a year like this that has caused many to re-examine their operations worldwide. We are living in a world of aggressive oil pricing, which has a massive impact on the pace at which technological advancements are being adopted.”

“Next year is considered the real year of change. If companies wait to adopt innovative technologies any longer, they may never catch up. The technology on display throughout this event has never been so important to date. But talent matters too. It’s the ability to adapt and develop the next generation of skills that will enable companies to succeed,” continued Soroka.

Bringing energy transition and digitalisation together, Stuart Broadley, CEO of EIC and Chair of the event said: “Energy transition is inevitable and potentially the next dot-com bubble. When it happens, it’s going to be a major change, and it’s going to be fast and radical and affect us all. Analysts predict the market will be worth USD 2 trillion per year between now and 2050. We don’t know which technologies will be the winners and which companies will emerge as the new energy equivalents of dot-com wealth leaders Google, Apple and Facebook. Tesla is the first energy disruptor to reach the top rich list, but who will be next?”

“If we want to grab the energy transition opportunity, we have to fully grasp the digital disruptive opportunity as well. That is how important Future Oil and Gas is,” added Broadley.

In his keynote speech on Day 1, Johan Krebbers, General Manager for Digital Emerging Technologies and Vice President of Information Technology Innovation at Shell took delegates through the company’s digital journey, focusing on how digital technologies including robotics, machine learning, 3D printing, cloud computing and advanced analytics are helping add value through increased productivity and lower capital and operating costs. He stressed the importance of working with start-up companies, “For energy transition to be competitive and for digital to work, it’s all about data, data, data. Start-up companies are vitally important to the process; they bring new capabilities and have clear advantages in this competitive environment. Innovation and the adoption of new technologies are key aspects of any start-up.”

In her keynote speech on Day 2, Patricia Rangel, VP Intelligent Operations, Upstream Digital at bp, talked about the role that digital is playing in bp’s transformation and what bp is doing to deliver that transformation at pace.

As bp transitions from an international oil company to an integrated energy company, she said: “The opportunity to reinvent bp has given us the chance to integrate and optimise our digital investment. We plan to double our investment in digital to around USD 1.5 billion per year from 2025. Most importantly, we expect this integrated transformation approach to reduce fixed and variable operating costs by USD 1 billion by the end of 2023, and provide USD 1 billion in enhanced revenues through production and asset optimisation by the end of 2025.”

“We are experiencing the most difficult times that I have seen in my 25 years of working at bp. The oil and gas industry is going through a significant transition, and events like Future Oil & Gas help us stay connected to continue pushing innovation boundaries and driving industry sharing and collaboration,” said Rangel.

Brendan Sullivan, CTO of RigNet, reinforced the operational efficiency savings and safety gains to be had by AI. “We are starting to see operators that are running optimising process applications on today’s sensored rigs, benefitting from more than 10 to 20 times the return on investment for the software package. For operators in the North Sea, where the operating cost is around USD 650,00 per day, implementing a series of AI applications can lower non-productive time by about 3%, that’s about USD 20,000 per day and USD 7 million per year. Remote monitoring and inspection mean less personnel are required on the rig and a reduced risk of COVID exposure. For FPSO’s the gains are even higher.”

William David Hartell, Managing Director of Stellae Energy Ltd, joined Adam Soroka to close the laptop lid on 2 days of lively and stimulating debate, and discuss the two key messages arising from the conference – empowering people and contextualising data. Dave Hartell said: “Talent matters. For successful digital transformation, you have to have empowered people close to the assets, so the term Agile Teams showed up in several panels and presentations over the two days. The working culture needs to change; it can’t be so siloed. Top-down decision-making needs to demonstrate flexibility and defer some decisions to these teams. They’re the ones that are going to be capturing the insights and figuring out the optimum decisions.”

“Over the 2 days, we saw some good examples of workflows in case studies where companies have been successful in enabling people to access data. Critical operational systems need to be connected so advanced analytics can be done, so asset performance management, maintenance management and prized asset management can all take place,” he said.

“The upstream industry is a follower, but we’re not following as fast as we should be. Events like Future Oil & Gas shows people how the workflow works, which helps to demystify digital transformation, enabling more people to be open to it,” concluded Hartell.

Cavendish plans to make Future Oil & Gas the go to event in Europe for technology collaboration for operators and oil service companies alike.