Local Business

Digitisation, automation to unlock oil and gas sector potential

Filed on November 14, 2019
Visitors on the third day of the Adipec 2019 exhibition in Abu Dhabi.

(Photo by Ryan Lim)

The Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference (Adipec) 2019 ended with a strong message that the regional oil and gas sector has to be more aggressive to adapt digital solutions to unlock the maximum potential the sector has to offer in terms of gaining higher returns on investment, essentially by cutting costs and boosting economies of scale.

The four-day event, which concluded on Thursday, witnessed many agreements and partnerships inked in order to set the path for the future road map displaying a sleek representation by both oil sector and information technology sector.

Ayman Khattab, president and CEO for the Gulf and North Africa at Baker Hughes, said: "We believe that digitisation and automation are the way forward. The theme of Adipec this year is Oil & Gas 4.0, which is a true indication of the direction that the industry is heading towards. This shift will help us answer to some of the pressures that the industry is facing by increasing efficiencies, reducing costs, focusing and aligning on outcomes and optimising performance."

"Our plans continue to focus on adding value to our customers and partners in the UAE. We are keen on collaborating with all our partners to explore opportunities to move energy forward, reduce carbon footprint, drive the digitisation and transformation of the sector to work through any challenges the industry is facing. We also continue to focus on supporting the in-country value programme and to bring the latest technologies and solutions to meet the country's growing energy needs," said Khattab.

The region's top-most oil and gas event boasted of 150,000-plus trade visitors, over 2,200 companies and 23 country pavilions. While the finance, insurance, health and retail sectors have rapidly harnessed the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and big data to meet the changing needs of their customers, the industrial world, which includes the Middle East oil and gas sector, has been slower in adopting new technologies.

Recent research conducted by ARC Advisory Group of 157 process manufacturers found that there were still barriers in organisational accountability, culture and employee change management that impeded transformation.

Mohamad Awad, vice-president for the Middle East, Africa and Pakistan at Aveva, said: "Despite the transformational road not being a straight path, digital transformation is a key driver of change that opens new opportunities for oil and gas companies to grow and create value. The key to successful digitalisation is an agile, digital-savvy leadership that sets forth a strategic vision for organisations, and effectively infuses a digital mindset across the entire workforce."

"Customers visited our stand to watch demos of our UOC, a command-and-control solution for industries like oil and gas, and experience how it capitalises on digital technologies to transform business by integrating and visualising all available data in context be it operations, process, engineering, maintenance and financial data," added Awad.

The benefits of digital transformation in the industrial sector are many. Improved asset health will result in a reduction in unplanned downtime and better asset performance, while incident prediction capabilities have the power to lower operational risk and protect worker safety. Furthermore, cognitive learning can deliver digitised intelligence resulting in knowledge and experience being freely available throughout the organisation.

Fadi Kanafani, Middle East managing director and general manager of NetApp, said: "Technology and mainly digitisation is changing the oil and gas industry's upstream sector for good. With a production that exceeds the market demand, the prices are likely to remain low and the need for new efficiencies is urgent, the UAE oil and gas companies are going through this change, it is not about how big production is but how better the margins are. Digitisation which is the collection, analysis, and utilisation of huge amounts of data, can bring substantial operational improvements to the field through the use of sensors, analytics, robotics, and control systems."

"From acquisition and exploration to downstream pricing, good data means good decisions. It allows oil and gas facilities to develop new capabilities on exploration and operations which eventually help them generate higher returns on their investments. Adipec will help UAE to stay on top of the industries' future and become the model for the world to follow," he added.

Cloud to empower regional energy sector

Microsoft demonstrated a range of technological innovations to empower the energy sector in achieving more. Company showcased solutions built on the Microsoft Cloud and AI technologies to bring unprecedented efficiencies and yield exceptional value across operations.

"We see Adipec as a remarkable global platform for the energy industry players to connect and exchange knowledge." said Omar Saleh, head of energy and manufacturing at Microsoft Middle East and Africa.

"Our continued participation at this event is a reflection of Microsoft's commitment to empowering business transformation across the industry. Currently, the energy sector can make the most out of our cloud regions by availing enterprise-grade reliability and performance, combined with data residency and the broadest compliance standards."

Microsoft's booth at Adipec's digitalisation zone showcased various industry solutions and capabilities.During Adipec, Microsoft also announced that it will open an AI Centre of Excellence for Energy in the UAE - a global first for the company.

Supported by industry-leading partners, the Microsoft AI Centre of Excellence is expected to open in early 2020 and will support the company's efforts in in enabling organisations to accelerate their digital journeys, enhancing AI readiness, as well as collaborating on coalitions to address sustainability and safety challenges. - sandhya@khaleejtimes.com


Sandhya D'Mello

Journalist. Period. My interests are Economics, Finance and Information Technology. Prior to joining Khaleej Times, I have worked with some leading publications in India, including the Economic Times.

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